Tuesday 31 May 2011

Discovering Tokyo...ID Dailywear

Whilst discovering one of the real highlights of my Tokyo trip in Labrats, I encountered another label of real interest just on the other side of the room. Good friends of Labrats, ID Dailywear have cultivated quite a following over the course of their first few seasons. The label evolved from from a seemingly simple search (in theory not practice) for the perfect white cotton t shirt. After the shirts were snapped up by friends and family, the team set about expanding their offering without compromising their core values of simplicity and function. 

As with so many Japanese labels that catch the eye, there seems to be a lack of information (atleast written in English) but I was able to have a quick chat with one of the designers. Ever since its first collection of tee shirts and lounge wear for SS09, the label has slowly added understated products that place great importance on comfort and quality. For AW11, ID Dailywear have crafted a seemingly complete wardrobe of well tailored staples....

A number of my favourite AW11 looks

During my visit I was able to take a closer look at the AW11 collection and had ample opportunity to marvel at the fabrications and attention to detail. Over three rails, the label exhibited a real show of well made staples that would easily slip inside and liven up any wardrobe...

A closer look at ID Dailywear's AW11 collection

Monday 30 May 2011

Exploring The Contemporary Fix

When I finally decided to make the trip to Tokyo, a place I have been day dreaming about visiting for the last ten years or so, there was one aspect of the city that I was most excited about exploring for myself. Of course, I was eager to eat my weight in all of its delicacies and was intrigued by its cat cafes, lavatory systems from the future and the limitless possibilities of its vending machines. However, I was eager to explore its retail landscape above anything else. There are certain things that the Japanese do better than anyone else. Retail (despite a recent slump in sales) is one of them. During my time in Tokyo, I enthusiastically pinballed my away across the sprawling city and discovered a myriad of concept spaces both large and small. One of the real highlights was The Contemporary Fix.

In 2008 Yuichi Yoshii, the charismatic buyer behind the Celux multi-label boutique and cult store Loveless, added yet another fine string to his bow. He opted to gut his popular Aoyama restaurant Pariya and created a concept space that celebrates the labels that it stocks. Eschewing the elaborate decoration that characterises Loveless, Yoshii kept his new haven minimal, yet still full of wonder and designer discovery. The two floored space takes a gallery approach, installing limited-time exhibitions that spotlight individual brands. The ground level is an inviting cafe and bar that rewards  and rejuvenates customers with a welcome respite from consumerism whilst the second is dedicated to offering a selection of the finest Japanese labels. During my visit I was afforded the opportunity to examine a vast offering from Phenomenon, Visvim, Bedwin & The Heartbreakers, Facetasm and SASQUATCHfabrix to name but a few. Now, I could rattle on and on but I'll save you my waffle and will instead cut to the pictorial chase.
First up, Phenomenon. Established in 2004 by Takeshi Osumi (or BIG-O to his friends) as the more hi end branch and upscale brother of Swagger, Phenomenon has since been something of a cult streetwear brand that purports to fuse elements of American hip hop with that of the most enviable Japanese men's street style. The label has continually showcased a wide spectrum of intricate patterns, cuts, and overall quite out there and wild themes. The Contemporary Fix has the widest selection imaginable...


The highly respected Masafumi Watanabe is the Bedwin and the Heartbreakers creative director and mastermind. The Bedwin motto is "Paramount Quality" and this drive for the very best is evident in each garment. The attention to detail and garment construction is second to none.


SASQUATCHfabrix is an another avant-garde label coming out of Tokyo that has peaked its head out of the underground to widespread acclaim. The label expresses aggression and fearlessness in their approach. The brand are influenced heavily by 90’s Tokyo streetwear, and the clothing of that period. importance on the enjoyment and fun of wearing a garment.


Two pairs of playful, well crafted laceups by Steam and Thread caught my eye. The combination of the smile inducing prints and the welted sole really captured my imagination. I tried to convince Streetpeeper Phil to plump for a pair but sadly to no avail.


Today, where almost anything and everything can be purchased on the Internet, the onus on physical stores is to offer and provide added value. This includes things like the background music playing in the shop, flowers that please the eye, decorative books, even the mood created by the staff. It is the entire  process and cumulative effect of countless little touches that leads to the purchase of the desired items and ensures a return visit. The Contemporary Fix entertains the customer with a complete and enchanting narrative whilst facilitating the discovering of a new designer or three.

Now, I did not leave the store empty handed. I left with a knit by yet another new discovery by the aptly named Tokyo label, Discovered. The local label was founded in 2001 by Tatsuya Kimura and Sanae Yoshida. The pair like little else than juxtaposing contradictory themes. For SS11, in a collection entitled 'Four You', the design duo cross check various youth culture movements. Union Jacks, dots, paisley, and leopard print all feature to dazzling effect. The knit I chose has more than a hint of the Christmas jumper about it but as you know, I'm still trying to experiment with prints and I see no harm in wearing it on a balmy day in May.

Discovered jumper worn with gingham shirt by b Store and trousers (another new purchase) from Ganryu.
A couple of close ups of the eye catching design.
Next time I'm in Tokyo, I will stop by The Contemporary Fix once again, if not to buy or discover but to simply sample another flavour of its tasty gelato. In the meantime, I will continue to champion well considered retail spaces.

Friday 27 May 2011

Details: Real Vintage

The way in which sections of Tokyo enthuse over and embrace vintages, both in terms of a retail and consumer point of view, is very special indeed. This guy was head to toe in garments that were atleast one hundred years old and looked wonderfully fresh. Each item told its own story but I was particularly drawn to the long coat.

Wednesday 25 May 2011

Discovering Tokyo... Labrat


Discovering Labrat

Now, you might have noticed that the blog has been quiet recently. I landed in Tokyo on Saturday afternoon and I've since spent the last few days drunk on food and shopping. When I've not been stuffing my face with sashimi, gyozas, tonkatsu or yakitori, my mind has been blown by the myriad of retail opportunities and discovering designers at every turn. Alongside my recent trip to Singapore I have amassed enough content to keep the blog busy for weeks to come. Whilst I promised myself (and EJ) that I would use this time to take a little blogging holiday to just enjoy myself, I just couldn't resist sharing a few of my finds with you. First up, Labrat via BerBerJin.

BerBerJin are a chain of vintage shops in that have been at the heart of the thriving men’s vintage scene in Tokyo for well over a decade. They have always stocked museum quality examples of international vintage, but recently they creative minds behind it have collaborated with like minded brands to produce items that compliment their beautiful back catalogue and archive. Under the moniker Labrat, the talented bunch romanticise the hardcore and celebrate the underground. Thanks to the well informed Mai, I was pointed in the direction of an exhibition of their AW11 collection and excitedly jumped at the chance to inspect the pieces up close. I was blown away by the attention to detail, fabrications and sheer diversity of their offering. For this season alone they have collaborated with the likes of Blackmeans, George Cox, Porter, Vision, CA4LA, Black &Blue and Discovered. I think the best way to explore the full AW11 line is to introduce the collaborative lineup whilst taking a closer look at the designs...

With each season, Discovered turn to the streets of Tokyo for inspiration. From Shibuya down through Harajuku, the designer duo Tatsuya Kimura and Sanae Yoshida collate and reinterpret the varied styles to create multi faceted designs. The pair like nothing more than juxtaposing contradictory themes and here they have created stunning Aran knits for oversized shorts and jumpers...





The Aran knitted shorts and jumpers in collaboration with Discovered.


One of the more familiar brands of Tokyo native labels involved with Labrat is Porter. Now, everyone should know this maker of well crafted and elegantly designed accessories so I will fast forward on the introductions. Here, the minds of Labrat and Porter combine to create MA1 jackets, matching shorts and laceup backpacks...



The varied fruits of the collaboration with Porter

Blackmeans is a local leather specialist that started out in 2005 as a leather goods manufacturer but soon evolved and began producing their own lines of leather motorcycle jackets, belts and accessories. Here, they continue their successful partnership with Labrat to create a number of jackets and a leather skirt...



The Lightning Leather Jacket with fringe detail beautifully modelled by a member of the Labrat team.


Having first produced brothel creepers in the 50s and winkle pickers in the 60s, George Cox gained notoriety in the 70s when these looks were resurrected by Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren to become the uniform of a generation of punks. Now, one hundred and five years old, the company still continues to grow and develop thanks to their archive of lasts and hunger for product development. Here, the collaboration with Labrat produces the Cross Boot...


The Cross Boots in collaboration with George Cox

Despite my enthused murmurings above, Labrat constitute more than just a number of successful collaborations. In addition to working with some of the finest names in Tokyo, the label have created a number of covetable pieces on their own. Highlights include double cloth basics, kilting and even a Chester coat...







Labrat's own mix of underground classics.


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