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Having recently returned from my third visit to Tokyo, I felt it would be good to add the new stores I went to and can recommend to this list. 

It’s a great city for shopping, particularly in the little quiet streets behind Harajuku and Ometasando. Many of these places are tucked away in there. 

Below is the original post from 2017, but with 12 new shops added at the top of the list, above the 15 originally included. 

Original introduction: 

Tokyo is arguably the most varied, creative and stimulating retail experience in the world.

Not only is the city huge, but each area has a distinct feel and atmosphere, reflected in its shopping.

There are small, niche brands everywhere, as well as workshops and artisans. Many of those are unique to Japan, but even the designer brands up their game – often with striking stores and developments.

There are simply too many to list here, but these 15 should provide a good starting point for the sartorial shopper. And as with previous guides, we have focused on stores that are pretty much exclusive to Tokyo.

I recommend looking up the various stores on the map and grouping them into areas: the size of Tokyo means it could take a while to get from one area to another.

And once in an area, whether glitzy Ginza or funky Daikanyama, take the time to wander around and see what else pops out. You might wander into Tsutaya books, for example, and end up whiling away most of the afternoon.

It’s also worth saying that unlike London, most bespoke artisans are in small studios on the first or upper floors of buildings. They don’t have a storefront, as they usually don’t offer ready-to-wear, and you should try to make an appointment in advance.

New 12 stores, 2019:

1 Anatomica

anatomica.jp

Anatomica is one of the most remote stores listed in this guide, being a few stops north of the centre, tucked down the side of a canal. 

I think it’s worth the visit though. The combination of French and Japanese creative directors means the clothes are a fascinating mix of cultures and styles, with berets and traditional Japanese handkerchiefs alongside original workwear designs. 

Although the shop carries Drake’s and John Smedley, 80% of the designs are original and Anatomica branded – including long linen work coats, short collarless ones with cloth-covered buttons, and T-shirts with double-thickness panels across the chest, inspired by French military shirts. 

There is also a branch in Paris, so worth visiting that one if you travel to France more often. If not, do visit the Tokyo store.

2 Harajuku vintage: Fake Alpha, Berbejin, Vostok

webstore.berberjin.com

Japan has a justified reputation for being great for vintage clothes. Over the years, Japanese buyers have obsessively bought up American vintage in particular, and in their stores they rigorously categorise and list every era and design variation.

There are three stores in close proximity behind Harajuku in Tokyo, which are part of the same group: Fake Alpha, Berbejin and Vostok. There is also a grouping in Nakano City (including Jack Road vintage watches) that’s a little further out.

All three shops are quite small, and the range might seem a little disappointing at first glance. But put together, the range is good.

Fake Alpha does more of the high-end denim and workwear, Berbejin carries this and more sportswear (premium pieces are downstairs) and Vostok has cheaper things, including band T-shirts.

Beware though, nothing is cheap. Vintage 501s (all labelled by their precise model type) range from £300 to £3000 for the very rarest.

3 Vintage eyewear: Solakzade, Gig Lamps

www.solakzade.com

www.gig-lamps.com

Not far away from these, out on the commercial shopping strip of Ometasando, is vintage jewellery and glasses specialist Solakzade.

The shop is not immediately obvious – it’s on the basement floor down a small flight of steps – and is a stone-and-gold cavern inside.

Run by Tatsuya and his brother, the range is eclectic, everything from the nineteenth century to the 1970s. But everyone there knows the stock inside out, and it’s worth talking to them about styles if you have even just a passing interest in old frames.

Upstairs is men’s jewellery, but this can also be discussed and accessed downstairs. Also worth a look is Gig Lamps Eyewear, in Meguru City – a few metro stops away.

4 Workwear: Time Worn Clothing, The Flat Head, Full Count

www.fullcount-online.com

www.flat-head.com

Tokyo has full stores for many of the Japanese workwear brands that are obsessively followed in the US and Europe, such as Full Count and The Flat Head.

They have many things in common, with the range focusing on denim, leather and vintage-style sportswear. But just as with sartorial clothing, each has its own, subtle character, and products that are particularly sought out.

Full Count, for example, is particularly known for its jeans, being one of the famous Osaka 5 that pioneered Japanese denim in the 1990s. The Flat Head is more motorbike-orientated, and I personally buy their slim-fit circular-knitted T-shirts and brushed flannel shirts.

Time Worn Clothing is less well known and not always the friendliest to non-workwear obsessives, but has a big following for its At Last denim brand and Butcher sportswear.

5 Sharon

Yoshihito Kinoshita runs this Italian tailoring shop in Aoyama, and is interesting for being one of the few offering the style as a small store in Tokyo – a city dominated by the bigger department stores.

Kinoshita wears a lot of La Vera Sartoria Napoletana, but sells under his own brand, and hosts the occasional trunk show from the likes of Sartoria Solito.

6 Nakata Hangers

www.nakatahanger.com/english

It won’t surprise most readers to learn that there is a Japanese brand taking hangers to a particularly high level. Here it is Nakata Hangers, a 70-year-old family business that supplies many of the country’s brands and department stores, but in recent years has also focused on selling particularly high-end pieces to end consumers.

The stand-out pieces are those made of a single piece of wood (unlike the vast majority, which have a seam in the middle). And the top end involve lacquer work and hand painting.

The shop in Minato City is more set up for wholesale than retail, but if you want beautiful, unique hangers for your bespoke tailoring, it’s worth a visit to see the products in person.

7 Sarto

sarto.jp

Sarto is an interesting business. Essentially an alterations tailor, it has grown to the point of having several branches, altering and repairing everything from suits to leather jackets, trunk shows with the likes of B&Tailor and Craftsman Clothing, and even its own in-house shoemaker.

The workshop is next door to the first-floor shop, and the best tailors as well as brands send their pieces there to be repaired.

It’s not a retail destination, but if you need anything repaired or altered, it’s certainly the first place everyone would recommend.

Original 2017 list:

8 Isetan

isetan.mistore.jp

Department stores in Japan do things very well, from the brand mix to the merchandising. But the thing that will set them apart for most readers is the presence of bespoke and made-to-measure clothing, from all around the world.

Isetan is worth seeing for the pure department-store experience, but also make sure to visit the made-to-measure area (above), and look out for any trunk shows going on at the time. Oh, and there’s a whole building just for menswear.

9 Strasburgo

strasburgo.co.jp

Strasburgo takes this a step further. With a more select range, and slightly more sartorial approach than the other department stores, it has several branches around the city.

I recommend the Minami Aoyama branch, for both the RTW selection and the Tailor’s Lab (above) that was established here on the third floor a couple of years ago. There you will find a workshop housing artisans such as shirtmaker Masanori Yamagami and tailor Noriyuki Higashi (Sartoria Domenica). Trouser-maker Igarashi also started out here.

10 Beams F and International Gallery Beams

www.beams.co.jp

Beams is also a smaller, more curated store (or rather, series of stores) and is worth visiting for both the taste level and the comprehensiveness of great American and European brands.

It never fails to depress me how many great Italian brands, for example, don’t get stockists in London. New York is better, but Tokyo is the best. Both stores mentioned here are worth a visit: Beams F for more sartorial European brands, and International Gallery for more casual and designer clothing.

11 Tomorrowland

www.tomorrowland.jp

Compared to the stores above, Tomorrowland is more fashion-focused, but the men’s side tends to be fairly classic and have some interesting variants on menswear staples.

It carries its own brand as well as range of others, including Acne Studios, Dries Van Noten and James Perse. It also opened a branch in New York’s Soho a couple of years ago, so is no longer exclusive to Japan.


12 Bryceland’s Co

www.brycelandsco.com

Bryceland’s Co is a niche menswear store opened in 2016 by Ethan Newton, one of the founders of cult menswear store The Armoury in Hong Kong. It mixes soft Italian tailoring with American workwear, with a good deal of vintage pieces to purchase as well.

Ethan has a very particular outlook on both design and fit, with jackets tending to be large in the sleeve and chest to give a classic, masculine look. Also worth highlighting are the Saint Crispin’s shoes and Ambrosi trousers. Tailor Anglofilo works out of the back.

More on Brycelands here

13 Bespoke shoemakers: Yohei Fukuda, Marquess and others

yoheifukuda.tumblr.com

marquess-bespoke.blogspot.jp 

Japan has a huge number of bespoke shoemakers, perhaps more than the whole of Europe combined. They are largely young, working in small workshops, and good value for money – though the small size can mean there are long waiting times. Most importantly, their quality is amazing, often excelling those European masters they learnt from.

There are too many to try and recommend any specifically, but it is certainly worth trying to see Yohei Fukuda (above) and Shoji Kawaguchi, the latter operating under the brand Marquess.

More on Japanese shoemakers here.

14 Sartoria Ciccio

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Musella-Dembech is a tiny tailor. They’re still based in the family home, even though recently they’ve expanded to make the whole appartment a working sartoria.

Their reputation, however, is rather larger. That’s down largely to the father’s background (Francesco Musella, who worked at influential tailors Mario Donnini and then Augusto Caraceni) and the skill and style of the son, Gianfrancesco.

(More on that background in previous posts here.)

Stylistically, the result is a cut with the strong lines and lapels of the Northern Italian tailors (such as Caraceni, who we covered in this series previously) but the soft structure and shoulders of the South (such as Solito, for example).

House: Musella Dembech

Address: Via Celestino IV 9, Milan

Site: www.muselladembechmilano.com

Cutter: Gianfrancesco Musella

Price (at time of writing): €6500 (incl VAT, price higher because of extra finishing around unlined body and sleeves)

Suit starting price: €5700 (incl VAT)

Gianfrancesco cut this suit for me in 2017, and it has become one of my favourites. Indeed, it was the basis for naming Musella-Dembech the Artisan of the Year in 2018.

Part of the reason is the navy cotton, which I really enjoy wearing in the summer.

Cotton like this does not hold a crease, and wrinkles much less elegantly than linen. But it is very comfortable, and pleasingly soft and casual in appearance.

The bigger reason, though, has to be the style. The shoulders are soft and natural, yet the lapels have real impact. It looks laid back, yet sharp.

I can’t think of another piece of tailoring I have that combines those elements so well.

Let’s break down that lapel, given how much it dominates the style of a double-breasted suit like this.

First of all, it’s wide. At the peak it is 4½ inches across. Compare that to the other double-breasted we’ve covered in this series, from Henry Poole, which was 3⅞.  

Second, it’s long. Its buttoning point is 19½ inches from the shoulder seam, which is slightly long anyway, but more so proportionately, given the relatively short length of the jacket (30¾ inches in the back seam).

Third, the gorge (where the lapel and collar meet) is high: just three inches from the shoulder. This makes it even longer, extending it at the top end. The peak is saved from flying off the shoulder (and looking silly as a result) by being quite flat.

Last, it is curved. It has what the English tailors call both ‘round’ and ‘belly’: both curving outwards from the waist button and continuing to do so through its middle. (Again, the Poole lapel looks even slimmer because it is relatively straight.)

I should say that the lightweight structure also means that the lapel can be buttoned fairly satisfactorily to the bottom row of buttons, rather than the middle.

This always means some kind of sacrifice to the fit, but it is slight.

And that lower buttoning (sometimes called ‘Kent buttoning’ after the British Duke of Kent) makes the lapel still more dramatic still – though perhaps too stylised for some.

I find it interesting myself looking at some of these straight, profile shots of the jacket, because they don’t necessarily match up to how it feels.

For example, the jacket has a very straight back, as you can see in the side-on shot above. There is no shaping at all to try and follow the shape of my lower back – it’s pretty much straight from top to bottom.

Gianfrancesco did this deliberately to allow more movement and comfort (an issue with cotton, as it doesn’t have the natural stretch of wool) but it’s not something I notice, I guess because one rarely sees oneself from this angle.

The jacket is also a little shorter than I realised. You can clearly see the fork of the trouser below it, at front and back.

In fact, with that shortness, straight back, and the straight bottom that comes from being a double-breasted, the jacket could be said to look rather square and boxy.

I think this is slightly misleading, and perhaps is an issue of presenting these suits largely in such unnatural poses.

For I would never stand like this normally, but would have at least one hand in a pocket, or be leaning, or have my arms in some other position.

The shape of the bottom half of the jacket would be frequently distorted, as a result – and I think this is why I have generally judged the suit’s style based so much on the shoulder and lapel line.

Those things generally have greater impact, of course, being closer to the face; but I think they do so even more in how a suit is used and worn every day, than images like this suggest.

Such poses make analysis easier, but are not always realistic.

The suit is worn with a Dartmoor polo-collar sweater, done up to the neck in a style that I think is elegant for smarter occasions, but not day to day. (And unfortunately, is now permanently associated with British football pundits.)

Navy-on-navy is of course a rather formal combination given its darkness and simplicity, and this is increased by the grey linen handkerchief with white border (from Anderson & Sheppard).

The shoes are my much-loved Oundle monk-straps from Edward Green, in their Top Drawer make. They call the colour bronze, though it has rather darkened over the years with polishing.

Style breakdown:

  • Shoulder width: 6 inches
  • Shoulder padding: Thin, single-ply pad
  • Sleevehead: Natural, spalla camicia ripples
  • Sleeve: Slim, not much tapering
  • Cuff width: 10½ inches
  • Lapel: 4½ inches
  • Gorge height: 3 inches
  • Drape: None
  • Outbreast pocket height: 10⅜ inches
  • Buttoning point: 19½ inches
  • Waist suppression: Small
  • Quarters: N/A, double breasted
  • Length: 30¾ inches
  • Back seam: Straight
  • Vent height: 9 inches
  • Trouser circumference at knee: 19¾ inches
  • Trouser circumference at cuff: 15¼ inches

Photography: Jamie Ferguson

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The aim of a shirt bought for summer might seem easy: to stay cool. But there are several variations here, and crossovers with styles and other functionality.

This, then, is our substantive yet focused guide to buying a shirt fabric for the warmer months.

As ever, it is not aimed at recommending specific cloths, because the mills don’t vary that much in the things discussed here – fibres, weaves and finishes.

Rather, it should enable you to know whether you want a linen, a muslin or a zephyr, and why. Then you can pick what weight and colour you want.

Indigo linen

So, how do you make a cool shirting fabric? Well generally you want it to be breathable – that’s the priority, rather than being lightweight.

Superfine fabrics, for example, are often lightweight. But they are also densely woven, which makes them not very breathable and so not great in warm weather. (See our Superfines article here.)

That breathability will come from three things: the fibre, the yarn or the weave.

Linen shirt and safari shirt

First, the fibre. Most shirtings are cotton, and this is pretty breathable and cool – certainly more than fibres like wools, cashmere or synthetics.

However, linen is better. Linen is such a strong fibre that it can be woven quite loosely, making it breathable. It is also cool to the touch, because the fibre is a good conductor. (Metal feels cool for the same reason.)

Linen wrinkles of course. For some, that’s part of the charm, but it might also make it too casual for smarter shirts.

In that situation it’s worth turning to linen/cotton mixes, which balance the sharpness of cotton and the breathability of linen.

In fact, I’d recommend linen/cotton through most of the year, because it has that breathability (but not too much) and because it looks more casual than cotton (but not too much).

And while you do often need a cooler shirt in the summer, in the winter it’s easy to just wear knitwear or heavier tailoring over the top.

Linen/cotton shirt under a cotton jacket

Next, the weave. In general here you want a more open, less dense weave.

So in a basic cotton, a plain weave (or broadcloth) is more open than a twill, and will breathe better.

Then there are more specialist warm-weather weaves, such as zephyr. Zephyr has a square weave construction, with an almost equal number of threads per inch in warp and weft, which makes it very breathable.

Specialist cotton yarns can also make a difference. So voile, for example, uses a high-twist yarn. This gives the yarn extra strength (like linen) and enables it to be woven more openly.

Muslin, on the other hand, uses a normal yarn but a very lightweight one. This makes it softer, but also quite liable to wrinkle, and therefore not as smart. Both voile and muslin are more commonly used in women’s clothing.

Muslin

The biggest problem with some of these cotton weaves and yarns is that they can become sheer, and transparent. Not good for a formal shirt, for those with a lot of dark body hair, or perhaps from a style point of view.

The best way to mitigate this is to only use them in darker colours. This is the same for lightweight pique cottons used for polo shirts, and some jerseys (though jersey isn’t usually that breathable – it’s more used for stretch and comfort).

However, dark shirts are also quite limiting in terms of style, which is a big reason linen and linen/cotton continue to be so popular.

Pique cotton

Two other options to throw in are seersucker, and chambray.

Seersucker is more usually seen in tailoring, but its waffley weave does make it light and breathable. The only disadvantage is style: not everyone wants a bubbly-looking shirt.

Chambray, meanwhile, isn’t necessarily light and breathable, but it can be, and it’s a good summer alternative for those that wear a lot of denim the rest of the year.

Chambray

Finally, finishing on shirts can help in hot weather, either in terms of reflecting UV rays or in ‘thermoregulation’.

Both are treatments that are done on the cottons – and something we covered more extensively  in our article on performance fabrics. Linens are also available with anti-wrinkle treatments.

These options should not be simply dismissed, as they have greatly increased in quality over the years and often now have the same feel and breathability as regular cottons.

But still, personally I’d use fibre or weave to remain cool, unless you particularly dislike wrinkling (an issue with anything that has any linen in it) and any suggestion of transparency.

Linens

Treatments can also help deal with odour, but these suggested linens and cottons are so breathable that odour isn’t usually more of a problem in the summer than the winter.

A bigger issue is longevity: being lighter and more open, a lot of these fabrics are more delicate.

But again, that’s an area where linen comes into its own. Being such a strong fibre, it should last better than almost any cotton, and doesn’t pill.

Linen also takes colour well, particularly natural and earthy colours – which can be an aim with summer shirts.

Cotton/linen mixes

Overall, I’d say cotton/linen is the best general option for a versatile summer shirt, but it’s worth having some shirts in other fibres for particular situations.

Linen is beautiful when freshly ironed, and perhaps best for holiday and other casual occasions. A weave like Giro Inglese is amazingly lightweight and suited to those that really suffer from the heat, or humidity. And zephyr can be both breathable and unusual.

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