I love everything about Japan. Everything. The culture focuses on being courteous, polite, hardworking, and focuses on skilled craftmanship (the food!). There’s virtually no violent crimes, hardly any theft, and little visible aggression. It’s simple; treat others like you want to be treated, and treat your environment with respect. There’s no trash, no pee on the subway bathroom seat, no pushing to get where you need to be, no hostility. Boring? Maybe. But wonderfully peaceful. My husband and I were lucky enough to revisit last month and made the strong claim that we’d live there in a heart beat. Go visit if you can. It’s currently a bargain and there are lots of direct flights from the U.S.
Here’s the other reason (blog/stylist reason) why I love Japan; they care about how they dress. In my make-believe travel yearbook, I’d vote Tokyo as the best dressed city. Granted, my travel yearbook has some holes, but I’ve been to a lot of the obvious nominees: London, Rome, Paris, Milan, NYC, LA, Hong Kong, etc. Japan takes the cake by a long shot. Like their demeanor, it’s not flashy or in your face. They simply where quality clothes that fit. David Sedaris says it best in an interview for Rookie, “What I like about Japanese stuff is that it’s generally not about looking sexy. It’s good clothing for older people who like having a little secret: special lining inside their pockets, or really big buttons.” I love that. It’s so true. It’s all about detail, cut, and higher quality fabrics. It’s not a cheap place to shop, but if your Japanese closet is the size of 3 down filled North Face jackets, you become a bit more selective about what you buy and won’t mind paying for it. As I mentioned many moons ago on this blog before, I don’t think the size of your closet represents how well you dress. Stacks of ill fitting sale items that you may pull from every other year doesn’t make you a better dresser. Sticking to a limited plan, painstakingly deciding over wardrobe purchases, and focusing on quality will. You don’t need a lot, just be smart about it. [Disclaimer: You also don’t have to care about fashion. I completely respect that path too. This rant is for those of us who do.]
Another super bonus point about visiting Tokyo; it has by far and away the best shopping. It has it all; low end, high end, and AMAZING vintage stores. Too bad I only ever travel with a backpack or else I may have lost a mortgage payment. None-the-less, I poked around for days and got really inspired. I found that men’s fashion was treated with the same weight as women’s. In fact, I’d say there are maybe more male stores than female. Imagine that? And do you know what the current trend is in Japanese male fashion and has been for a couple of years? Classic americana. They all dress like the survivors from the 1993 movie Alive. Seeing how I got my fashion sense from studying L.L. Bean catalogs when I was little, I can’t get enough of this look. As a tourist, I always feel uncomfortable pointing my camera at locals and shooting them doing everyday things like they’re Mickey and Minnie, therefore I don’t have any images of how great Japanese men dress. But I did pick up this amazing magazine 3 years ago on my first trip, and again this time around called Free & Easy.
You can find these garments at Japanese chain BEAMS or there’s an insane amount in vintage stores. Here are some retail photos I took from the trip.
I feel like I can’t make a Tokyo fashion post without mentioned Comme des Garcons. Rei Kawakubo was inspired by how the bag ladies of NYC androgynous look and how they effortless layered garments. Voila; one of the most influential design houses was born. Comme des Garcons didn’t have as big of a presence in the U.S. until recently, when J.Crew decided to do a collaboration with them and sell their everyday line, PLAY. But when you’re in Tokyo, Rei Kawakubu’s line is everywhere. Her flagship store in Tokyo feels like a fun house with its insane architecture and little coves filled with the most inventive cuts of fabric you’ll ever see. Whether or not you’re into fashion, it’s worth checking out for its articulated craziness.
Click on the image below to check out Comme des Garcons.
Here’s a link to the J.Crew line. J. Crew
Shhh, little secret: save your pennies, you can buy all of these for much less on EBAY. If you would like to find items in her line in the U.S., visit Barneys and Opening Ceremony (there may be others too).