Mat Kieser gives us his take on Tokyo fashion
Words and photos: Mat Kieser
I have been to Tokyo twice now. Once in the middle of winter when the temperature was hanging somewhere around -10c and then in the middle of summer when it was around 35c.
Both times were great for different reasons, and both experiences highlighted the fact that in Tokyo, when it comes to what people wear there, there are very few rules bar one. Dress well.
For me personally the Japanese middle aged men sum up this one rule perfectly. They are the perfect example of where Japan is at, that age old tradition of perfection and quality, but in keeping with modern day fits and fabrics.
Take note - these are looks that are reserved for the Japanese Street Gods, and trying to recreate them will be at your peril.
"Ha look at that dude with socks and sandals, lame!"
"Whoa! Another dude with socks and sandals, weird, is that the same guy?"
"Damn, look at that dude's sandals, yeah he’s wearing socks, but those sandals are great."
"Um excuse me, sir, I'd like a pair of those sandals, and, um, yeah, give me the socks as well, please."
Now I’m not saying that socks and sandals are cool, and I’m not saying I’ll ever wear them, but spend a day in Tokyo and you will more than likely consider it.
That’s not to say it's all crazy. There are the guys that do understated very well. A great suit, slightly raised hem, leather loafers, and then either a wide brim hat, vintage baseball cap or beanie. Then there's the inverted silhouette of a wider leg pants and more fitted jacket or shirt.
It all just looks so very good, this hodge podge of old school Americana and the best of Europe all thrown together with some Japanese sophistication and sensibility.
After you’ve seen how all the pieces get put together, going to find them is the next best part. Retail in Tokyo is on a whole other level. From the clean walls and great garments in United Arrows to the curated disaster that is Harajuku's vintage shops. You can find it all here.
I was never really into buying second hand clothing, and it wasn't the idea of it that put me off, I just never really found anything I liked. That is until Harajuku, which takes Levis, Carharrt, Vans, Nike, Polo, Ralph Lauren... all the good stuff, collects and then curates the best of the best.
And if that isn’t your vibe, you can find that brand new goodness everywhere you turn. SHIPS Jet Blue, United Arrows, Beams are all at the forefront of great menswear stores along with all the extras. Then there are the branded stores: Supreme, Undefeated, BAPE...
Don't even get me started on the sneakers. (No need, Hayden Manuel has written an entire essay on hunting for kicks in Tokyo).
But then you're not in Tokyo to spend your days in stores. Get out! Go explore that little alley that looks a bit dodgy, but definitely isn’t.
Above all remember where you are, Tokyo might seem like Disneyland but it really isn’t. So don’t be loud and crass, respect the locals, don’t talk too loud on the subway, in fact, if you can, don’t talk at all when you're on there.
Be polite and wear a smile.
Just make sure that it goes with your shoes.