It’s time to dive deep on some of the great outfits I saw (and wore) during my 11 day trip in Japan!
Let me first state that in general, Japan is a very stylish country. It could just be my bias, but I found it incredibly more interesting than when I walked around London or even New York. If you follow me on instagram, you’ll know that I have a penchant for Japanese style, dabbling in the more casual faire on the weekends or days off.
One of the first thing I noticed is that they have a great approach that is equal parts utilitarian and minimal most likely due to the fact that public transportation/walking is the main way to get around. So as a result, you’ll see a lot of people wearing hats (buckets!), breezy wide leg pants, and softly tailored/unstructured jackets. This fit and silhouette comes in color combinations are typically tasteful, in plain neutral earth tones, all of which have come to define “Japanese style” in the minds of most. Think MUJI (which is a great mall-brand) and some Uniqlo U; much different than the slim/fashion-y vibes of Zara and Banana Republic.
You can attribute some of this to the explosion of ivy style (and classic American style in general) during the post-war period. The book Ametora details this culture change, as most of the dress was either traditional or in the 30’s drape cut. Pretty soon, “gangs” of ivy boys started to flood the streets, with their 3-roll-2 jackets and cropped chinos, shrunk down in their homes. Eventually other style gangs would come out, each with their own take on style. It really is an interesting fashion-sociological story.
Anyway, it is clear that ivy style has continued to define Japanese classic menswear. As I mention the trip/store recap, almost every jacket sold was 3-roll-2, soft shouldered, and contained reasonably high-rise trousers; this was reflected on the actual street style I saw on salary men. Here in LA, you typically see guys in J. Crew Ludlow/BR suits, which are two buttoned, have a bit of padding, and are matched with medium rise trousers (and lets not forget the tan shoes). The contrast in menswear is so real in Japan!
If the second hand stores filled with high quality, soft tailoring are any indication, then yes, they clearly know their shit and like wearing them. And while America bemoans its loss of the tie, corporate culture is much more prominent. Though I’d argue, it looks better than America thanks to the attention they give to good tailoring rather than wearing a suit because you have to.
So to start, please enjoy a few images, awkwardly snapped by me while walking around Tokyo.
Now the truly well dressed people were the people working the stores. Sure it’s a bit different than the street style (as people lead different lifestyles), but jeez, they’re miles ahead of any one I’ve seen working at most menswear stores in LA.
Just look at the picture of a Tomorrowland sales associate above. With the printed sport shirt, schlumpy (in a good way) cotton jacket, rust wide leg chinos, and leather sandals, he looks fucking amazing, almost exactly channeling Tony Sylvester at last year’s Pitti. I feel like I’m going to steal this look!
The guys at the Suit Company had some of the best outfits, which is surprising, since it seems to be Japan’s answer to Menswear House. However, there’s no baggy suits or overly customized Joseph Abboud custom suits here! They all look like they could be spotted buying at Pitti or at the very least, be found at one of those Armoury or Drake’s parties in NYC.
Everyone should be taking notes from these well dressed gentlemen.
Before we get into the people I actually met (and didn’t just creeper shot), let me briefly talk about the style at Disneyland. Now, I used to be a big D-Head (had an annual pass throughout college) so I was at the Parks quite often. The style in Disney was practically non-existent; at most it was a casual button up and jeans, but a majority of people were there in the most basic things with some just in athletic wear (joggers and tanks). It’s especially most apparent with girls, who will wear a tank top (could be disney themed), yoga pants, and Minnie ears.
This is not the case in Japan. Almost every Japanese person I saw in the parks was incredibly stylish, in their own way! In fact, only the tourists were the sloppy ones. I saw everything from Disney pop style to minimalism; really puts America to shame. The best part was how they incorporated Disney merch into their styles. They weren’t afraid to wear some narmy ears and sweatbands with their CDG shirts!
Now let’s get to the people I took proper portraits of. It’s really an awesome feeling to have made so many friends abroad just by working and being passionate about menswear. This community aspect is detailed by the punks-in-menswear piece by Natty Adams, but I liken it more to how I felt meeting tumblr friends IRL back in the day. I mean, it’s all internet communication and a shared interest in something niche.
Anyway, enjoy all my new friends in Japan!
Takahiro of Drake’s G6
First on my recap is Takahiro (or Naka on IG) of Drake’s Ginza Six. An incredibly sweet human, Takahiro was super excited to see me at his store; the feeling was definitely mutual. He always has a grin on his face and was more than happy to oblige my picture habit and my need to try on everything I liked in the store. I explained to him that the Bloke (which stocks Drake’s) doesn’t carry much of my size. We then talked about what it’s like to work for the brand and how it functions as an interesting attachment to British Made. If you read the store recap, you’ll know that this Drake’s actually is found inside the aforementioned store, on the top level of the G6 mall. A very different vibe to the one’s in NYC and London.
I thought that Takahiro was dressed amazingly. It’s definitely different than the guys I’ve met before, who tend to be more on the fully-tailored side of things. Here, Takahiro gets to show case the more casual side of Drake’s with a well loved linen chore coat, vibrant blue polo, chinos, and espadrilles. Come to think of it, don’t think I’ve seen this stuff outside of mannequins and their Lanzarote editorial (which still skews toward tailoring and ties). It’s an easy going outfit that is probably perfect for the heat and all the damn walking you have to do in this town!
Giulietta of Oscar Hunt Tailors
Giulietta Falvo was an absolute delight! She actually messaged me when I announced my trip and it turns out that I’d be in Kyoto before she would be, but perhaps we could meet if the timing worked out; I’m glad it did! We ended up having an impromptu coffee meet of sorts, during the hour or so before her shinkansen to Kyoto.
Wearing a beautiful cream ensemble, we talked quite a bit, from her job at the esteemed Aussie MTM brand Oscar Hunt Tailors to her recommendations of anime and manga. You may have seen her at Pitti a few times, mingling with the other greats of the menswear world. Quite the accomplishment, as we’re about the same age! She’s really done so much at her job, as she’s been with the brand for quite a few years (5 I believe), offering up new ideas and spearheading a few different projects that I’m sure we’ll see in due time.
I hope our paths cross again soon!
Didn’t catch their names (and they didn’t work when I came back to buy that chambray spearpoint work shirt), but I’m that they agreed to have their picture taken! Now that I think about it, the fella on the left could have been the Shibuya dude with the bike I snapped earlier, simply due to the similar beanie and glasses.
Love the uses of denim here, which makes sense, considering that they work for Momotaro. The guy on the left has more of my preferred style, wearing an OCBD with a type 2 jacket, and wider fit jeans. I’m still not too much of a workwear guy, but outfits like this make me rethink that notion. Slightly.
Kousuke is the man. Working at the Ebisu Kamakaura, Kousuke is a fellow young guy who likes classic menswear and has a penchant for thrifting and vintage picking. He was the guy who told me to meet him in Koenji for all the wild vintage stores that literally blow anything in LA out of the water. Kousuke also knows Yamamoto-san pretty well and a few of the other cool cats, like Louis, the man behind Fairfax, and Takahiro Abe (who skews more 1930s-40s).
Meeting up with me on an incredibly hot day, he was decked out on a pretty simple and casual prep outfit. Love the classic white bucket hat (with the repp ribbon) and the OCBD, but the real hero is the patchwork madras shorts. I feel like I’ve seen a Hozumi illustration of this outfit somewhere before. I would love to see his tailored attire sometime, but that just means I have to come back. As you remember, I didn’t have much time in Koenji, so a return is an absolute certainty!
Kent Shop Aoyama
This exquisitely dressed man was the shop keeper of Kent Shop, the ivy Mecca that sells beloved VAN Jacket products. He didn’t say much, other than offer a few sizes and a great note that “this bag is very famous”, but I could just feel the stories that he must have. In an interesting ivy move, he wears a yellow contrast club collar shirt with a green blackwatch tie. Trousers are in the staple mid-grey and are flat front, per the trad tradition.
I honestly was a little bit nervous and excited to be in the store, so that’s probably why I didn’t press him to talk more. Maybe next time I go, I’ll loosen up! Either way, he was extremely helpful and happy that I bought a few things to remember my trip.
Not much to say here because I don’t know these people (but perhaps they were at Inspiration LA?) but they were dressed very well and smiled when I asked to take their picture! Love the variety in attire here, from the Ivy/milsurp on the left, to the aloha+panama combo in the center, to the awesome denim ensemble on the right. Looks so effortlessly cool and matches with the workwear vibe of the store.
There will be more on the Ring Jacket Aoyama experience in a second, but lets first talk about the staff attire. Now RJ is one of the most notable of Japanese RTW brands and is a a fairly recent addition to the world wide market with their partnership with The Armoury and the opening of an NYC store.
Sho (on the left) was my salesman and helped me pick out my balloon jacket (again, more on that later). He has quite the interesting outfit: a checked DB with a dark mustard polo, khakis, and sockless penny loafers. It’s a bit of a 1960’s palette with dash of modernity. Sho’s colleague has more of a straight forward ivy-ish, biz-caz look. Props for the use ofa spread collar (rather than button-down) blue gingham in a shade that isn’t the meme one.
I didn’t mention BR Shop in my recap because it was such a brief stop on my way to Bryceland’s, but it was an interesting store. It’s definitely geared to younger people (not many 3-roll-2 in sight), with an emphasis on casual tailoring and fun sportshirts.
I thought it would be great to capture the staff’s style and Kenshu (right) obliged. I love how the slim, casual nature of the [cotton?] suit works for him, ofset by the chunky white Nike’s. His colleague has a more traditional outfit (save for the use of black jeans), with a blue linen shirt and cream cardigan (evoking a picture of Raj that I’ve actually seen on a few tumblrs and inspiration albums). I was always impressed by the amount of layers I saw on Japanese people; I was sweating so much just from a rayon shirt!
Beams + is so cool. I’m so happy that there is a store that does true ivy/vintage inspired clothing for the younger crowd; I’m a little tired of seeing H&M, J. Crew, and Suit Supply in its most basic forms. Fujii (in the dynamite red shorts) recognized me when I was shopping around/taking pictures and I got to pick his brain about his Beams experience a bit. Ya’ll already know that I’m here to make friends!
After our brief conversation (where he led me to buy a great <$10 tee), I asked him and his colleagues if I could take their picture. And man, what a stylish crew. I already loved Fujii’s casual prep outfit (shorts and jacket are growing on me), but check out the rest: workwear/aloha, trad with a blazer and horizontal strip knit tie, and a bit of camping chic. Shop boys indeed!
Yamamoto-San of Tailor CAID
Up next is Yamamoto-san of Tailor CAID. I’m going to be pretty brief here, as I’m going to focus on him in his own article, but I felt bad about not including him with the rest of this list! For the time being, just know that he was an incredible host and an incredibly knowledgeable tailor/menswear enthusiast. You’d be hard pressed to find a vintage cream linen ivy sack-suit (with some cool details you will see later), but luckily through CAID bespoke, you won’t have to worry. His outfit is literal perfection.
I can’t wait to tell you guys about this experience.
Speaking of things that will have to come later, I’ll have to tease you with Ethan Newton and Yamada’s outfits at Bryceland’s Co. You guys should know that Bryceland’s is one of my favorite brands, not because of their products (I don’t own anything) but because of how they integrate vintage vibes/designs with contemporary tailoring. This is all mainly evident thanks to the attire of it’s founders, Kenji Cheung and Mr. Newton.
He actually wears an outfit that is similar to an old one I did, but I think he does it much better. Ethan broadcasts the ease of a silverbelly fedora, which goes smashingly with a linen guayabera shirt, Ambrosi trousers, and a non-jaunty scarf.
Yamada is Ethan’s shopkeeper and is probably the main face you’ll know if you shop in the Japan store (as Ethan tends to travel). He pretty much wears a Bryceland’s uniform of sorts, with their Type-1 denim jacket worn with a knit tie and Ambrosi chinos. It certainly is a great mix of tailoring and workwear/vintage that is largely absent in the greater world of menswear.
More on Bryceland’s later.
Ron & Audrey of Brillington
While I did get to meet a few of my style idols and favorite stores, I think one of the biggest highlights was getting to meet/drink with the couple behind Brillington, Indonesia’s premiere tailoring house and menswear store. As I noted in the recap, we got pretty drunk (or at least I was close to it), which lead to some fun shenanigans in Shinjuku. I learned their journey and about the community in Jakarta by talking to their founders (in Tokyo on family vacation) Ron and Audrey. Both are ex-creatives (design and advertising I think) who started this tailoring house to bring new life to the sartorial world of Jakarta.
Ron is up first, wearing a minimalistic satorial-casual outfit. A striped tee and trousers can look very 40’s-50’s youth, but he removes that overt vintage connotation by keeping things monochromatic (black is underrated!) and keeping the tee untucked. The result is a very slouchy and easy-going take that I love. Shout out for having round frames as well.
The cool thing is that he didn’t mind admitting that his shirt is from Uniqlo. There’s nothing wrong with that (I buy quite a bit from Uniqlo), but I know that in the world of tailoring, there can be a bit of a stigma against using mall-brands. Don’t worry guys; Uniqlo is one of the good ones.
Audrey is Ron’s lovely wife, who was actually one my the first gateways into Brillington. She’s an incredibly stylish person, who mixes in vintage and modern clothes in a great way. If I was a girl, I’d definitely dress like her entire Instagram feed.
I love that the base (under-jacket) look is very camping/rugged ivy. The plaid shirt and tied bandana is a great match for the wide military chinos, accented with chunky Paraboots. The vibe is changed up with their house double-breasted blazer; the resultant mix is very Japanese in my eyes and I’m loving it.
If there are any girls in LA who dress like this holla at ya boi
I’m honestly glad I was able to hang out with them quite a few times (and snap these pictures) during my Japan trip. They’re a great couple with great ideas and heart for tailoring. Let’s make a petition and get them to come to LA. I’m sure you guy would love to meet them! They’re big dorks like the rest of us.
Kotaro & Shin of Kamakura
Like I mentioned in the trip recap, Kotaro (left) works for Kamakura corporate and does a lot of adhoc assignments, like the webstore or wholesale to places like The Bloke. He wanted to meet with me and since I was keen on buying one of their unlined sport ivy shirts, he suggested that I go to the shop in Ginza as it was the biggest one with the most selection. He and Shinn were the main guys to help me out. And to no one’s surprise, they look damn good!
Kotaro, like many of his fellow Japanese men, was wearing a 3-roll-2 suit. With the fairly trim lapels, soft shoulder, and solid grey color, the suit looks like it stepped right out of the 1960’s. It lacks more “vintage details” like the swelled edges, but it’s a great one. Just the right amount of interest and corporate-ness rolled into one.
Instead of going full ivy with a button down collar, Kotaro instead opts for a blue stripe spread collar. A subtle difference, but it’s a good one, tied together (haha) with a minimalistic paisley tie. He’s got great style and I hope to see more of him soon. Kotaro said that he loves working with the Bloke, so let’s see if more can come from this partnership.
I didn’t get to talk to Shinnosuke very much during my visit (as I was mainly talking to Kotaro) but I had to make sure I got to snap a picture of him and his dope seersucker suit. It appears to be 3-roll-2, with hip patch pockets, a pretty perfect garment; I don’t own a seersucker suit and seeing one makes me hanker for it hard. Love the use of a pinned OCBD and black knit tie, which is echoed in the black loafers. I’ve been feeling black shoes lately and there may or may not be a blog post on them in the far future.
Moto of Sarto Ginza
We finish off the style recap with Moto of Sarto Ginza. Like Tailor CAID and Bryceland’s, I’m going to give that unique shop an article of it’s own, but he needed to be included in this absolutely stellar line up. It’s clear that he’s a man of great taste, but this ex-real estate guy has started something very interesting in Ginza. I’m incredibly glad to have been able to meet him and talk about his space.
His outfit is a bit more contemporary than the others in this spread, as the combination of a polo, sportcoat, trousers, and sockless loafers feels Italian and is yet such a worldwide look. It calls to mind how Bruce Boyer commented that in the past, he could tell someone’s style by the suit; now it’s a bit more ambiguous, with tailors all over the world taking cues from each other. Suffice it to say, Moto looks damn good.
The United Arrows brown houndstooth jacket (a grail of mine) pairs extremely well with his MTM green polo which has a deep placket, removing any connotations to that 90s biz-caz look we’ve come to hate. Also I must mention his string loafers, from Crockett & Jones.
He was the last person I met in Tokyo before heading off to the airport. Hot stuff, Moto, hot stuff.
So let’s end the article by talking about my attire during the trip. You guys know that this isn’t my first trip since I’ve gotten into menwear. I’ve learned a lot from the past, like investing in more summer-appropriate tailoring after Europe and comfortable shoes after dying in NYC. And while I knew that I would be visiting a few of my inspirations, friends, and colleagues, I knew that I didn’t need to overcompensate and wear a full suit and tie. This was a vacation after all, and I wanted to be comfortable.
I still probably packed too much (a lot of people suggested I do laundry in Tokyo), but I went pretty barebones when compared to previous excursions. I leaned pretty hard on jeans, tee shirts, sport shirts, and casual jackets (chore coat and jungle jackets). It’s not sloppy, but it isn’t dressed up either; I did bring a few OCBDs, some chinos, and one cotton-linen sportcoat just in case. I just cycled between all the pieces depending on the day’s activities. And to hold all my shit, I brought my custom L.L Bean tote, as the sturdy canvas and zipper top provides the needed security during travel.
Overall, I was pretty happy with what I decided to bring. It help that I’ve really honed in on my casual style, which blends together workwear, ivy, and vintage-casual. I wasn’t going to be that menswear blogger, walking around in a tie; instead I wanted to fit in and just be my normal self. I think I succeeded in that.
This was what I wore on the plane and was basically my first outfit in Tokyo. We landed in Haneda at 6AM, got to Kyoto at 1PM and didn’t get to check into our Kyoto hotel until the afternoon, so I was forced to wear this the whole day. Thankfully, it wasn’t that bad out and a simple tee, jungle jacket, and denim was just fine. Good to trek around Fushimi Inari.
The jeans are the hefty Thee Teenaged ones I got last year. They’re high rise and a straight-wide leg, which makes them ideal for more rugged/vintage looks. Because they aren’t exactly tailoring friendly (mainly due to the sizable cuff that is needed), I don’t wear them; I typically bring my cinch back LVCs on trips. As a result of not being worn often, the Teenaged denim has remained pretty stiff. I made sure to wear them on this trip so they could soften up by my copious amounts of sweat.
And yes, those are white Vans authentics! I wanted a canvas white sneaker that was different than my vintage Converse. The Sperry CVO and similar deck shoes were up my alley for a casual ivy spin, but after all my issues with shoes (which meant I’ve had to give up my Colchesters and modern high top converse), I wanted to make sure I could try on multiple pairs to get the right size. Luckily, J. Crew was having a sale on their Vans and I was able to figure out my size, so I copped these white authentics for $35. They are chunkier and rounder than the classic deck shoe, but the Vans serve me just fine.
They certainly got a work out in Japan!
Let me just say that the jungle jacket really came in clutch. It went with everything (as it should) and was completely utilitarian, thanks to the multitude of pockets. Now I typically don’t use the breast pockets, but because of how many times I needed to take out my wallet, phone, and SUICA card, I decided to go all in. It actually was incredibly useful, more so than keeping things in my bag or in my jeans pockets.
Rolling up the sleeves was not only needed for the heat, but results in more of Vietnam-era look that I dig.
This outfit has a few of updated items to my wardrobe. First is the faded vintage bucket hat, bought from the PTO sale. I actually lost my navy one, but to be honest, the waxed cotton wasn’t suitable at all for heat; this open weave and soft one was perfect.
If you think that the chore coat is new, you’d be correct. It’s a jersey-knit one from Uniqlo, bought on final sale. While I do like the ones I’ve owned in the past, I decided I wanted a modern one that isn’t distressed, in order to make a more minimal look rather than a vintage-workwear one. Even though it has poly for the stretch, it was a great buy, with triple patch pockets (the breast one was perfect for the phone) and an interior pocket for that JR Pass and wallet. The deep navy is versatile and goes with everything; I find myself wearing it more than my vintage ones!
Lastly, we have the cut-off chinos. I’ve wanted a slouchy, non-sartorial pair for a while but never found the right ones. In the end, I just cut the hem of an old pair of pleated Uniqlo chinos that I never really wore anymore. I find that this gives them a bit of a punk-edge and works with more casual outfits (like a striped tee and chore coat). The lack of crease also adds to that vibe.
I brought this vintage smock for use in the elements, as Japan is known for intermittent rain. Like the jungle jacket, it features deep breast pockets, which again, was incredibly useful. This piece, picked by my friend Doug for me, has rapidly become one of my favorite outerwear pieces. You may have already seen it on my instagram before.
Let me just say that striped tees are life and are a great piece to get a variety of in your wardrobe. I used to hate tees because they were too plain and uninteresting, but the stripe really makes all the difference, and play well with outer-layer pieces. Depending on how you wear it, you can lean into the vintage vibe or do something contemporary.
This was my outfit for one of my solo shopping days and for meeting Ethan Newton. I decided to dress it up a bit, by wearing one of my checked sport shirts under my jungle jacket. Instead of denim, I went with these 1940’s hollywood waist, side-tab white twill chinos. They’re a bit stained and worn, but I like that appeal; these will not be worn with suits. It’s nice to have a white trouser that I wouldn’t mind getting dirty and mucked around.
It’s a simple change from the outfit above it, but I threw on the Uniqlo cotton-linen unstructured sportcoat for my dad’s birthday dinner. I didn’t want to bring my Spier & Mackay hopsack incase it got lost or damaged, so hence why I copped this one. It’s pretty decent with moderate lapels and patch pockets, though it does only have two buttons. I sized up to a medium and got it tailored, because the small was just too short.
It’s a good beater jacket (the summer version of the tweed one) and a few of my friends already own one. I think it looks great wth the OCBD, knit tie, and cut-off chinos!
I rocked the jacket again for a visit to the Senso-ji temple (and meeting Tailor CAID), wearing it over a chambray workshirt and the side tab white trousers from earlier. The result looks like some 1930’s sportswear with some workwear-ish elements thrown in. Like with the checked one before it, I severely unbuttoned the shirt in order to deal with the heat. I even did the runaway collar!
Disneyland outfits are a bit interesting, because this was one of the few times I’ve been to the Parks without it being Dapper Day. I just treated it like a regular Japan day, in jeans sneakers, a tee, and some form of jacket. Comfortable enough to trek around and take in the amazing Disney experience (which blows Anaheim out of the water).
This last outfit is what I wore to visit Ginza for the last time and what I wore on the plane. It leans hard into that Ivy-dad look that is worn by the Drake’s boys after hours. I’ve always wanted to do a look like this, but it’s not work appropriate; weekends I tend to dress even more casually. So naturally Japan was the best place to debut it!
Its incredibly comfortable and supremely slouchy, which is just my vibe. I really love how the sneakers interact with the slight crop of the chino, but the icing on the cake has to be the VAN Jacket cap. Worth every penny.
If you couldn’t see it by now, Japan has incredible style, from the Disney attendees to the menswear icons. I really did feel like I was walking around the style capital of the world. Sure, it may be fairly recent that the world is noticing their tailoring and artisanal menswear prowess, but it feels so natural. That’s a big thing, since I feel like in most cases, the best dressed people either work in the industry or try too hard; in Japan, its just regular people who happen to be stylish. LA needs to step their game up!
Above all else, I’m extremely thankful to have had the opportunity meet as many people as I did. It’s the magic of social media, connecting all of us nerds, interested in such a niche part of menswear. The best part is that this wasn’t networking; it was a bunch of legitimately friendly interactions meant to make this world a bit smaller. I’m just happy that I was to snap a few pictures of each person to share with all of you. It also helps that they, like the other menswear people I know, are naturally photogenic.
This trip was literally one of the best experiences of my life and I thank you for reading these overly long recaps of it. Even if you don’t read my ramblings, perhaps you at leeast enjoy the pretty pictures. I honestly never thought that I’d get to meet all these people on a family vacation, look around their store, and snap a portrait of them, but yet here we are. It just shows that each trip I take gets better and better. Who knows where the next one will take me and what stylish people await to get their own “Ethan picture”!
Always a pleasure,
Enjoyed the article but wanted to let you know that some of the photos at the beginning are considered “portrait rights” violations in Japan. It’s not legal to take photos of specific people and publish them without their consent. You might consider blurring faces in the photos you didn’t get permission to take.
Good call! thanks for the info, I’ve blurred as much as I could.