The Japanese Brands You Need To Know
MR PORTER teams up with Beams to bring you a wealth of brilliant new designers from the land of the rising sun.
Every time the MR PORTER team visits Tokyo, we’re left wanting more. And we’re not just talking about the late-night karaoke and sizzling helpings of okonomiyaki (a sort of delicious seafood pancake, served straight from the hotplate), though those are among the highlights of our regular trips. More than that, as we’ve noted repeatedly in the past few years, the Japanese capital is one of the most exciting hotbeds of men’s style on the planet.
Home to an overwhelming number of pioneering designers and brands, Tokyo may be a diverse city, but it’s united in what MR PORTER’s buyer Mr Daniel Todd rightly calls “a heightened respect and awareness in terms of product”. Of course, we know that you, MR PORTER’s readers and customers, appreciate these brands, too, so as often as possible we try and add more to our roster.
For spring 2016, however, we’ve gone a little deeper, and got some on-the-ground help. Working closely with our longtime collaborator Beams, one of the biggest and most respected fashion retailers in Japan, we’ve sought out six lesser-known Japanese brands to create exclusive capsules for MR PORTER, launching this week. We also took another trip to Tokyo – because obviously we needed an excuse – to meet the designer behind each brand, resulting in the short film above. Watch it now to discover the talents behind some of Japan’s most exciting new brands, or scroll down to find out more about each collection.
Marvy Jamoke (a punning name that roughly translates as Nice Bad Guy) offers casual basics executed with a technical precision that reflect designer Mr Keita Sasaki’s love of vintage military gear. Look here for timeless designs with precise details, such as grosgrain-trimmed shirt plackets or T-shirts with breathable panels.
Launched in 2011 by a collective of graphic designers, Aloye is known for its “cut and sew” panelled T-shirts, all of which are created with the sharp eye for colour and geometry you might expect, given the team’s background. The MR PORTER capsule focuses on long- and short-sleeved variations of Aloye’s coveted, colour-blocked designs, in a subtle palette of white, black and blue.
Sifting through a collection from streetwise brand Sasquatchfabrix. is like taking a giddy walk through Tokyo’s Shibuya district, so brilliantly does its designer Mr Daisuke Yokoyama capture the city’s flurried co-mingling of East and West in his clothes. Key pieces in the MR PORTER capsule include an all-American coach jacket, embroidered with a Fuji-esque volcanic mountainscape, and slouchy, oversized tees printed with firework designs that recall traditional Japanese textiles. There’s a brilliantly cavalier approach to mixing and matching influences from opposite sides of the globe, as well as a palpable sense of fun that it’s easy to get hooked on.
Once in a while, someone comes along with an idea so brilliant it seems crazy no one thought of it before. A case in point is Teätora, a brand designed by Mr Daisuke Kamide, which aims to redefine the idea of workwear, given that the way we work has changed radically since the term was invented. These are clothes for the majority of men whose “work”, rather than digging pits or lassoing heifers, involves Post-its, office hours and a desk. Or, as it says somewhat poetically on the Teätora website, for “creators battling in work chairs”. In other words, it is a collection of sharp, smart-casual tailoring designed with function in mind. Look out, in particular, for the packable blazer and One Day tee that feature in MR PORTER’s capsule.
This brand is all about Japanese craftsmanship. Which means every aspect of every Kics Document. product is 100 per cent sourced in Japan, from the fabrics (which come from select local mills) to the finishings and the cutters and sewers who bring it all together. The brand’s speciality is impeccably made shirts in classic textiles, but with subtle design twists. If you’re obsessed with the provenance of your clothing, this is the brand for you.
The key to orSlow, designed by Mr Ichiro Nakatsu, is in its name – the “slow” referring to its design and manufacturing process, and the careful attention that is poured into each of its workwear-inspired products. For its MR PORTER capsule, the brand has focused on aged denim and patchwork pieces rendered in custom-woven fabrics that are produced in-house (Mr Nakatsu is serious about the “slow” thing). Created from the thread upwards to achieve a perfect vintage finish, these aim to recreate the appealing feel of antique garments from the 1950s and 1960s.
Beams x MoonStar
In Japan, even today, workmen tend to wear the traditional tabi boot, a plimsole-like piece of footwear with a sturdy rubber sole and a split across the canvas upper to separate the toes. Shoe brand MoonStar started life in 1873 as a producer of such pieces, but today offers a line of pleasingly utilitarian sneakers that reflect its 100-plus years of experience in the trade. As part of Beams and MR PORTER’s collaboration for spring 2016, the Japanese retailer has worked with MoonStar to create a new collection of slip-on and lace-up sneakers that is exclusive to MR PORTER. Working with an understated palette of black, white and off-white, the pieces are a minimalists dream and essential for the made-in-Japan enthusiast.
Film by Mr Jacopo Maria Cinti