The "Problem" of the Niche

Because you're reading this article on Styleforum, we can reasonably assume you are a connoisseur of sorts. That is – you have a penchant for fine clothes and the craftsmanship that materialises them.

The appreciation for the highest expression of a craft extends beyond the clothing industry. Let’s take cars, for example. There are a myriad of different options for vehicles in the car industry that vary from small American hatchbacks to luxury German sedans.

Not many people are familiar with a small Swedish car manufacturer that goes by the name of Koenigsegg. The reason is this company attracts a very selected group of customers: Koenigsegg makes arguably some of the best sports cars in the world. Their vehicles abound with features and innovations that ultimately allow for the highly engineered machines to move around the track and corner like none other.

And yet, it is not on account of the hyper-specialised type of cars they produce that Koenigsegg's name is not often uttered by the average driver. Rather, the spectacular features that characterise these vehicles are so esoteric and specific that few are able to fully appreciate them. There is, thus, a problem. It is not immediately clear to the layman why one should pay the three-million-dollar price tag for the car.

Let’s call this the "problem" of the niche. What about these cars can possibly explain their high cost? In contrast to the layman, an enthusiast can enumerate the reasons to justify the price, as a result of their specialist knowledge; they will point at the carbon fibre, the seven-clutch system, and the camless engine design and explain they represent the pinnacle of car engineering, something an average driver would quite possibly not care about. This places Koenigsegg in a niche market that remains obscure to the majority of people.

However, far from being a problem, a niche market rooted in excellency can represent a good business opportunity. Rolls Royce is a case in point, for the name is now synonymous with luxury. Its mention garners respect and elicits images of beautiful and luxurious British engineering. Interestingly, nobody complains about the price of a Rolls Royce; they accept it. In fact, they revel and celebrate it.

Nakata - the Rolls Royce of Hangers

Now, consider one of the most ubiquitous objects in your home – a clothes hanger. The variance is abundant. Hangers come in all shapes, sizes, and materials; most common are wire hangers, moulded plastic ones, and several wooden varieties. Some of us, engrossed in a home-organisation project prompted by the confinement in the early days of the pandemic, might have fallen for the fad of those hideous thin velvet hangers.

At the opposite side of the spectrum, much like Koenigsegg and Rolls Royce compared to a cranky sedan, there is a specialist maker at the pinnacle and, perhaps, one that deserves special attention. Hailing from Japan, Nakata hangers range from $50 to $1500 each.
Once the sticker shock wears off, you might want to keep reading and get a glimpse of the process behind crafting such a hanger.

What would be the hanger analogue to a camless engine or a 7-clutch gearbox?


Three stages of carving the Nakata NH-2 Hanger

The Nakata Art Display on Savile Row

Arterton (a Styleforum friend and affiliate vendor) is diving enthusiastically into the niche of luxury hangers. They have recently built the “The Nakata Art Display”, which is on semi-permanent display at The Service, 19 Savile Row. The display showcases a number of limited-edition Nakata hangers that highlight the various steps of the production process as well as the functional features of these luxury hangers.


The Nakata Art Display

The unveiling event took place at The Arterton Seasonal Showroom (20 Savile Row) and The Service (19 Savile Row) on the 27th of January 2023, with a number of Savile Row houses, couture brands, and industry members in attendance. (Arterton currently supplies a third of the Savile Row houses with these hangers)


Guests of the Nakata Art Display Unveiling on Savile Row

The display itself proudly showcased a number of flagship NH-2 hangers. These hangers are hand-planed from a single block of wood using a traditional Japanese tool called the Nankin kanna. As opposed to mechanical sanding, hand-planing allows for the grain of the wood to be preserved, thereby allowing it to be visible even after staining.

Moreover, the shape of each hanger is optimised to preserve the structure of your suit, coat, or jacket. Looking from the top-down, it emulates the natural human curvature and even creates volume within the garment when hung to encourage ventilation.


Top-Down view of a Nakata Hanger

Trouser bar diameters measure at 1.5cm, which is industry-leading, and they're designed to prevent the dreaded centre line fold. Might this be akin to the 7-clutch system found in the Koenigsegg? Even the shirt hangers are more than double the ordinary thickness, with the AUT-09 being 20mm thick. This takes care of even the most delicate and loosely woven shirts.


Wajima Mt Fuji Hanger in Green

But functionality is not everything these hangers have to offer: they are also treated as art. The above Wajima Urushi hanger has been lacquered and hand-painted as an homage to Mount Fuji. Interestingly, the paint is made out of the sap of the Urushi tree.


Limited Edition Savile Row Wajima

In order to celebrate the British tradition of bespoke suiting, the canonical Savile Row street sign was hand-painted on a second Wajima hanger by Okagaki-san and proudly put on display. All Wajima limited editions are available on special commission from Arterton for £1400 each.

However, by far the most popular hanger model is the Nakata AUT-05. It is available in three lengths, which is especially pertinent if you require a more specific size. A hanger that is too narrow for your garment would lack the necessary support, whilst a hanger that is too long will protrude and damage the shoulders of a jacket.

Like all other Nakata hangers, the hook of the AUT-05 is fully rotatable and will not fail. The trouser bar is suspended and pneumatically punched into place for robustness. One can add personalised name engraving.


Nakata AUT-05

The unveiling event was in full attendance; each of the 125 guests received a token to redeem a courtesy Nakata hanger at The Arterton Seasonal Showroom.

Following the public unveiling event, a private reception and dinner was held at a nearby private members club for select clients of Arterton. Those from Hackett, Huntsman, Norton & Sons, Cad & the Dandy, Whitcomb & Shaftesbury, and Maurice Sedwell were in attendance.


The Private Dinner

All Nakata hangers are available, with engraving options, via Arterton. Those in London, may also visit The Valet, 5 Piccadilly Arcade, a stocklist of Nakata hanger.

Styleforum users enjoy 10% off every purchase at Arterton with the code SFARTERTON.