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StyleForum Visits Kamakura

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Teger, Sep 25, 2013.

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  1. Teger

    Teger Senior member

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    [​IMG]

    When I was given the opportunity to travel to New York City to cover Capsule, there was one store on the top of my must visit list: Kamakura Shirts. Like so much of my menswear knowledge, I first learned of the brand on StyleForum, and I was intrigued at the prospect of a new shirt maker in America that offered affordable and well-styled shirts.

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    Founded in 1991 by Yoshido Sadusue, the brand tries to replicate the classic 1960s Ivy League Style epitomized by the Brooks Brothers oxford cloth button down, the staple of college campuses all across the East Coast. From their tiny shop – it’s really very small – on Madison Avenue in the Upper East Side, Kamakura sells Made in Japan shirts starting at $79 (cheaper than many shirts sold by Brooks Brothers today). The styles range from basic, standard oxford cloths to unique summer pique shirts that are an interesting combination of a polo shirt and a button-down.

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    I visited early in the morning on a weekday, and the store was quiet and relaxed. The staff was friendly, polite and knowledgeable, and was eager to make suggestions. I also appreciated that they kept a number of try on shirts on hand, allowing me to avoid the awkward “let me just open this sealed shirt to give it a go...” dilemma you find in many clothing stores.

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    I am a particular fan of their classic oxford cloth button down. Produced in casual, royal and pinpoint oxford cloths (covering pretty much every level of formality), they feature a substantial collar roll with long points and a pronounced arch as well as thick mother-of-pearl buttons. The workmanship is top notch with precise and neat stitching and a high stich per inch count and the fabrics feel luxurious at every price point. The buttonholes, while machine sewn, are neat and sturdy.

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    Beyond their oxford cloth button downs, Kamakura sells a varied selection of shirts. While I normally only wear button-down collars, I tried on shirts featuring classic spreads, wide spreads and Italian cutaways, and they also carry a line-up of formal shirts appropriate for black and white tie. The shirts come in four different fits in varying degrees of slimness. The slimmest fit is the “Tokyo Slim Fit” and is a slim fit with a pronounced V-shape and back darts. It is much slimmer than both Brooks Brothers extra-slim fit and Charles Tyrwhitt slim fits. The next step down is the “Tokyo Classic Fit,” which, will still slim, has less of a taper. For the American market they also developed two new fits, “New York Slim Fit” and “New York Classic Fit,” which are much closer to standard American dress-shirt sizing. Important to note is that Kamakura cuts their shirt with the assumption that they will be machine dried, and leaves a fabric allowance to account for shrinkage. If you plan on hang drying or dry cleaning, you can most likely size down. Although I’m a standard 16.5/35, when trying on shirts I found that the 16/35 fit well. For non-dress shirts, I found a large in the Tokyo Slim Fit is equivalent to a medium in most American brands.

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    Kamakura also recently unveiled their in-shop made-to-measure program. Shirts cost $180 – a price that includes Thomas Mason fabrics – with a turn around of 45 days. They also carry a more luxurious shirt line, the “300 Club,” which features shirts made of higher-quality fabrics and higher thread counts. While I didn’t have an opportunity to try one on, the fabrics were delicate to the touch, and the stitching looked similar to that found in extremely high-end Italian brands.

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    Since my visit, Kamakura has expanded their stock with a range of limited edition oxford cloth button downs commemorating the upcoming first-year anniversary of the New York store, as well as a line of vintage Ivy styled shirts in collaboration with Graham Marsh. While back in Japan Kamakura sells a full lineup of suiting, in America their shirts are only joined by a small selection of accessories. I got to see bowties, ties and cufflinks, and all fit in well with the store’s overall Ivy aesthetic. The store also carries a small selection of women’s clothing.

    If you don’t live in New York, or don’t travel there regularly for Capsule, their shirts are available online. The website also includes detailed and accurate sizing charts
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    Last edited: Sep 25, 2013
    5 people like this.
  2. Jr Mouse

    Jr Mouse Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Great write up. I'm loving what I have seen from this brand so far.
     
  3. Louys

    Louys Senior member

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    My kamakura OCBD is my favorite shirt. I just wish they would put out a larger variety of patterns. Variations on pale blue and white a rotation does not make.
     
  4. poorsod

    poorsod Senior member

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    The price point for their stuff is really good. They have a handful of 120s 2x2 in the Thomas Mason book that look like good value. They also have seasonal ties at their store that aren't available online.
     
  5. iris

    iris Active Member

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    I have one of their standard OCBDs ($79, front shirt pocket, a bit more business appropriate) and one of their "knit shirt" OCBDs ($99, no shirt pocket, slightly more casual, but extremely comfortable) and they're my favourite OCBDs by a considerable margin. You'd be hard-pressed trying to find a better Price/Value OCBDs in the market.
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. dusttruffle

    dusttruffle Senior member

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    would love to get one. but unless i am wrong none of the measurements seem to fit my BBESF 16x34 type of size (preferably with a shorter 17.5-18 inch yoke).
    Closest it seems would be the "vintage ivy" tokyo fit Large -
    but i would be nervous that whilst the chest measurement is 43.5 - (which i think would be ok for my 40" chest) - their chart reads "your chest =
    36 1/2 - 38 1/2​
    "

    great write up teger
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2013
  7. alexSF

    alexSF Senior member

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    The size chart of the vintage ivy is totally off in inches, the correct one is the chart in cm.
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2013
  8. ScottMC

    ScottMC Senior member

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    Which fit would be closest to a Ralph Lauren Custom Fit OCBD, The Tokyo Classic, or the New York Slim? Thanks.
     
  9. dusttruffle

    dusttruffle Senior member

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    thanks. all their size charts seem to be insistent that the chest measurement of the shirt is eight inches more than the chest measurement of the person wearing it.
    It is just that i have a gross misunderstanding of fit (i usually aim for a shirt with +3 "-> 3.5" larger in the chest - and the waist for that matter - and i dont even go for the super slim look!)? Also do new yorkers either have disproportionate long arms? [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2013
  10. alexSF

    alexSF Senior member

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    If could help, New york fit size M pit to pit is 21,5", tokyo fit size L is 22"
    Sleeves from shoulders seam NY 26, Tokyo 24,75
    The tokyo is 0,5 inch longer.

    I own the new york and the tokyo is coming from a forum member.

    Compare the measurements above to charts and you can find how the chart in inches it totally wrong

    I found it very tapered not "slighty tapered" at least compared to BB ESF (15,5 - 34)
    The large yoke makes the sleeve longer, and considering the very large cuffs it's very difficult to find the correct sleeve size, they are better suited for rolled up sleeves.

    In the Classic OCBD consider that you could size down on sleeves from half to one inch due to large yoke.
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2013
  11. dusttruffle

    dusttruffle Senior member

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    thanks. much appreciated.
     
  12. adam-r8

    adam-r8 Well-Known Member

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    Those shirts look fantastic! Definitely going to look into adding a couple to my rotation, thanks for the introduction!
     
  13. Joffrey

    Joffrey Senior member

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    Im in the market for some new shirts and ties so will try to stop in the next time im in NY
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2013
  14. Stefan88

    Stefan88 Senior member

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    If I remember correctly, their shirts were around 5000 yen for the standard ones in Japan.
     
  15. jrd617

    jrd617 Senior member

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    I've noticed that Kamakura shirts have less material in the front on the shirt, and are very roomy in the back. Does anyone else notice this?
     
  16. Teger

    Teger Senior member

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    I had to have my OCBD darted in the back a little bit, but that's true for really any shirt I buy OTR, so...

    Definitely a good slim fit in the chest/shoulders though.
     
  17. landscapes

    landscapes Well-Known Member

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    I almost never buy things at retail but these are quite tempting.
     
  18. TonioKroger

    TonioKroger Well-Known Member

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    There's a reason everybody is so excited about the Kamakura shirts-- they're amazing. But I don't think that's why they're being talked about all the time. Nope. It's something else. It's because they have an *identity*. What do I mean? Read on...

    For years, we've all been spending 100 bucks to buy some corporate committee's flaccid version of the once-great Brooks Brothers shirt. We've seen Land's End - which, let's face it, was always second rate- get even worse by chopping their collar down to a fashionable nub. We've been sending away to David Mercer for baggy, 80's style, shirts which, however nice they are, start at $135 for anything besides oxford cloth--- and rise considerably from there. Same with Gitman and O'Connell's. J. Crew? Gant? Come on. These are throwaway offerings created for people who have never worn a shirt made with care.

    I can already hear people saying "Well, what about Luxire and Paris and all those bespoke places...?", but that brings me right back to my original point; the oxford cloth button down shirt is the quintessential off the rack shirt and it should NOT be made in some fancy bespoke place. American manufacturers created the popularity of the button down shirt in all its common-place, casual greatness. The shirts had an identity; they were affordable, relaxed but smart, and at the height of their popularity they defined a real American egalitarian ideal--- *everyone* could have access to the same great, classic look.

    So let's start with a review of the shirts: first off, they are made beautifully- someone cares about the stitching, the shell buttons-- and for once the damn collar rolls!!! The fabrics are either great workhorse oxford cloths or nice day-to-day pinpoints (*my favorites...though I don't own any broadcloths.) Though they do offer Made to Measure and 300 count shirts, the great thing about the shirts at Kamakura is that they are your everyday shirt- but done with old fashioned care and style and workmanship. All somehow in a shirt that is under $80!! (PS- Their knit oxford pique shirt is one of the most comfortable things I own and no one has yet guessed it isn't cloth.)

    But- and here's my point if anyone is still reading- Kamakura is doing well not only because their product is good. It's because they re-embody a lot of the ideals that started the popularity of the button down in the first place. They haven't just "Frankenstein-ed" the best parts of historically great shirts together (the way most other makers have done). Instead,they've made shirts that have an IDENTITY ALL THEIR OWN. They have re-imagined the traditional American button down and come up with THEIR version; somewhat slimmer, more precise, neat without being fashion-y and topped it off with a grand collar that frames the neck and face.

    So why am I posting this long speech? I'm selfish. I want to buy shirts from this place for a long, long time. I want them to do well so they'll have more patterns available and bring in the jackets and other products I see they sell in their Japanese stores. Also, when is the last time you went into a tiny store in Manhattan and had the sales people offer you Japanese desserts, iced water or ran to hold the door as you left?
     
  19. in stitches

    in stitches Senior member Moderator

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    been meaning to try them out for a while. great write up tegs, you may have pushed me over the edge. :)
     
  20. Verniza

    Verniza Senior member

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    Looks good but the sizing guide is a whole new ball game.

    Will probably wait for more information and reviews on sizing.
     

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