Remi Relief Fall/Winter 2014Words by Ben P. There are a lot of Japanese workwear brands at tradeshows, and moving from booth to booth can be somewhat of a blur – down jackets blend into down jackets, rucksacks blend into rucksacks and so on. Luckily, Remi Relief, despite its Americana roots, was a welcome relief from the clothing tedium. Unlike most Japanese interpretations of American clothing, Remi Relief ignores the Maine/East Coast style of workwear favored by Engineered Garments and similar brands for a much more easy going, West Coast vibe. Mixing Southwest inspired indigo patterns with traditional workwear fabrics like down and flannel, Remi Relief seems at home in a sun blasted Death Valley landscape, worn during a star-filled night in 1969 by a hanger on to the Manson family. Everything has a faded look that in most brands would look tacky and ill-conceived, but here seems appropriate and skillful. My favorite pieces from the collection include a series of indigo and chambray shirts with hand-sewn feather embellishments, and a group of fleece hoodies that seem a mix of Patagonia offshoots and Mexican ponchos. Like any workwear brand, Remi Relief’s outerwear is impressive, and seems to follow a modular approach. While the down jackets aren’t particularly heavyweight, they’re designed to be paired with down vests. Like the shirting, many of the jackets have extensive, custom-designed patterning based off vintage pieces. The sweaters and sweatshirts feature similar motifs, and are dotted with floral patterns and faded American flags. I was also struck by the material choices – while most Fall/Winter collections are filled with heavy wools, the majority of pieces were made from cotton, and would work best in a milder climate. Detailing is impressive throughout. The snap buttons on jackets and vests are custom made, based off vintage coins, and what distressing there is is applied by hand. Most pieces are produced in Japan, although some of the outerwear is manufactured in China. The challenge with Remi, and with so many similar Japanese brands, is the scarcity of American stockists. Hopefully the brand can follow in the recent success of ts(s) and Monitaly and find the Western audience it deserves – the pieces are something special, and it’s great to see brands looking beyond the usual suspects for inspiration.