Japan is one of the most fascinating countries on earth; with a culture so complex, dense and unique that you could spend your life trying to unpick it. It also produces some of the most unusual, avant-garde and just straight-up dope clothing you can possibly find.
The downside to all that cultural madness is that it's hard to keep track of just exactly what's going on in the country. The Japanese media is very inward-looking, as are its brands, and there's a colossal language barrier to get through, too.
With that in mind, we're introducing Meanwhile In Japan, a new monthly column highlighting stuff you might have missed from one of the most important countries in street culture, conscious consumption and cool shit in general.
Here, we highlight Japanese publications worth checking out, new collections from covetable underground labels and pretty much anything else we think you'd be interested in, but which might have slipped under your radar.
Popeye's October Fashion Issue
Popeye recently celebrated its 40th anniversary with an amazing pack-in: a reproduction of their original Summer 1976 issue, and I ran into a pristine copy at the recent New York Art Book Fair (above).
Author W. David Marx covers the magazine's conception in his book Ametora, an essential read for any Japanese/Americana fashion nerd. And yes, he covers BAPE and the whole Ura-Hara retail movement, too.
What's interesting about the first issue is that the magazine got full approval from King Features Syndicate to use the cartoon sailor's name and likeness, so that's why they haven't been sued.
Their October issue is worth picking up because it does what Japanese fashion mags do best—make Americans look 10 times cooler than they actually are.
For any fall fit inspiration, the editorials are shot really well and the styling is, as usual, on point. Plus they have a way of making that whole "Ivy Style" thing seem relevant again.
Pick it up at your local Japanese bookstore or online at Magculture.
Bed J.W. Ford A/W 2016
Founded in 2011 by designers Shinpei Yamagishi and Keisuke Kosaka, Bed J.W. Ford is an underrated menswear label that just dropped its A/W 2016 collection.
The aesthetic is all over the place in a good way, mixing heritage-inspired staples with street-ready styles that play with proportion and drape in a way that appeals to Rick Owens and Acronym fans. They use really nice fabrics and tons of color.
The brand is seeping into shops like Haven at the moment. One of the early standouts is the Slash Trouser, which mixes a dressy flannel wool pant with the kind of sporty stripe details you'd find on a pair of trackies.
Guilty Parties Fall Delivery Pt. 2
Awesome cult Japanese label Wacko Maria has been on the radar of Instagram cool guys for a while now, and for people new to the brand it can be a little bit confusing to discern between the different sub-labels.
Heavily influenced by ’60s rockabilly vibes, there are two main collections: Guilty Parties and Wacko Maria.
Guilty Parties is known for its embroidered jackets with a strong vintage vibe, but there are plenty of bangers still coming from the brand, like the leopard print-lined oilcloth jacket pictured above.
Its Tokyo flagship store, Paradise Tokyo, plays rad records and serves a mean espresso. It also just received some brand new Guilty Parties items, like the corduroy jacket above that I'm currently lusting over.
Available in several colors and motifs, there are even matching pairs of pants, if you fancy doing double-corduroy this season.
Porter Classic Sashiko Collection
You may recognize Porter more for its slick and expensive bags (and the myriad of collaborations it does with everyone from Jun Takahashi of Undercover to Stone Island), but you shouldn't sleep on Porter Classic.
Established in 2007 by Katsuyuki "Katsu" Yoshida, scion of the Yoshida/Kaban Porter family, the line offers insanely well-made clothing (and is priced to match).
Of note is its recent capsule collection of gear made with sashiko cloth, the intricate artisan stitching method that gives certain Japanese fabric a hard-wearing texture.
Traditionally used in garments meant for everything from firefighting to Kendo practice, that means it's more than durable enough for whatever the average internet clothing enthusiast will do in it.
Cav Empt Sheepskin Bomber
Cav Empt (or C.E., whatever you'd like to call it) keeps the hits coming with its Fall/Winter 2016 collection.
Designed by BAPE and BBC vets Toby Feltwell and SK8Thing, the line mixes dystopian cyberpunk Philip K. Dick references with a fresh take on streetwear garms that feels especially relevant for our constantly-connected culture.
I'm surprised I haven't seen any of it on an episode of Mr. Robot yet, but I suppose Season 2 is just starting, so there's still time.
Cav Empt's take on the sheepskin bomber jacket mixes an oversized ’90s appeal with the brand's penchant for utilitarian style.
In a mean dark grey suede, this shearling can be worn with just about anything, and it's fully-lined for maximum warmth.
Unfortunately, broke bois need not apply. Should it strike your fancy, you can buy it for a whopping $2,158.
Medicom Style Up Be@rbrick Exhibition
The whole "art toy" movement seemed like something that never quite caught on, yet here we are in 2016, salivating over a $158 Medicom x Undercover Gilapple light with "Supreme" emblazoned on the side.
The Japanese toy company is celebrating its 15th anniversary with an impressive Hong Kong exhibition: Style Up Be@rbrick At Harbor City, featuring a staggering 37 designer collaborations on 2000% Be@rbricks. Each one stands about 1.4m tall.
The exhibition is on display from September 19 – October 16 in Hong Kong and features designs from Kenzo, Thom Browne, J.Crew, Moncler, Carven and Vivenne Westwood. So, it's quite the eclectic list.
If you want to own one of these giant pieces of plastic for yourself, it'll cost you roughly $8,800, but at least all of that will go to charity.
UNITED ARROWS & Sons creative director Motofumi "Poggy" Kogi is a street style icon that made a name for himself through his mixture of tailored clothing and streetwear, an aesthetic that characterizes the unique merchandising of his shop.
Recently, he teamed up with storied Japanese retailer Isetan during Tokyo Men's FES on Poggy's Box, a pop-up shop featuring exclusive items and collaborations.
The pop-up featured exclusive items like the Pigalle x Poggy tee featured above, and caps embroidered with "above the sartorial/street," the theme of the shop, and coincidentally, a good way to also describe Poggy's signature style.
Eagle-eyed fashion nerds may notice the caps' similarity to Supreme's recently released 2-Tone Illegal Business 6-panels, which share a striking resemblance to old Rage Against the Machine merch, according to cult Instagram account @supreme_copies.
Speaking of Japan, check out this next-level street style from Tokyo Fashion Week.