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Like many things, Champion is flat out better in Japan. The Asia focused line offers up better fitting garments and higher quality construction. Classic Champion staples like Reverse Weave sweatshirts, jerseys, hoodies and outerwear are all here. There is even a leather jacket on offer. Keep in mind that this lookbook was shot with the Korean market in mind but it should be distributed across Asia. Take a look below at the entire lookbook over at their official site.

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If you’re gonna get a Champion crewneck, it’s always been the case that the reverse weave joints are THAT much nicer. They’re more durable, hold their shape better after countless washes, and to me they’ve come represent a golden era of American manufacturing technique. It’s not suprising then that Champion Japan has produced it’s own line of basics that take inspiration from the original and add a modern twist. You can expect a better fit and an attractive marled texture that reminds me a bit of old Wings+Horns stuff. Of course these cost a bit more than their American counterparts but the price points are pretty fair (about $40-60 depending on the item). Get it straight from the source, but just a warning: you may need a proxy.

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Photo: Undercover Aoyama

As I’ve learned more about fashion, my personal tastes have gravitated towards many labels based in Japan. To me many Japanese brands appeal due to the quality of product, but also due to the unique perspectives that designers from there provide. Many Japanese labels have had little opportunity (or in some cases interest) in expanding past the island’s borders. An article published yesterday on the Business of Fashion explores the phenomenon of ‘madoguchi’ who are essentially the gatekeepers of business in Japan to the international market. As I post many Japanese lines here, I think this article helps explain some basic issues that are unique to the fashion business there.

The excerpt from the article below does a good job of summarizing the role of madoguchi in the fashion marketplace.

In Japanese business culture, the ‘madoguchi’ (literally, ‘window opening’) was traditionally someone who sat as the designated contact person funnelling all dialogue between two companies. Over time, it has also come to refer to a host of independent specialists who – to varying degrees – act as scout, market researcher, mediator, cultural ambassador, interpreter and deal broker between Japanese and international markets. As in most other sectors, they are usually bicultural and bilingual but ‘fashion hunters’, as they’re sometimes playfully cast in our industry, are an especially diverse, valuable and enigmatic bunch.

“There are so many Japanese brands at the moment. They come and go, so it may be difficult to understand what’s relevant and what’s not, if your ‘madoguchi’ isn’t based here in Tokyo,” says Hidetaka Furuya, chief editor of The Fashion Post, a rare online source of fashion and lifestyle news published both in English and Japanese.

Furuya himself has operated as a ‘madoguchi’ – or “Japanese ambassador” as he prefers to call it – for LN-CC, an East London concept store which has since become one of the few places outside Japan to buy cult labels like SASQUATCHfabrix, Blackmeans, Nonnative, Unused and Sunsea.

“The thing is, I sometimes get the impression that Tokyo streetwear brands are consciously trying to be less visible on the scene [while others ] are not as visible as they should be because they’re shy, anti-mainstream or too-cool-for-school,” he continues. “Their attitude kind of reminds me of this Japanese proverb that means ‘a skilled hawk hides its talons.’ They often say they’re just making what they want to wear, producing really well-made things in Japan. They present their collections when they are ready; not during the Japan Fashion Week period. However, all this makes it difficult for foreign buyers to visit Tokyo to buy good Japanese labels.”

 

Read the entire article by Robb Young on “The Gatekeepers Who Hold the Keys to Japanese Fashion
BoF

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I’m constantly inspired by the style of strangers on the streets of New York. But when I’m online I like to take a look at what’s occurring in far off lands and Japanese streetstyle has long been my favorite. I would say that Japanese streetstyle blogs really emphasize brand-mixing and celebrating a personalized look. Here are some of my favorite looks from the Japanese streetstyle blog Style Arena.

Here are some of my November streetstyle picks from Harajuku, Ginza, Daikanyama, and Shibuya.

Yuki Ikeda

Hunting jacket: JUNYA WATANABE COMME des GARÇONS MAN
Shirt: SLACK
Sarrouel Pants: GANRYU
Loafers: Hender Scheme × HARUTA
Bag: Hender Scheme

A very Junya-esque look worn with a lot of confidence. The proportions and lines are clean and the pants are drop-crotch without being extreme. Casual and effortless and the all khaki is a good contrast to the indigo shirt below.

Paz

Trench Coat: COMME des GARÇONS HOMME PLUS
Shirt: COMME des GARÇONS
Handbag: Ungaro

Paz is wearing a men’s jacket and owning it. This pattern isn’t easy to pull off but the color on the dress and shoes help tone down how eye-catching it is.  This fit is better than the sum of it’s parts and to me that indicates great personal style.

Mayumi Kaneko

Chester Coat: URBAN RESEARCH
Loafers: URBAN RESEARCH
Tote Bag: MARC BY MARC JACOBS

A nice languid fit that’s broken up by the cropped patterned trousers and cropped coat sleeves. A simple fit but the looseness of the clothes puts a really nice drape. Doesn’t hurt that this beezy has such a great haircut either.

Yamazoe

Chester Coat: JOHN LAWRENCE SULLIVAN
Shirt: JOHN LAWRENCE SULLIVAN
Slacks: JOHN LAWRENCE SULLIVAN
Scarves: BALMAIN
Sneakers: VANS
Socks: UNIQLO
Tote Bag: YOHJI YAMAMOTO

The vans in this fit tone down a luxe look with mostly John Lawrence Sullivan. I like that the chesterfield does not look too dressy here and instead gives more of a youthful vibe. The slacks fit perfect but the purple socks put this one over the top.

Shinya

Coat: COMME des GARCONS
Jacket work: COMME des GARCONS
Shirt: COMME des GARCONS
Pants skinny: banal Chic Bizarre
Glasses: MYKITA
Sneakers: Y-3

Shinya is pulling off three difficult things here: orange hair, black and navy and layering a jacket underneath a coat. For that he deserves props. Before you attempt this look make sure your swag is up to pair, self-doubt will be your downfall.

 

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Whiz Limited is a brand that is new to me but has existed in Japan for a decade. The brand’s founder Hiroaki Shitano began with hand-made t-shirts with his friends and since then has expanded to create a complete men’s line. The concept of Whiz Limited is creating ‘Individual Clothing’ ; garments that represent different aspects of Tokyo culture without succumbing to a stereotyped, contrived “Tokyo Streetstyle”.

What i like about this collection are the well-executed outerwear pieces  paired with the clean practical styling. The garments are takes on familiar men’s staples but the line does not go overboard on design details. Many current menswear designers have a tendency to overdesign at times and I think the restraint seen here should be applauded. What I also liked is that these full looks would be very easy for guys to wear but the styling also shows how many of the pieces can be worked into a variety of wardrobes. A quick glance at the web-store revealed prices for outerwear range from about ¥20,000 to ¥100,000 (Approx 1260 USD). I will definetly be featuring more coverage on this brand in the future.

via Fashion Snap

 

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Above looks styled by Jun Takahashi

Avid readers of Third Looks will know that one of my favorite designers is Jun Takahashi of Undercover. While the Spring/Summer collection of UU did not blow me away I was able to find a bunch of great wardrobe basics in the selection. This August will mark the release of the Fall/Winter 12/13 Uniqlo x UC collaboration and from what I can see it is a definite step up from the first collection. It seems that this collection parallels what Jun has been doing with his recent mainline UC collections (namely Open Strings and Psycho Color) in terms of texture and color palette. The outerwear is the strongest draw for me with the Utility coat(Warm lite liner), Body warm lite Padded jacket and Micro fleece hoodie being my standouts.

More photos (including the women’s and kids looks) are on the UU Collection Site as well as on Pinterest.

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‘Happy Victims, You Are What You Buy’ by Kyoichi Tsuzuki
Seigensha, Kyoto, 2008. 178 pp., 85 color illustrations, 10½x8″.

Happy Victims is a photo book that profiles Japanese individuals who are obsessed with one particular designer. In the book collectors range from a Buddhist monk who visits his Tokyo condo filled with Comme des Garcons religiously once a month to an instructor at Bunka Fashion College who goes by the name “Maestro Margiela”. The caption underneath his portrait proclaims that he would rather eat out than risk infusing his clothes with cooking smells so he keeps only eardrops in the refrigerator and has never used the cooker.

The book is part of a large body of photojournalist work by Tsuzuki that includes his seminal work ‘Tokyo Style.’ Looking through Happy Victims sheds light on the sacrifices and eccentricities of the obessed Japanese fashion collector. Fashion often criticized for only highlighting the glitz and glamor of the runway; this book only strives to capture clothes in their most honest of settings : the home.

You can purchase a copy HERE

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I have begun to explore further into the world of Japanese menswear and the history of it’s development. While browsing LN-CC I came accross this feature in which LN-CC speaks with Hiromichi Ochiai of Facetasm and the design team behind SASQUATCHfabrix The Wonder Workers Guerilla band.

An excerpt from the terrific feature below.

‘It was against this background that a new movement of street fashion and culture began to gather momentum. Centered around a small area of Harajuku, a rag-tag collection of young designers and retailers began to make their mark on Tokyo’s landscape of fashion and culture. Known by Japanese fashion press as the “Ura-Harajuku movement”, the group was spearheaded by designers, proprietors and cultural figureheads such as Hiroshi Fujiwara, Nigo (A Bathing Ape) and Takahashi Jun (Undercover). Through their proposal of a new concept of design and retail, one which centred on the notions of “identity” and “exclusivity”, the “Ura-Harajuku” movement was to have a profound influence on Tokyo fashion and youth culture.

According to SASQUATCHfabrix designer Yokoyama, “In those days, rather than fashion, the notion of “limited”, “deadstock” and “exclusive” were the real buzzwords. Through these rare items you could become part of a minority – a minority based on a high sense of style. Searching, collecting and completing were the things we adhered to, we were all totally enveloped in the mania for this.”

Another notable feature of this period was the emergence of a variety of Japanese men’s’ fashion magazines who had a central role in communicating the values attached with the Ura-Harajuku movement to a wider audience. To this day, Japanese offline fashion press continues to have an undeniably strong influence on menswear trends through the country. The roots of this role can in many ways be traced back to this period when magazine’s like Popeye, Mens Non-no and Hot Dog championed the movement, providing key cultural figures the opportunity to express not only the garments but the wider cultural context of art, fashion and music which informed their lifestyle of their culture. This in turn served to fuel an army of “fanatics” who would rush to the stores like Nigo and Takahashi Jun’s “Nowhere” to snap up any new limited edition items featured in the latest issue, or hunt far and wide for the more hard-to-find pieces. ‘

Read the entire piece here

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