My friend Mae is a great graphic designer--creative and precise. When Mae talks about growing up with her twin sister, you can almost see flames of rage glowing behind her pupils. Comparisons between them were constant and brutal. Aunts and cousins would fuss over her sister's perfect hair, her photogenic smile, her glow, then turn and tell Mae "You must be the smart one!" As the twig is bent, so shall the tree grow—Mae's diligence has made her the smart one if she wasn't already, and she credits her subsequent success in part to the power of sibling rivalry.
One hopes Daiki and Takuji Suzuki, brothers and designers of Engineered Garments and ts(s), had happier childhoods than Mae. But then Engineered Garments and ts(s) are each one both smart and pretty; so why play favorites?
The Suzukis share a life-long obsession with clothing, fabric, and pattern, that has inspired collections of clothing with common traits but distinct personalities.
Prior to opening Engineered Garments, Daiki worked in retail and as a buyer; with a degree in clothing design, Takuji worked as a stylist and magazine editor. Where Daiki's line seems more interpretive, slung from the bones of traditional menswear, Takuji's clothing is less scrutable, with reference points obscured in custom fabrics and intricate construction methods. You can see the brawn of hunting gear behind many of Daiki's fall collections; his recent summer lines are beachwear bright and surf washed. Takuji's work feels more cerebral and academic, pieces straddling the dimensions that push and pull at his design (Basic v Evolved, Standard v Fashion, Casual v Formal). But his clothes are far from joyless. Takuji must have been smiling when he designed the playful touches in his collection: patterns and weaves fading in and out on the same length of fabric; jackets that go from casual to military with the flip of a collar; double faced fabrics pieced together like equations.
As the brands approach driving age (Takuji founded "TS" in 1999; Engineered Garments started the same year), a time of desperate growth and turmoil for many of us, it will be interesting to see how they reflect each other and their founders' personalities. One hopes they can emerge as well-adjusted adults.