Why I think Japanese tailors are the best in the world

June 23, 2016

The first thing strikes anyone who has ever engaged the services of a master tailor in Japan, especially in Osaka – is they don’t seem to be ever fixated on material….never.

Infact based on all my experience with Japanese master tailors – never once have I even been shown a piece of cloth.

They seem to order ONLY after establishing the terms and conditions of the tailoring criteria.

Never! Not even once! And it’s not unusual to visit a tailor who ever breaks this rule – I suspect it’s a sign of bad tailoring or maybe it’s taboo to do so.

I can only draw the logical conclusion that sort of tailoring culture may have alot to do with the importance of priotizing form followed by function and fit and finally carriage.

A bespoke Japanese tailor is always trained to observe how the client walks….moves…and even carries himself, it’s almost intuitive for them to such extent that the client is always conscious that he’s under a sort of sartorial panoptical cross examination whenever he walks into the establishment – where everyone from the master tailor right down to the apprentices and lowly cookie cutters – will literally drop what they are doing and simply observe the client as he moves around the shop…I don’t ever see this in London, Paris of even Milan….only AFTER a conclusion of sorts as close to reality is formed when these tailors discuss amongst themselves what’s the best suits the client – then and only then does choice of material feature…even then it’s only an adjunct to the specific goal to create the desired effect based on what the master tailor has to work with…style…fashion is yet to even feature….the focus is first and foremost on the balance between function and form.

Italians don’t ever do this…that may account for why they have to resort to mesmerizing their clients with their endless repertoire of fine cloth to attempt to hypnotize them – which could possibly supply an explanation why Italian suits only look good providing one stays still like a wax work or superglue yourself to a chair. The English are far more devious lot – they seem to always agree with the client even if it comes at the cost of crafting an awful suit which they always seem to excuse away as a ‘endearing’ – the only reason why Savile Row suits look dapper is simply because most British men prefer the buy one get another free at M&S. As for the French, they are the most conceited of the entire lot. As all they seem to do is way lyrical no end about elegance as if it’s some sort of philosophical abstraction that only they have the DNA to understand and everyone else doesn’t have the skill or experience to see thru their smoke and mirrors….which accounts for why to look dapper one needs to maintain their suits like finicky Continental sport cars, otherwise they look like dried cabbages.

But for the Samurai tailor – there’s an almost unalloyed purity of dedication, purpose and precision – as to how he approaches his pride and joy…the craft of tailoring…the suit ALWAYS looks good…even when you’re jumping out of planes – he always has the goal in mind….to create a product of incomparable excellence for the man of all seasons. As for the means to the end….Like the famous aphorism….don’t expect to go very far in life when you put the cart before the horse.

The samurai tailor seems to me…at least to be the only craftsman who abides religiously to this truism…wonder no more why they are truly the best and probably the most underrated tailors in the world when it comes to high quality bespoke suits.

One of the best known bespoke tailors was the late Hideo Takeshita – travel well my friend….a true Gentlemen…a samurai tailor.

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A conversation between a tailor and someone…perhaps anyone.

‘You’re not accustomed to walking on even pavements..I suspect you may even find walking in the city an all together strange affair (slight knowing smirk)…like an astronaut on the moon (laugh). Your gait is how should I say…slightly wider than usual to make up for the uneven terrain that you’re accustomed too.

So I wouldn’t recommend a single fold for your trousers…you should have it a full inch higher than usual like a bush jacket. I realize that’s a departure from the norm and may comes across as odd, but in your case I happen to believe that’s necessary, besides you will find that arrangement much more comfortable….besides you have impeccable taste when it comes to shoes…you should show them off…one inch up!

Just try to remember not to cross your legs whenever you sit down – that may look very odd.

I also notice you like to rest your right hand on the side of your hip…you’re accustomed to wearing heavy belts and you have a habit of carrying something weighty on that side…a side arm…a machete….that’s a bit complicated when it comes to tailoring suits….I may need to provision for two belt loops….again that may look odd…but I happen to believe it’s important for you…otherwise you will look loop sided in a full suit…better to break up the colors between the top and bottom half….and if you don’t mind me saying so, your shoes, they’re the heavy sort…English….with unusually thick soles complete with metal caps…you’re accustomed to walking in the wild with them…so I am going to tailor a hidden pocket for you…one with two belt straps like I said…may look odd Sir…but we will make it very discreet. This way when you walk, your trousers will never pull to one side and spoil the lines…it will always stay centered and it wouldn’t bite into your crotch.

Now to your shoulders. They are broader than most Japanese men – you’re definitely a someone who is used to jumping out of a plane in the morning and going to the opera wearing the same suit in the evening (sardonic laughter) – I noticed that the moment you stepped in, your left shoulder leans forward, you’re using your upper torso to balance yourself – you climb mountains?….maybe you used to carrying a back pack…I will accommodate that particularity by recommending wool mixed with spandex and double stitching with extra strong military thread…I know that’s very unusual, but silk doesn’t give unfortunately, it’s not for you….you see, it’s like a starched cloth…it will rip and we can’t have that – can we during a delightful evening in the opera….what will the ladies say? – besides if you don’t have something elastic that can give a little, your whole suit will have a tendency to go off center when you walk the way you do – may I recommend a small alteration to your shoes? The heel be slightly higher, that way when you lean forward when you walk, it doesn’t pull at the back of your trousers and the collar at the back will never crunch up – but if I make it like rubber then you can wear it like armor and it would never move from side to side, that should stop your lapels from crunching whenever you get up from a chair or sit down.

Oh by the way….may I have a look at your pocket knife. You’re carrying one aren’t you…I know it’s rude to be so forward..but really your tailor shouldn’t have located your secret pocket in your breast – see how it spoils the lines completely…see how it weighs down the cloth especially when you button your suit…may I suggest that you relocate the secret pocket under your left armpit – I will make it discreet….that way, you don’t spoil the lines or have to put up with unsightly bulges.

I don’t think we need to bother ourselves with looking at cloth…leave that to me…why don’t you come back for a second fitting next week.’

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