Japan | A Continuous Lean.

The Best Japanese Brands With The Worst Names.

Nov 18th, 2014 | Categories: Jake Gallagher, Japan, Menswear | by Jake Gallagher

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As has been discussed time and time again (and again, and again, and again, and again, and again) on this site, there are some big things happening in Japan right now. Yes, we all know that Japanese designers take inspiration from America, but the fact of the matter is, we really can’t compete with the level of excitement (and honestly the amount of money) that is fueling Japan’s budding menswear community at this moment. Some brands, such as Haversack, Nanamica, Journal Standard, and N. Hoolywood have made an international impact, but many companies, especially those that are only a few collections in, remain virtually unknown here in America.

A large part of this has to do with the tendency of Japanese designers to pick really terrible brand names. No offense to Rulezpeepz or Foot the Coacher, but Japanese brands really do have an uncanny knack for unfortunate monikers. Despite their head scratching names these brands are still creating some incredible pieces, and in many ways are guiding what men are wearing, not just in Japan, but around the world. Therefore we decided to lean into the confusion and bring you the best young Japanese brands, with the worst names.





Snow Peak | The Future of Outdoor Clothing

Oct 27th, 2014 | Categories: Camping, Jake Gallagher, Japan, Portland | by Jake Gallagher

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“Future Amish.”

That’s how Chelsea Parrett of Snow Peak’s Portland team describes the brand’s first foray into clothing. It’s a description that would sound laughable or contrived in almost any other situation, but as Chelsea rattles off the expression, it’s as if she’s stolen the words right out of my mouth. Snowpeak’s soul is in Northwest Japan where the brand was founded fifty-six years ago, but since arriving in America in the late nineties they’ve been at the forefront of the “gentleman camper,” movement, which has deftly intertwined aesthetically pleasing designs with highly functional products.

Snow Peak’s camping gear is nothing short of beautiful, to the point that it makes you question whether a coffee mug, or a collapsible stool, or even a spork is better suited for a campsite or a display case at MoMA.  The collection also lies at the midpoint of ingenuity and elegance, but it’s that “future Amish” vibe that places Snow Peak’s clothing in a different realm, one that is far more thought provoking than many of its outdoor competitors.

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Ralph Lauren and The Boy Scouts of Nippon.

Oct 20th, 2014 | Categories: Camping, History, Jake Gallagher, Japan, Menswear | by Jake Gallagher

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There are vintage finds that make you cry tears of joy. There are vintage finds (mostly of the stained variety) that make you weep for what could have been. And then there are vintage finds that simply leave you scratching your head. A few weeks back, in a downtown consignment store I came upon a vintage find so confounding, so downright unexpected that it has sent me on a quest. The shirt itself was nothing out of the ordinary. Two front pockets, patches on each sleeve, epaulettes up top, really, it looked like any old scouting shirt. Which is why I was drawn to it. Why was this shirt here? Why would a store that sells everything Thom Browne, Rick Owens, and Junya Watanabe be selling a regular old Boy scout shirt? And then I saw the tag. “Boy Scouts of Nippon Designed By Ralph Lauren.”

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Brooklyn’s Japanese Textile Mecca.

Oct 9th, 2014 | Categories: Brooklyn, Jake Gallagher, Japan | by Jake Gallagher

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The first thing Stephen Szczepanek pointed out after I arrived at his 1,200 square foot at the tip of McCarren Park in Greenpoint, Brooklyn was that the various stacks of fabric thoughtfully laid out throughout his apartment were organized by type. As he explained that he’d just returned from Japan this past month, Stephen pointed at the neat piles, listing off names like Shibori, Sashiko, and Kasuri. In two minutes he had casually rambled off more information about antique textiles than most so-called clothing connoisseurs could amass in their entire lives, but as I discovered over the next hour, this was just a glimpse of Stephen’s nearly encyclopedic knowledge on ancient fabrics, which has manifest itself as Sri Threads.

Sri was born during the last gasp of the booming early aughts, after Stephen decided that it was time to turn his love for Japanese fabrics into something more than a passion project. Prior to Sri, Stephen had worked as an art curator, overseeing a private collection of, among other pieces, Asian art, which gave him a first hand introduction to the world of Far East fabrics. After growing weary of his curatorial position, Stephen started his own business in early 2001, opting for the optimistic name Sri, which is a title for the Hindu goddess of prosperity. Unfortunately, in the wake of 9/11 the U.S. economy plummeted, and Stephen struggled with levering the weak dollar against the yen, but he persevered, and over the next decade both his stock and client roster rose steadily.

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Frisco Ivy | Beams Plus A/W ’14

Sep 24th, 2014 | Categories: Jake Gallagher, Japan, Menswear | by Jake Gallagher

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“Go west, young man.”

In 1851 John Babsone Lane Soule coined this phrase in reference to the “Manifest Destiny” seekers of the mid-nineteenth century, but his words were still ringing out over a century later as America’s hippified denizens made the pilgrimage to San Francisco. From the Gold Rush onward, San Francisco had been a proverbial land of opportunity for this country’s itinerant masses, a place for like-minded misfits to come together and find acceptance. While this atmosphere has now unfortunately spawned the monoculture of Silicon Valley, the vibrant and volatile spirit of the sixties still burns on.





On Stands Now | September’s Japanese Magazines

Sep 17th, 2014 | Categories: Jake Gallagher, Japan, Magazines, Menswear | by Jake Gallagher

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While the state of the American magazine seems to get murkier with each passing month, we can say with absolute certainty that the publishing world is alive and well in Japan. It was just a handful of month’s ago that we did our first dive into the world of Japanese menswear magazines and even in that short time several new titles have sprung up to join the stalwarts that made us turn towards Japan to begin with. Some of them teeter on the edge of ridiculousness (particularly “The Barber Book,” which is dedicated solely the style of barbers) but the majority of them are still worth perusing, even if you can’t read a lick of Japanese. Regardless of your respective style there’s undoubtedly a magazine tailored specifically for you, so here’s our round-up of ten Japanese menswear magazines on newsstands now, to help you select the right reading (or should we say, looking) material for this month.

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Theme: “2014 Autumn New Item Express”
Most interesting feature: A twelve page spread on Bozeman, Montana which boldly claims that it’s going to be the next big outdoor hotspot.
Strangest product placement: A custom camo sleeve for disposable coffee cups
Photo shoot aesthetic: Orderly lay downs of products from scores of outdoor brands that are virtually unknown here in America.
Key brands: KletterwerksMystery Ranch, and Goruck
Length: 170 pages





Chimala | Pre-Worn Workwear

Sep 10th, 2014 | Categories: Jake Gallagher, Japan, Menswear | by Jake Gallagher

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The Chimala website contains just two pages – home and contact. In this era of over-cooked brand concepts, their stripped down site is both refreshing and incredibly frustrating. Collection images, stockists, even an about me page, all these things were apparently deemed too frivolous for Chimala. When we look at the site’s of certain Japanese brands like Chimala, we often think – simplicity does create a certain allure, but why must we go on an archaeological dig through the internet just to find a few photos? Fortunately, what Chimala has that many such brands do not is actual accounts, including heavy-hitters like J. Crew, Barneys, Unionmade, and Totokaelo. These stores might have very limited stock of Chimala’s pieces (probably due to sticker shock) but they were drawn, just as we were, to the care that the brand puts into each garment.

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