Visiting Bryceland’s was an incredible experience because it allowed me not only to see the store which has inspired me so much in recent years, but also because of the opportunity to meet one of my style icons.
I can only hope that I acted as chill as I thought I was being.
This is about my experience with and opinions about Ethan Newton and his brand. If you want more of a biographical piece, listen to his interview on Blamo!, this piece by The Rake, or this by Japan Times.
Introduction and EthanDesu
The amount of respect and reverence I have for Mr. Ethan Newton (ethandesu) should be to no one’s surprise. I remember finding pictures of him while scrolling through Tumblr during college and being hooked immediately. It wasn’t just the fact that he was wearing exquisitely tailored suits; it was the quality of his photography and the brief sentences (or paragraphs) that he included about them on his tumblr. There was clearly something different about Newton’s holistic/lifestyle approach to menswear, something that stood apart from the influencers and models that took up my instagram feed such a long time ago. There’s a reason why he was cited as one of my primary inspirations in both style and photography.
Still is, if you follow me and pay even the slightest bit of attention.
To me, Newton represented what I wanted out of menswear; the right stuff. At the time it was all contemporary tailoring, but I could tell that he had an eye to the past. As a bigger guy, he was thoughtful in his choices, and yet the style never felt restrained in a large sense.
He has an internal pursuit of fashion as it applied to him, not chasing the latest thing for the sake of trends. Newton is full of knowledge, from contemporary tailoring to vintage, but in a humble way, if not a bit quiet. Reserved would be the right adjective. Newton, like a lot of my other inspirations, appeared cool and completely natural in the clothing, not trying to sell us on any high-society life style. Being able to wear good clothing and help sell it seemed to be a great life.
After his tenure at the Armoury, I could see that some things changed. His style, at least from what he posted, evolved slightly, moving away from being too cleanly tailored. He worked at Ralph Lauren for a bit then moved to Japan.
He has since purged his “following feed”, but I considered it to be a huge compliment when he followed me back on IG a few years ago. This was during the time I worked at Banana Republic to put myself through grad school, so I didn’t have the “clout” I have now (I do occasionally wonder if people follow me because of the industry or because they genuinely like my content). I was still posting mirror selfies and the occasional DSLR pic of my less defined style, so it was a bit of a big deal.
However, all these years later, (even getting to talk to his current business parter), I was still hesitant to contact Newton outside of a few story replies and comments. As my Japan trip grew nearer, I actually made a point to message him and tell him I wanted to come and chat; naturally, he agreed! And that brings us to Bryceland’s, which is perhaps a culmination of everything Newton has done before.
Even though a majority of the content I had seen was Newton at The Armoury Hong Kong (which he helped start), in reality, he was actually long gone, having since moved on to other projects. In the end, he started Bryceland’s with Kenji Cheung, a new store that was bound to shake things in the world of menswear.
I say that because it was unlike something I had seen before. Simon Crompton has written about the rise of the “independent menswear atelier”, but they all tend to have the same vibe and products: working with Orazio, RTW by Ring Jacket, Drake’s ties, Alden shoes, and so on. It was basically copies of the Armoury, which isn’t a bad thing, but at this point of my style, I wanted something a bit new.
Like me today, Kenji and Ethan were definitely interested in vintage-inspired, workwear/milsurp garments, but they aren’t interested in doing a complete look. By that I mean, they aren’t just about engineer boots + wide leg denim for a complete rockabilly look or full Italian suit + spread collar attire. They mix and match as needed, combining all these elements of workwear, milsurp, Italian tailoring, ivy, and so forth to create their own outfits. It still leans heavily vintage when compared to Drake’s or the Armoury, but to me, it was totally different than my period-authentic past.
They certainly have a very unique look and approach to style and I was intrigued and excited. It was as if someone had my ideas about vintage and contemporary clothing and actually did something about it.
That entire vibe is what Kenji and Ethan created in Bryceland’s, with their first shop in Japan and with their second location in Hong Kong. If you can’t tell, the brand/store was a mix between workwear, vintage, and contemporary-classic tailoring; the former two was perhaps what made it so special. I find that a lot of menswear stores tend to lean away from “old” styles, but it’s presented here at Bryceland’s in a wearable and cool way. They’ve created a vibe/look that has reached the lexicon in classic menswear circles. Suddenly Bryceland’s was a way to refer to menswear inspired by the past but without the LARP or cosplay connotations.
Their popularity is clearly present not only in their instagram following but how many different photographers have captured their images, like the talented Robert Spangle, Jamie Ferguson, and Milad Abedi.
In other words, I completely stan Bryceland’s. It’s just so fucking cool. The store, Kenji, and especially Ethan have been a constant source of inspiration for me, showing me that my love for vintage still has a place in this world; it just takes some skill and creativity to do it without being too LARP-y. Stuff like Gurkha shorts, wide legged denim, berets, or incorporating sportshirts into daily attire was mainly thanks to them. I was finally confident in myself and my style, a point I wanted to reiterate to Ethan if I would ever meet him.
You can see this for yourself in their products (and photography), displayed proudly across their social media accounts. As a man who lives in LA and is far removed from the greater world of menswear, that was the only way I could experience the brand. Overall, Bryceland’s works in an exclusive way, only offering things that are available through them, rather than simply retailing things from manufacturers. All the products are completely different to what I’ve seen before, each harkening back to the past but yet displayed/worn in a way that has a place in the modern world without resorting to costume.
A big part of the Bryceland’s magic is that they work with some of the best artisans that I’ve mainly only heard of and never seen (bar the Trunkshow at Wellema last year). As a result, you can’t really find most of the stuff they sell from other people, as they are almost all exclusives. Their shirts are all custom made by Ascot Chang, designed painstakingly by Ethan, from the collar style down to the intricate shoulder pleats and intense gathering to the sleeve cuff. The ties they sell are done by Kenji Kaga of SevenFold, which inherently have a vintage feel and design, as noted by Simon Crompton. Hats, as you might have already known, are done by my friend Cody Wellema, done in an exclusive Bryceland’s style.
Their bespoke suiting is also an exclusive style made by Satoria Dalcuore, featuring a low gorge and soft, but heavily extended shoulder (almost to the point of drooping off the bone). Like me, they prefer a high-rise, straight trouser, which is still available through most of their offerings, like Dalcuore RTW or their Ambrosi (which is a bit slimmer). They also do MTM in a house style through W.W Chan in Hong Kong.
While they definitely have official collaborations with some of the world’s best makers, they have also worked to create things under their house label. Things like their selvedge denim, a plaid hunting coat, rayon sportshirts and scarves, military chinos and their gurkha shorts. These and the aforementioned pieces have very little to no branding, with things like their Ascot Chang shirtings lacking any label whatsoever. This is all because of Ethan Newton’s anti-consumerism of sorts; he dislikes excessive branding and wants people to buy things based on the merit of the product, not because of the name. As a result, you don’t know which is a collaboration or something that they worked on themselves. It’s all Bryceland’s.
Obviously you can tell that Bryceland’s is one of my favorite brands of all time, taking a special place in my heart not only because of its vintage-contemporary flavor, but because of it’s approach. They do limited stock and never do sales, which really results in an aspirational vibe for my friend and I. The Wellema trunk show was my first real introduction to the brand, but I’ve always wanted a chance to go there and get the full, in-store experience that I’ve had with other grail-stores in my past. Getting to meet Ethan Newton would be icing on the cake.
Luckily my Japan trip was able to make both of those things happen.
The Bryceland’s Store in Japan
Up a street in the Harajuku district of Tokyo and surrounded by vintage stores (and a curious skate shop-meets-acupucture atelier) lies the original Bryceland’s Co. It’s definitely smaller than I expected, but that’s probably a good thing; their approach is more subtle (or humble) that some of the other big names in menswear. It reminds me a bit of Cody’s shop in sleepy Altadena: copious amounts of natural light, wooden floors, and vintage furnishings. The only thing that caught me off guard was the electronic sliding door.
Everything was beautifully displayed on the wooden furniture and metal racks. Typically, I’m used to this type of decorating in vintage shops, packed to the brim with milsurp, leather jackets, old suits, and so on. It’s definitely a contrast to see similar items, just made fresh to the highest quality. What a damn cool shop.
Yamada, the shopkeeper, greeted me when I walked in that severely hot day (Ethan Newton would later say it was “hot as balls”). He told me that Ethan was expecting me, but was still out getting a burger, so I took the time to take a few pictures and take in the environment of the store. I hope that what I’ve included here gets the Bryceland’s vibe (and product offering) across.
Also I had to use the restroom and ran into Yusuche Ono (Anglofilo) working in the back room. Quite a funny interaction.
Just want to first point out the Terry Cloth (towel) shirts. They’re the newest thing from Bryceland’s and Ascot Chang. The shirt is actually very light, which is a good thing as I’ve found that vintage ones are thick and heavy. Ethan later told me that he found the deadstock voile books that were much too light to be turned into anything substantial, so reinforcement via terry cloth was a no-brainer. The result is something that can actually be worn out, rather than just to lounge at the pool or beach.
While they’ve been huge proponents of bringing back the rayon sportshirt, as evident in how they used to carry Groovin’ High and have since started making their own, their latest endeavor is the linen cabana shirt. Unlike the traditional ones that you normally see (like guayaberas, with the pleats and lines connecting the pockets), this one is plain in design, featuring only three pockets. It functions like a chorecoat or overshirt of sorts (though meant to be worn on its own), with a wide loop collar.
While the DB wasn’t in my size, I was lucky enough to be able to try on their SB Dalcuore RTW model in a grey flannel. It was pretty much perfect and as Ethan would later say, “I’m an easy fit”. Like I said previously, their exclusive house model features a slightly lower gorge, a bit of a blunted notch, a 3-roll-2 closure, and an extended shoulder. The latter is best expressed as bespoke, if you can’t tell by all those pictures above of Newton in those suits.
My one complaint is that the sleeves were pretty slim, which might be due to the fact that I tend to wear vintage (which has wide sleeves).
In fact, the jacket looks very close to my custom Ascot Chang suit, but more on that later.
The trousers fit nice and high and feature belt loops. They are slightly slimmer than I’d like (I wear my trousers between 8″-9″), but they fit right in with my more tapered trousers, like my Polo RL flannels or my J. Crew pleated chinos. Honestly, if they had this suit in a summer fabric, I would have bought it immediately. Just kidding, all my money was already gone thanks to this trip.
Can’t express how fun it was getting to chat with Yamada. Only a few years older than me, it was clear to see how much excitement he has for Bryceland’s and menswear as a whole. If I can remember correctly, he studied law and then worked for a luggage company, but now he’s here with Ethan Newton at one of the coolest shops in the industry.
His outfit is very much right up Bryceland’s alley, with that telltale mix of tailoring and vintage/workwear. There’s a double denim combo up top, with their own Type-1 jacket and sawtooth westerner, with some heavy contrast with a light blue silk knit. Normally I’m not the biggest fan of vibrant, solid ties, but I love it here on Yamada; makes the whole thing fun!
The trousers are Ambrosi chinos, which may just be the most perfect pair I’ve ever seen. The rise is high and the leg is tapered, but only slightly. Makes them a good choice for loafers or vintage converse, which I’m sure Yamada does.
Ethan waltzed in shortly after my restroom break and photosnapping opportunity. Just as I suspected, he was a bit reserved but still exuded an aura of “coolness”. You can call it sprezzatura if you like. This ease and quiet confidence is probably the only forms of “advertising” he uses. Ethan tells me that he (and I) wear old man clothes; it’s our job to make it look cool enough for others to buy. I definitely agree.
Similar to Spencer’s journey from Menswear House to J. Crew, Ethan Newton now has a different customer and lifestyle to pursue. He still loves his bespoke suits, but at this point in his life, he doesn’t have to wear them everyday. That’s probably the main reason why we’ve seen so much “new flavor” come from Bryceland’s that echoes vintage casual wear and workwear. It’s also a contrast to the sartorial polo, which can look a bit too clean and proper to me. Sometimes you just want to look slouchy. It’s infiniteliy easier to wear, being casual and comfortable, yet sharper and more interesting than athleisure.
I’m inclined to agree with him, as he looks damn good (and comfy) in a rather plain ensemble. While I was wearing a jungle jacket, plaid sportshirt, and white chinos, he combats the Tokyo heat in a simple ensemble: with his linen cabana shirt and a pair of bespoke Ambrosi trousers. The silverbelly fedora is a no brainer, but the accent I love is the cream rayon scarf. It’s the perfect addition that seems useless, which might be a part of the charm. It’s not there to be “fancy” as you might think; perhaps Ethan uses it like a towel for sweat. Its just thrown on and forgotten, which makes it very cool.
Interestingly enough, he made similar suggestions to a customer who was interested in the linen cabana shirt. “The scarf accents the outfit,” I heard Ethan say (translated by Yamada who was watching with me).
One of the first things I told Ethan was a reiteration of how much his photography inspired me. Shortly after my photography piece came out, he messaged me saying that he appreciates my sentiments and that he may start shooting yet again. It seems that he’s picked up the habit thank to a new purchase of Leica, replacing the old one which was stolen sometime ago.
He tells me that he prefers these over DSLRs, which can be too complicated. Newton likes to look through the camera and snap exactly what he’s seeing. I don’t think I’m going to be getting a Leica anytime soon, but perhaps a move to Sony or Fujifilm mirrorless will be in the near future.
After conversing about tinder dates and burgers in Tokyo, he asks if I want to go outside and take some pictures before the sun sets. I try to contain my excitement while he takes one of me. I respond in kind, to the best of my ability.
Before he left for dinner with his brother, we talk a bit more about his approach to business. He isn’t in this for the money, but he believes that he has fair prices for the beautiful products he stocks. Again, they never do sales and only make what they know they can sell, as he doesn’t want to cheapen the brand, in a sense. He also values hardwork (as he has had a variety of jobs in the industry and has been in it since he was 18) and bemoans the kids who think they can be a creative director right away. And again, he reiterates how he knows we all wear old man clothes. Making it cool and wearable for others to see is one of our biggest jobs.
I mentioned that every Pitti, my friends and I look forward to their outfits, as it often creates new insights or (at the very least) some great inspiration for our personal style. I asked him how he creates his outfits and he says he just looks into his closet and packs in whatever he feels like wearing to Florence; he does change his mind a few times. Newton makes a point to say that he prefers to look at the classics (like Jimmy Stewart) rather than his contemporaries for inspiration. I’m either not there yet or I just happen to like everything I see!
Though the industry and personal style were a big part of our conversation, there was time for fun and games. In an interesting move, Newton tells me that he loves playing Read Dead Redemption 2, making me wonder what his outfits were (as there is quite a bit of customization in the game). There was also a funny moment where I attempted to explain Magic: The Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh, and anime to Ethan and his brother. I have a small feeling they were just joshing with me.
He even closed out the evening by playing some Nirvana (or was it the Peppers?) on the guitar. When I asked how long he’s played the guitar, he tells me that he’s never played it; at most he “messes around”. To me there is no difference, as it sounded amazing. Newton was always a fan of rock and metal; a contrast to the “cycling and jazz enthusiasts”.
If you can’t tell by this affectionately long blog post, visiting Bryceland’s and speaking with Ethan Newton for a few hours was an amazingly important experience for me. Obviously I had seen the products at Wellema, but nothing compares to the seeing the pieces in their natural habitat.
Like I said earlier, Bryceland’s started at a great time in my menswear journey; they actually put some of my thoughts about fashion into practice, which led to further development of my personal style. I don’t strictly lift the Bryceland’s aesthetic (I’m still not keen on denim jackets), but it informs my choices from time to time. It feels easy to me, a definitely natural extension of my vintage roots and love of classic menswear. It’s not edgy but a bit subversive from the norm.
I hope that I wasn’t overly excited when I was meeting Ethan Newton (or that it didn’t show in an obvious manner). I’ve been told that I get too excited in the menswear world and have been trying to keep that in check as I met more people and my career progresses. I made sure to tell Ethan that his style and journey has influenced mine greatly and that I share a lot of his views about business, preferring to share story and artistry rather than advertising and promotions.
I’ll close with one of my favorite moments with Ethan. I ask Newton how he feels about his status as an icon/source of inspiration for many menswear enthusiasts and whether he knew it was going to happen. Newton isn’t surprised, as it was bound to happen, not because of Instagram clout but because of the many years of experience he’s had in the industry. He implies that it’s generational, as he experienced a similar sentiment when he was first getting started years ago, moving to Japan, working at Evisu, and getting to meet his own inspirations and icons.
Maybe at some point, it’ll be my turn. And I can only hope that at whatever time that is, I’ll have an ounce of the reverence, gravitas, and knowledge that Ethan Newton has.
Always a pleasure,
Street x Sprezza