Why is UK menswear so popular in Japan?
A sense of “Origin”, “Craftsmanship” and “Long-lasting” quality are some of the reasons why UK menswear is popular in Japan, says Yuta Watanabe, Managing Director of Watanabe & Co.
Watanabe & Co is a Japanese agent which has been working with UK brands, such as Joseph Cheaney, Drake’s, Johnstons of Elgin, Blackhorse Lane Ateliers, Brooks England and Chester Jefferies, since 1962. The company works with prestigious Japanese retailers including Beams, United Arrows, Bshop, Urban Research, Baycrew’s Group, Amazon Japan, Mitsukoshi Isetan and Hankyu Hanshin Department Stores.
Yuta Watanabe says:
“Origin”: If we follow the details of the clothes and shoes, we will find that many of them originate from the UK. The fact that they originate from the UK means that they have a unique value created by the history of the UK, and I feel that there is a point where we are attracted to that value, that is, the part that is authentic.
“Craftsmanship”: Along with respect for products made by artisans’ hands, I think there is an appeal to products that feel the warmth of human hands. Many customers feel the value of products that are backed by technique, experience, and stories, products that are filled with the thoughts of craftsmen.
“Long-lasting” quality: The fact that the products are designed to be used for a long time is also one of their attractions. For example, Northampton’s Goodyearwelt construction is famous for British shoes. Products that can be worn for a long time by changing the sole will make us feel more attached to them and want to use them for a long time. The same goes for bridle leather, a British material that allows us to enjoy our own aging process while using it. We feel that it is because the material can be used for a long time that we can experience this kind of pleasure of increasing its value over time.
Finally, in the Japanese tea ceremony, there is a saying, “Half part is for the maker, half part is for the user.” It is an expression used to describe the utensils used for drinking tea, and it means a utensil is not complete just when it is made by a craftsman, but it becomes a work of art when the user continues to use it. This is the meaning of the expression. I feel this spirit can also be said of products full of British craftsmanship. This is the appeal of British fashion, which is close to the spirit of Japanese people, and I think this is the reason why British products are so popular here in Japan.
With grateful thanks to Yuta Watanabe, Managing Director of Watanabe & Co for his words and images.
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