Japan | A Continuous Lean.

Not So Standard.

Feb 11th, 2015 | Categories: Jake Gallagher, Japan, Menswear, Shopping, Style | by Jake Gallagher

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For many Japanese brands, it’s not enough to only have one line. Companies like Beams, Ships, and United Arrows love to stack up sub-brands and diffusion lines like a hastily made parfait of complementary aesthetics, which each layer bleeding over into the offer. The differences between two given brands under the same umbrella can often be tough to discern – one might be workwear-meets-streetwear, while the other might be streetwear-meets-workwear. It all tends to get lost in translation. Fortunately for Western audiences though, Japanese brands are also known for being masters of visual merchandising. Often times each label will get it’s own lookbook or ad campaign, which is (in most cases) the closest that we’ll ever come to actually interacting with these brands, as many of them are not widely available outside of Japan. This no longer rings as true for Beams and United Arrows, which have recently upped their American and European stockists, but it is still quite true for Journal Standard, another multi-label Japanese brand.

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Why We Should All Respect Hiroshi Fujiwara.

Feb 8th, 2015 | Categories: Design, Jake Gallagher, Japan, Menswear | by Jake Gallagher

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Hiroshi Fujiwara has a resume that most designers could only dream of. In his thirty-plus year career the Fragment Design founder has worked with Nike, Starbucks, Stussy, Neighborhood, Casio, Carhartt, Beats, and Disney. Oh wait, did I say in his career? Because that was just in the past year. Pull back a bit further and you’ll find names like Oakley, Cole Haan, Clarks, Sacai, Visvim, Sophnet, Converse, Levi’s, and Martin Guitar. And that’s just his work as a designer. Fujiwara is also an accomplished musician who has collaborated with Janis Ian and Eric Clapton. Oh, and if that’s not impressive enough he appeared in Lost in Translation.





The Rarest Sweatshirts in the World.

Jan 19th, 2015 | Categories: Jake Gallagher, Japan, Menswear | by Jake Gallagher

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To find one of the rarest fabrics in the world you don’t travel to the Italian countryside, or the Scottish Isles, rather you journey seven hours outside of Tokyo, to the Wakayama Prefecture. There on the southeastern coast of Japan you’ll find the Loopwheeler factory, one of the last bastions of Wakayama’s once robust manufacturing industry. Along with Merz B. Schwanen in the Swabian Mountains of Germany, Loopwheeler is one of the only remaining two factories producing authentic loopwheel terry cloth in the world.





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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