from nike airs and crisp tees with polo fleeces..
<p-initials>s<p-initials>pending my formative years out in </p-initials></p-initials>kobe — where the beef is from — you’d think i’d fall for japanese styles early on. nope. like they say: the grass is always greener. what was coveted in the halls of my school were the summer hauls we’d mule back from the states. it was all about phat farm tees & timbs, polo sport sweats & nike air maxes, two-tone nautica windbreakers & clarks wallabees. (a lot of which i lowkey copped bootlegs back in seoul.) and nobody was anybody without a north face backpack with all the straps. (for the record, i had two.) even the local japanese dudes seemed more interested in their vintage hauls, fleeced by the pound from flea markets across america. it was the mid90s and we were all going out of our way to meticulously recreate the american experience in japan, often paying a hefty premium for the privilege. like three dollars for a single pack of pop-tarts. that’s on par with prison prices. like i said, the grass is always greener.
after eight years i related to the culture better than i did my own. there are the clichés that have been fetishized ad nauseum by every travel host, ever: the “quality”, the “craftsmanship”, and the “attention to detail” (all of which are true). but when you live there, all that goes unremarked on. the performance fades into the periphery. in a way they’re taken for granted — it’s just the way things are — a “birthright” as the late, great tony bourdain would put it. and it boils down to the fact that everything in japan operates on trust. trust is credibility. and credibility is currency. without it, you simply couldn’t continue to exist. (it has to do something with rice farming.) and in this trust economy there is no need to question if something is good, you just expect it to be. this was new to me coming from a place where you’re constantly counting the ways you might be getting hustled.
it’s not a place of invention — the japanese don’t really make anything new. instead they cherry-pick from the best around the world; then they meticulously replicate, modify and ultimately perfect. what you end up with is the best version of everything. beef, denim, pizza, toilets — you name it. so when i’m looking for anything, it’s a good idea to start there first. but it took a while for me to get into their clothes — literally, i had to drop a few pounds before i could squeeze into some of the more generously cut pieces. but once i did, i fell into a rabbithole that i’m still happily burrowing through to this day. and nothing will replace being there to shop. they know how to sell you on something without it feeling like you’re being sold anything you didn’t want. they’re just letting you in on something you didn’t know you needed. but the times are the times. and let’s face it, they’re never going to figure out the internet. or international shipping. even with the proxies, it’s not great. and the markups on the distributed products are ridiculous. but we know you’re out there. so this is our way of bridging the gap.