There is no item more essential to stateside style than the good olâ€™ oxford cloth button-down. Affectionately known as the OCBD, this shirt has remained an icon of American style for over a century, which is why it only makes sense that arguably the best oxford on the market right now comes straight from Japan. Before any Ivy League pursuits out there try to burn me at the stake (in a sack suit of course) allow me to explain.
When John E. Brooks, the grandson of Brooks Brothers founder, developed the first OCBD based on a shirt he spotted on English polo players in 1896, he wasnâ€™t merely designing another garment to add to his familyâ€™s repertoire, he was giving birth to a legend. All legends eventually fade though, and over the years measurements have been updated, fits have been tweaked, factories have changed. The Brooks oxford that you can purchase today might be related to its ancestor, but itâ€™s far from a direct clone.
For most Americans these changes donâ€™t even register, but to those that are interested (or pedantic) enough to care, theyâ€™re a deal breaker. Many companies have tried, to varying degrees of success, to recreate the original OCBD over the years, yet none have ever done it as well as Kamakura. The Kamakura story is one that has become curiously familiar over the past few years – a Japanese style aficionado, in this case Yoshio Sadasue, decides to convert his love for the â€œEast Coast lookâ€ into faithful reproductions of archetypical Ivy League garments. This tale is unique though, because Sadasue was not merely raised on the Ivy look, he helped to shape this style in Japan through during his time at the legendary (and yet elusive) trad brand VAN Jacket in the sixties and seventies.
Sadasue founded Kamakura in 1993 with the simple goal of crafting a shirt that could match the standards of an original Brooks Brothers oxford, a shirt that Brooks was now seemingly incapable of making themselves anymore. Using Japanese factories, ultra soft cotton, and the sacred specs of the original OCBD, Sadasue was able to recreate that much beloved shirt right down to the all important collar roll. From there, he has built up the brand to include not only these authentic OCBDâ€™s, but also four different fits, knit shirts, and recently accessories, all produced in Japan and filtered through an American lens.
The spirit of Madison Avenue has always coursed through Kamakuraâ€™s veins, but it wasnâ€™t until this past year that the brand decided to plant their flag in New York. By setting up shop on this well regarded menswear block, Sadasue has positioned Kamakura as a veritable competitor against the somewhat staid storefronts of Americaâ€™s oldest brands. Considering Kamakura seems to be beating these guys at their own game, oh yea, and doing it all for under $80, this is a battle that Kamakura might have already won.
Kamakura makes many different types of shirts in addition to the OCBD, as seen above and below.
Kamakura | 400 Madison Avenue | New York City | 212-308-5266