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Lifestyle: American retro

by Michael Weare
2 July, 2013
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About the author

Michael Weare has been a professional writer for 30 years, writing about Japanese technology, German and Italian cars, British tailoring and Swiss watches. Michael manages the editorial content of Click Tempus and will be keeping the magazine fresh and informative with regular features, as well as bringing great writers to the magazine. Email: michael@clicktempus.com

Steve Mc Queen in The Great Escape

Lifestyle

The classic, rugged and durable American men’s clothing styles of the 30’s 40’s and 50’s had a profound influence in Japan. To this day, there are passionate manufacturers in Japan who make it their life’s work to faithfully reproduce American clothing classics, right down to the last intricate detail. Their products are far more detailed and of vastly superior quality than anything that is mass produced for the American market these days. As we all know, globalisation has meant that the vast majority of the world wears clothing made in China, Bangladesh or India. It’s priced irresistibly low to sell, and for that we are prepared to accept that we are going to have to skimp on quality. Clothes are no longer expected to last for years, they are designed to last only a single season.

You can of course opt for the designer route and buy expensive contemporary clothing that follows more the imagination of the designer than the authentic blueprints of the original classic items such as the patented design for Levi’s jeans, or the exact specifications of a chambray work shirt. But if it’s genuine American classics of exceptional quality you are after in all but the country of manufacture, look to Japan.

Devis Jeans

Devis Jeans
At first this brand may sound and look like a cheap Levi’s knock off, but when you look more closely, you will see the extreme quality with which these jeans are made. These are denims made to the same exacting standards as prescribed by Levi Strauss and tailor Jacob Davis  when they patented them in May 1873.

Devis Tag

Devis (possibly a play on Levis and Davis) have thoroughly raided the Levi’s 501 back catalogue and copied every minutiae. Incidentally, Okayama is the denim capital of Japan where these jeans are lovingly made.

Himel Brothers Kensington Leather Jacket

Himel Brothers Leather Jacket

David Himel is American. His passion for leather jackets grew out of a vintage clothing business that was started in 1993. The beginnings of the internet and the desire to accumulate knowledge as to which garments had value lead him to research furiously every detail of construction, heritage, and the history behind each rare piece he found. The Japanese connection in this story is that it was only after the publication of Rin Tanaka’s book Motorcycle Jackets: A Century of Design that he discovered that many of the designs in the book were the work of his grandfather, who ran Himel Brothers Leather.

Back of Kensington jacket

These stunningly simple yet elegant leather jackets cost close to $2,000 but they have obsessive compulsive detail to them. Each garment is hand cut, to perfectly match the grain and colour of each panel. High stitch counts recreate the exact style of 1940’s manufacture. Even the zips are genuine 1950’s Lightning Zippers. The inner shell is Japanese made tiger camo. A Himel jacket is designed to hand on to your grandchildren.

Mr. Freedom Sportsman Shirt

Mr Freedom Sportsman shirt

This time a French designer by the name of Christophe Loiron wanted to faithfully reproduce the utilitarian chic of American 1930’s and 40’s marine work wear. The attention to detail is beyond anything you will experience even from many a high-end label and the passion put into every garment is immediately obvious. Although designed by M. Loiron, he turned to Japan based Toyo Enterprises to provide the cotton because it’s in Japan that you can find the necessary obsessive adherence to quality. These shirts are proudly made in the USA and cost $280.00.

Toys McCoy Steve McQueen Desert Boots

Toys McCoy Steve McQueen Desert Boots

Toys McCoy is a Japanese company utterly hooked on Americana. They make clothing as well as action figurines in highly detailed clothing. Everything they make is to a quality which time has simply forgotten. The undeniable cool of Steve McQueen led to them faithfully reproduce several of the garments he has worn in his movies. In particular, the boys at Toys Mc Coy reproduced every garment Steve McQueen wore in the movie classic The Great Escape. Here is their version of the desert boots he wears throughout the movie. The boots he wore were authentic US military World War II boots. They’re known as M-43 Type III’s. These accurate and top quality reproductions will set you back around £500.00.

Heuer Yellow Gold Chronograph

Heuer 1950s chronograph

Match the mood of these great retro garments by seeking out a genuine 1950s Heuer (as in TAG Heuer) Chronograph. This watch has fixed lugs so you can fit your own quality leather NATO style strap to it. Sub dials are at 3 and 9 o’clock. TAG Heuer supplied Steve McQueen with the now legendary Monaco watch for the movie Le Mans.

Michael Weare | Website

Michael Weare has been a professional writer for 30 years, writing about Japanese technology, German and Italian cars, British tailoring and Swiss watches. Michael manages the editorial content of Click Tempus and will be keeping the magazine fresh and informative with regular features, as well as bringing great writers to the magazine. Email: michael@clicktempus.com

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