Japan has always had a sort of mythological ethos for me. A Holy Land of sorts. For over a decade I would thumb through Japanese magazines and hear tales of my friends' trips, "Jake, you have to go." So when the opportunity finally presented itself to direct films in Tokyo for K-Swiss Japan I jumped at it.
It has taken me a couple of weeks to process the experience. So now I'll give you some insight into the trip. As superficial as this sounds I think some of the products I purchased say more about the culture than one would think. So here are the highlights as I'll try my best to shed some light...
The label inside this blazer reads, "Everything is original. You see the stars in the night sky. You feel the wind when you move. Your body is energized by sunlight. Every day passes as usual. But now you are part of nature. Do not iron. Do not copy. From nature in JPN."
A blue double breasted blazer to the naked eye but when you start noticing the details it's far from that. The fabric is Pertex which is typically found in technical down jackets and sleeping bags. Each gold button is different. The 30D Pertex madras lining is actually printed patchwork. Nanamica is a line I was introduced to for the first time by visiting their Daikanyama shop. They are also the guys behind The North Face Purple Label.
The North Face Purple Label Medium Day Pack Para Flower Print
I brought back a lot of gifts for friends. Chris Black said he wanted some crazy shit... So I got him the floral backpack and has since been made fun of by small children on the streets of L.E.S. The North Face Purple Label is a license that is only available in Japan.
I got the more modest black tote for myself to bring back some goodies. The camoflauge pocket inside is a nice bonus. Honestly, I don't know how much I would like these if they were available stateside. I think some of the appeal is that you can only get them in Japan and therefore one of the lucky few to walk around with one back home.
United Arrows was described to me as The Gap of Japan. I personally think it's a lot better than The Gap. This cap grabbed my eye from the window display. The floral fabric is a standout and has been used for a few other great things I've seen this season.
New Balance Made In England 1500s
New Balance has a slightly different positioning in Tokyo. They're treated like luxury shoes placed next to the likes of Common Projects and Birkenstocks. Stores like Tomorrowland and Beams+ have an assortment of Made In USA and Made In England 993s, 1500s, and 998s. Which, ironically, are easier to find there, than stateside. I love grey New Balance with the small "N" so I had to have these.
Birkenstock is another brand that has a lot reverence in Japan. Again treated more like a luxury shoe than a hippie dippie back of the store stepchild. One of my goals was to get another pair of Montanas while I was there. These were extremely easy to find. The mall a short distance from the Cerulean Tower had a wide assortment of colorways.
I wear beanies late into the Spring season. These Pre Organic Cotton beanies from Beams+ are some of the more interesting ones I've ever felt. The cotton is breathable but has a tough feel, which I love... Almost like straw that will get softer with age and wear. I purchased every color because I'm a crackhead I couldn't make a decision.
Japan's range of socks for men is pretty incredible. I think out of everything I bought, I endulged in socks the most. I purchased the full range of the color spectrum in melange from San Francisco by Seilin. And also got some pretty eclectic styles at Tabio which is devoted to making socks in Japan.
Danner Japan Slusher 3 Eyelets
One of those fascinating things about Japan is they have amazing American brand goods that we can't get in the USA. These Danner Japan Slusher 3 Eyelets are a great example of that. A unique take on a Bean Boot only available in Japan. I had my eye on the waxed cotton camouflage version but they were sold out. These are a nice alternative. Thanks to Eva and Danner for the love.
New Era Japan New York Yankees Tiger Camo Black Corduroy
New Era is another brand that is licensed in Japan that has some pretty interesting exclusives. While I was there I picked up the camo and polka dot in attempt to compete with Angelo Urrutia... Unfortunately, he always wins.
Most of the shops I went into were burning Nag Champa which brought me back to the nineties in New York City. But I noticed one of the Beams+ had an incredible scent. A while back my buddy Michael Raphael introduced me to Kuumba. And they had a wide selection of incense and room spray from them. The particular scent they were burning was Good Day. I brought back a couple packs.
Limited Edition Wasabi Kit Kats
No trip is complete without some treats. I brought back some limited edition boxes of Kit Kats for my friends to enjoy. I was informed that the airport would have every variety. Kit Kat makes region-specific flavors you can only buy in that specific location. I have to say there are some pretty varied flavors like cheesecake and soy sauce. My favorite is wasabi.
Overall I had an amazing time and have an even greater respect for Japanese culture. The level they are able to take the classics I love is beautiful. Their attention to detail, as well as their sensibility, is something you have to experience for yourself. Special thanks to Ryan Babenzien for showing me the ropes. Hopefully our films, which launch shortly, will help give you more perspective. In the mean time I thought I'd share some of my favorite purchases with you guys... Also expect a separate post on my favorite brand Kapital and other exclusives soon...