How Japan’s Sartorial Stars Get It Right Every Time
Mr Shuhei Nishiguchi, Florence, 2015. Photograph by Mr Adam Katz Sinding
Japan is currently undergoing a sea change. The country recently entered into the new Reiwa era after the emperor abdicated, the first time this has happened in 200 years. Plus, excitement for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo is reaching fever pitch. Something that hasn’t altered in Japan, though, is the commitment to good clothes. The Japanese have a talent for clothing. Making it, reinforcing it, reinventing it, and, of course, wearing it.
The social pressure to look presentable combined with a seemingly innate gift for styling and an appreciation for fabric quality is perhaps part of the reason. There’s also the country’s long history of studied appropriation, in which trends from the US were imported, adapted, perfected and surpassed. But in truth, the Japanese knack for fashion is a mostly ineffable thing. For whatever reason, there’s a certain, impeccable put-togetherness about the culture that’s as clear to observe on the streets of Harajuku, where local teenagers take the latest trends to their logical extremes, as it is at Pitti Uomo and other international fashion weeks, where Japanese buyers and industry figures school the world in how to wear suits and tailored clothing with incredible verve. Below, we focus on six men who are paragons of the latter style school. Prepare to follow them now.
Mr Takahiro Kinoshita
Mr Takahiro Kinoshita, Paris, 2017. Photograph by Mr Adam Katz Sinding
One of the biggest players in the Japanese menswear game, Mr Takahiro Kinoshita has a rather glittering curriculum vitae. Starting out at the men’s fashion magazine BRUTUS, he moved to Popeye in 2012 and served as the influential publication’s editor-in-chief until last year, when he was appointed the executive officer of Fast Retailing, which owns Uniqlo. Seen here in a striped seersucker suit, Mr Kinoshita excels at sartorial details: note the tie clip, the rounded collar, the hefty-rimmed spectacles, and the pen that sits tucked into his shirt pocket.
Mr Yukio Akamine
Mr Yukio Akamine (left), Florence, 2018. Photograph by Mr Jamie Ferguson
If you do one thing today, follow Mr Yukio Akamine on Instagram (@akamineyukio). The fashion consultant and writer posts a daily photograph of what he is wearing, and it is inevitably brilliant (menswear folklore has it that there is not a bad photograph of this man in existence). A veritably cinematic dresser, Mr Akamine favours Florentine tailoring and British shoes (usually John Lobb), although he can rock a cashmere pullover and a pair of sneakers just as well. Frequently appearing on Mr Scott Schuman’s street-style blog The Sartorialist, he is pictured above with the photographer, looking characteristically elegant.
Mr Shuhei Nishiguchi
Mr Shuhei Nishiguchi, Florence, 2018. Photograph by Mr Charles-Edouard Woisselin
You don’t get to become the fashion director of Beams without knowing a thing or two about your own personal style. Mr Shuhei Nishiguchi is the kind of man whose name you might not be familiar with, but whom you’ve probably seen on social media or street-style blogs (or, in the portfolio MR PORTER shot for the launch of our Beams F capsule this January). An expert in looking simultaneously smart yet contemporary, Mr Nishiguchi’s style incorporates 1950s tailoring with cuts and styling that always feel modern. Note his big-lapelled one-and-a-half-breasted brown suit, subtle pocket square, fat stripy tie and jaunty panama hat – all hard to pull off, but all the better that Mr Nishiguchi has managed to.
Mr Yasuto Kamoshita
Mr Yasuto Kamoshita, London, 2018. Photograph by Mr Jamie Ferguson
An arbiter of Japan’s famous take on Ivy League style, Mr Yasuto Kamoshita is consistently recognised as one of the best-dressed men in Japan. The founder of menswear brand Camoshita (“K is very Japanese, replacing it with C adds an Italian twist, I think,” he told MR PORTER in 2016), he favours neutral-coloured tailoring, and originally trained as an architect before doing a U-turn to work in fashion. As you can see, he turned out to be rather good at it.
Mr Noboru Kakuta
Mr Noboru Kakuta, Florence, 2019. Photograph by Mr Jamie Ferguson
Mr Noboru Kakuta is consistently immaculate in his approach to dressing. Rakish in height, he favours navy (almost all pictures of him feature either a navy jacket or a pair of indigo jeans), is sharply dressed enough that a pair of denim jeans look like finely tailored trousers when he wears them. Snapped regularly at Pitti Uomo, he is often called, simply, “The Master” by fans of his style.
Mr Hirofumi Kurino
Mr Hirofumi Kurino, Florence, 2015. Photograph by Mr Adam Katz Sinding
If the Japanese menswear market was Mount Olympus, Mr Hirofumi Kurino might just be Zeus. The white-haired polymath is known for being a co-founder of Japanese retailing giant United Arrows, and remains one of the most intelligent and respected forces in menswear today. As you might expect, he’s also not too shabby at dressing himself, either, and can throw together Ivy League style better than anyone on an American university campus, as well as having the peculiar talent to wear everything from dad sneakers to neckties and printed blazers, and still look like the coolest man in the room.
The men featured in this story are not associated with and do not endorse MR PORTER or the products shown