“We never thought we would work in the fashion industry; we were not cool types at all,” says Naoyuki Kurahashi, managing director of The Reracs. The Tokyo men’s and womenswear label is run by Naoyuki and his wife Naomi, who have grown the business over the past seven years despite neither having any formal training in fashion.
They both grew up in the small coastal city of Hamamatsu, Shizuoka, and had little interest in fashion until they saw photos of Helmut Lang and Raf Simons in a magazine one day while in high school. “We didn’t know what it was about them but we were struck by them,” says Naoyuki.
Both went on to study system engineering at university but in their spare time they pored over clothes. “We were obsessed with fashion, saving money to buy clothes – high-fashion, vintage and military. And we studied how they were made,” says Naomi, who is now the brand’s designer.
The Reracs was launched by Naomi in 2010; Naoyuki joined three seasons in. Their autumn/winter collection includes crisp shirts sewn from Italian fabrics, reinterpreted British peacoats made from custom-developed threads, and minimalist, roomy Chesterfield overcoats. “We study the archives, deconstruct traditional styles and see if we can bring anything new to modernise them,” says Naomi, adding that all their pieces are made in Japan.
Today the brand boasts more than 80 wholesale clients across the country, including United Arrows and Beams, and has just opened its first shop-cum-showroom in a former apartment near Harajuku, in Tokyo. “Anyone can come and try on our garments but we only have samples here, we don’t actually sell anything. We guide them to our e-commerce website or introduce them to our stockists,” says Naoyuki. “The space showcases our concept; we thought this would be a new business model.”
Luxurious fabrics and classic designs abound in Zanini’s clothing collection for the Milan shoemaker.
Set up by a pair of savvy Italians in 2015, abcl relies on Japanese textiles for its casual line of shirts, trousers and jackets for men. Co-owner Antonio Laverda works from Tokyo, where the brand assembles its vegetable-dyed shirts using selvedge-striped cotton and other fabrics woven on old-fashioned looms.
His partner Mattia Cavinato, meanwhile, oversees production of trousers and jackets in Italy’s Veneto region. There, the label uses chambray shirting cloth to make lightweight trousers and creates five-button deconstructed jackets in cotton gabardine inspired by 1940s clothes once worn by Venetian craftsmen.
“I start by choosing the fabrics; from there I develop the collections,” says Zürich-based designer Anna Nia, who launched her own label in 2015 after a stint as creative director at womenswear brand En Soie. She has a loyal following for her elegant women’s coats, dresses and trousers made from premium Swiss and Italian fabrics and last year opened a shop in Zürich’s old town.
“The sensuality of leather is the definition of luxury for me,” says Max Koenig, who runs this London-based accessories brand. His debut collection spans totes, clutches, wallets and bag tags. Many pieces are brightly coloured and all are sewn from sumptuous, organic calf leather in an Istanbul factory that has been in the same family for five generations.
Lindberg, the Aarhus eyewear maestro, has sculpted a capsule collection of specs that are part wood and part buffalo horn. The “Made in Aarhus” line includes a dark, circular ebony-wood frame and a tan number made with padouk. While wooden frames can sit a little heavy, the wood-horn blend means that these beauties are lightweight and flexible.
“At an outfitter you’d buy your clothes, provisions, find men for an expedition; outfit yourself for the entire adventure. In a way that’s The Lost Explorer,” says David de Rothschild, founder of this lifestyle and menswear label. You can pick its goods (jackets, bags, lip balm, mezcal) at its LA flagship.
Most famous for its fur-lined parkas, historic Pennsylvanian outerwear company Woolrich is making its first foray into footwear. The collection is inspired by both the city – in the form of some natty leather trainers – and the great outdoors, typified by these mountain-ready boots. All are made in Italy and boast sturdy Vibram soles.
Sigurd Bank’s designs are big, bold – and short. “I like to crop the fit so the relaxed look isn’t slouchy,” he says. Made in Italy, Turkey and Portugal, they are stocked by the likes of LA’s County Ltd and Copenhagen’s Street Machine.
Northern Irish designer Jonathan Anderson is bringing British flair to our favourite Japanese high-street label. Cuffed chinos come with subtle pocket stitching and there are eccentric touches (a tote in scarlet puffer-jacket fabric) but everything in this ode to British heritage is pleasingly functional.
Souvenir shop Brigitte Tanaka is the work of Parisienne Brigitte Giraudi and Chieko Tanaka from Tokyo (pictured, Tanaka on left), who gather accessories, clothes and knick-knacks inspired by their home countries. Some are antiques but many are their own pieces created by repurposing items.
The tiny shop, inside Paris’s 17th-century St Roch Church, is furnished with antique cabinets displaying crystal earrings and pendants that the pair crafted from rare gold coins. Upstairs you’ll find a seamstress embroidering names onto cashmere socks, kimonos and cotton totes.