by Neil Watson

The ingenuity of Japanese design is innovation building on an awareness of history. I’ve never been to the country myself, but from my seat, menswear in Japan takes this ethos to a whole new dimension. Where else are you going to find a place willing to re-authenticate American culture (however defined) and subversively re-create it?

I took notice of this the first time I saw a picture of Kamoshita-san on the Sartorialist some years ago. Two things struck me. The first was his European aesthetic, and the second was the way he carried himself. Italian charisma had somehow come into corporeal form as a Japanese man.

What is it about Italy that leads one to act, dress, eat and speak in this way? We’ve all seen it in the hoards of Pitti Uomo pictures, the men standing nonchalantly, smoking a cigarette void of any care. Some engaged in conversations that look more like a musical rendition of the Godfather. Who wouldn’t want a piece of that?

From the very moment I landed in Italy, I felt enveloped in this unquantifiable feeling. You cannot express it, really. It was living the good life, la dolce vita. And just before you thought I went way off topic, this is what I see in Japanese styling. “It is not about the clothes,” as Taka Osaki of Liverano & Liverano once said, “they are just extensions of it…” the it referring to the Italian lifestyle. 

There is now a sense of reforming the ideals of the good life, through ruggedness and soft tailoring. It’s somewhat banal to even get into, the minutia of dressing, the style cycle as it comes ‘round and back again every 7 years or so. Perhaps my point is, if the Japanese men that I’ve seen have latched on to this wave, perhaps there is something more to it than meets the eye. Maybe, just maybe it’s a suggestion to live better and feel better as a goal outside of the whirling waltz of fashion. I say why not, evviva la bella vita!

Photo by Neil Watson