In our grand tradition of keeping you up to date on the international men’s shop scene, we’ve scoured the globe for the newest openings in your regular haunts—you know, Shanghai, Berlin, the usual. Because you never know when you’re going to need some British tailoring while in Hamburg.
As enthusiasts of a well-tailored lifestyle, our quest for noteworthy handsomeness knows no bounds. We’ve trekked the farthest reaches; from Ibiza to London to Aoyama and back to bring you our next installment of the international store report. Think Savile Row tailoring, Japanese surf style and American heritage with some Hong Kong-ese topspin.
Ah, spring. It has a special way of keeping us guessing.
Near-freezing in the morning. Up to the high 50s by lunch. And then right back down to nippy, just in time for the evening commute.
Luckily, this hand-dyed herringbone down vest by Blue Blue Japan that’s just made the transpacific voyage to SF’s Unionmade is one of the better solutions. Lacking that synthetic sheen that so often plagues quilted vests, it’ll prove a handsome weapon in your arsenal to stave off that early-spring chill. Here’s what else you need to know.
The Story: Blue Blue, a Japanese brand founded in 1990 on the love of indigo and denim craftsmanship, continues their Japanese-interpreted Americana streak by using “natural materials and natural [blue] dyes that are related with traditional Japanese aesthetics and the beautiful four seasons of Japan.” In this case, those natural materials are cotton, but Blue Blue has been known to dabble with “rice-paper yarn” (the mere concept of which leaves us speechless).
Who to Channel: Robert Redford surveying the beauty of his Utah estate with his morning coffee; David Beckham walking the streets of London, avoiding puddles and paparazzi; a stylish urban lumberjack in need of brachial mobility.
When to Wear It: An early-spring day when the temperature is such that your overcoat seems like overkill, but wearing your blazer au naturel would leave you a bit too exposed to the wind.
Degree of Difficulty: Easier than you might think. If it’s warm enough, the down filling should handily fulfill all of your outerwear needs. If you need to add a layer of removable warmth to your cottony spring blazer, though, you could up the degree of difficulty by either wearing it like a waistcoat or going full Wooster and just watching as the flashbulbs go crazy.
NYFW is coming to a close. But it seems the fashion gods were saving the best (or at least the most memorable) for last—we stumbled upon the most mind-blowing presentation of them all yesterday. It went by the name of Leather Japan and it was quite the way to go out.
Allow us to explain…
The Background: A consortium of eight Japanese leather designers teamed up for a show that seems designed to confirm whatever stereotypes you have about Japan’s tendency to get overzealous. On display: a 10-piece “folk-punk” band. Stuffed crows wearing leather jewelry. Surprisingly cool sneakers. Some pretty out-there clothes. And lots and lots of sake to wash it all down.
Degree of Difficulty: Very high, unless you stick to the sneakers and nothing but the sneakers… or play in a 10-piece Japanese folk-punk band.
The Showstopper: The spectacle itself.
Fictional girlfriends aside, there are a lot of great things to be said about the fantastical escapism provided by the Internet.
And there’s no faster escape route than Tumblr. So since it’s Friday and we’ve got a long weekend ahead of us, we thought we’d help guide you on the pictorial menswear journey you’ll inevitably find yourself lost on, sometime in the next 72 hours. Whether you’re in the mood for super-sprezzatura, American nostalgia or just cool pictures of the extremely fashionable people traipsing around Europe—we’ve got you covered.
Just when you thought there wasn’t any more room in your closet for another tweed blazer…
We went and dug up this spectacular Nep Tweed Blazer from Beams+.
Oh, and before we forget to mention it: Unionmade’s got it for 40% off as part of the epic Fall-40 sale they launched this morning. Here’s what else you need to know about your newest blazer.
The Story: The near-mythical Japanese label Beams+ was once impossible to find on American shores, until the fine folks at Unionmade began smuggling it (legally) over here for the past few years. Now you’ve got a chance to get ahold of this stuff without a proxy or the full price tag.
Who to Channel: The Scottish countryside; a bookish professor at Cambridge with a penchant for the New York Mets—the “nep weave” intersperses flecks of oranges and blues in the houndstooth; Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry.
When to Wear It: From the moment your shipment arrives till the temps start getting above 50 degrees. And then when fall comes around and the temps start dipping toward 50 degrees and lower again.
Degree of Difficulty: About as hard as it is to slip into a fine tweed blazer.
We’re still trying to figure out what these boots might say about you.
But if you’re in the market for some handsome shell cordovan leather wingtip cowboy boots, look no further than these Wingtip Ropers from Yuketen that have recently arrived at Context Clothing. Here’s what else you should know about them:
The Story: Yuki Matsuda has been heading up the Japanese-led Americana revival for nearly three decades, while making some incredible American-made shoes along the way. But for these boots, he’s leaned on the ranchero expertise of Mexico—where they’ve been meticulously crafted from Horween shell cordovan #8 in a limited run.
Who to Channel: Whatever a dandified British-Texan oil baron rancher might look like—perhaps a mashup of Prince Charles and George W. Bush.
Or Spend Your $1,114 On: 12.9 barrels of crude oil, an old pickup truck or a shell cordovan leather wallet to hold your remaining $1,000 in.
Degree of Difficulty: High to impossibly high.
By now, you know the shape of American baseball. There are the sluggers, the DH arguments, the sabermetrics partisans, the steroids, the astroturf. Of course, the game is beautiful enough to overcome all that, but for a few seasons now, I’ve been thinking it might be nice to see the game from a different angle, maybe even a different continent.
And so, perhaps inevitably, I started watching Japanese baseball…
The denim shirt doesn’t get much respect. In fact, it’s most often recognized as the cummerbund of the Canadian tuxedo. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
The West Coast denim artisans at Rogue Territory just unveiled their denim work shirt, and it’s another beast entirely. The fabric is 13.5-ounce overdyed denim from Japan, which means it’s got more in common with raw denim than the broken-in hues you see in most cowboy shirts. In other words, it’s a denim shirt for denimheads.
Given the growing respectability of the denim shirt (exhibit A), we’d say it got here at the perfect time. Just be ready to break it in.
The legendary Japanese label Beams+ doesn’t show up much outside of Tokyo, but in recent years the folks at Unionmade have developed a reputation for smuggling their clothes onto American shores.
The latest crop arrived this week, and it’s pretty spectacular, from royal blue cropped chinos to one of the sharpest cardigans we’ve seen all winter. Designers take note: the weave is so loose, you can practically see through it.
It’s not cheap (customs can have that effect), but it’s good news for anyone with a yen for translated Americana… and anyone who happens to be living close enough to SF to see the goods in person.
Ladies and gentlemen, the artisanal scissor.
We know, that’s crazy, but once you get past the basic incredulity reflex, it’s not such a bad idea—and maybe worth the 90 bucks you’d be dropping on the thing. It’s made from impeccably burnished copper, in a fourth-generation atelier in Kanazawa, Japan. Everything about it is handsome, from the patina of the metal to the slice of the action.
If you know anyone who takes their paper-cutting that seriously, you may be about to make their day.
One trick to gift giving is finding something you can be absolutely sure your giftee doesn’t have—which is why a Japanese pocketknife is a surprisingly good pick.
This one is notable for not having any locking action (you just keep your thumb on that lever), but mostly it’s the world’s coolest letter opener. We can easily imagine one on Gekko’s desk, which is saying something. Think of it as a power trinket.
This is Humberto Leon, co-founder of Opening Ceremony and, for a certain breed of New Yorker, the ne plus ultra of forward-thinking style. He’s sharper, more avant-garde and just plain cooler than any other store owner on earth.
And yet, somehow, he was photographed at Fashion’s Night Out Tokyo with not one but two hallmarks of bad ’90s style: the peekaboo white undershirt and the infamous square-toed shoe.
We’re just not sure what to believe. Have these things passed through the gauntlet of uncoolness and become so cool that only Humberto Leon knows about it? Is it only okay in Japan? Has this picture been photoshopped and planted in WWD by his powerful and numerous enemies? Did he lose his tie?
This could go all the way to the top.
Speaking of Japan, one of the country’s most overlooked labels just released a new lookbook for fall/winter, complete with bear-hugging cardigans and extremely scrappy blazers. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Milok.
They’re still working the neckerchief-ascot continuum like the last time we checked in, but now it feels a bit more Californian than Argentinean. None of them are easy pieces to pull off, but they make for pretty unassuming statement pieces. Now all they have to do is make it into a few shops.
Also, that bedhead is either a commentary on their status as a slept-on brand or the result of some kind of static-electric event. We’re going to assume it’s the first one.
The hoodie doesn’t get a lot of respect, but when you’re settling in for a quiet Sunday night of playoff basketball and slow-cooked pork, it’s nice to have one around. Preferably one that’s soft, warm and Japanese.
This Anachronorm zip-up is all three, in a heathered midnight blue that looks suspiciously like raw denim—right down to the rivets. It makes sense, given all the amazing jeans they’ve put out over the years.
The only downside: you’ll have to keep it quarantined from your real-life denim. But hopefully you’ve got a pair of beater khakis for just these occasions.
We’ve been poring through Gordon von Steiner’s Japanese street style shots all morning, and we’re very impressed—both with GQ and with Japan as a country. There’s plenty of Navajo print and camo on display, but we were more taken by the shift to bigger scarves and smaller jackets seen here. The gent on the right is basically wearing a blanket over his shoulders to casually transform his leather jacket into a winter coat. You’ll need an extra peg on your coat rack—but otherwise, all it takes is a mild winter day, a few yards of flannel and some courage.
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