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I think I'm turning Japanese

How Oriental fashion is making denim waves across Europe.

The first time you might have seen Japanese influence in UK menswear was through Superdry, the British brand founded in 2003 whose denim washes were inspired by Japanese techniques. Superdry were perhaps better known for plastering Japanese text across their gear. If you’ve ever bought anything by the brand, it’s unlikely you knew what the text meant, but you could get more accurate Japanese by putting English into an early version of Google Translate.

The same year, Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto first collaborated with adidas on his Y-3 clothing and footwear line which has faded in, out and back into fashion again. For a period, it felt a bit like adidas were sticking a Y-3 logo on a track jacket and doubling the price. Over time, though, Yamamoto’s influence has permeated Y-3 collections. The clothes in his line are often black, long and sweeping oversized jackets and billowing trousers that cost thousands of pounds.

Japan has long exported incredible luxury clothing from brands like Commes Des Garçons and Visvim, but shopping for Japanese clothing in Europe proved tricky at times; whether or not clothing is affordable is often dictated by the strength of the Yen, and the Japanese sizing differs hugely from European or US convention, so buying off the internet is a minefield.

Earlier this year, webstore Mr Porter made a major statement with their presentation at London Fashion Week. The online retailer is one of the senior voices in the industry when it comes to deciding what’s coming next in men’s fashion, so its decision to showcase six of Japan’s hottest new designers spoke volumes. But what do we actually mean by Japanese clothing? And what difference will it make to any of the clothes you’re going to be buying in 2016?

Well, for one thing, Topman are starting to stock Japanese selvedge denim. Wait… what’s selvedge? Most of the world’s denim was once selvedge – meaning it was intricately woven on shuttle looms – but most countries slowly switched to cheaper, lower quality methods, which made jeans more affordable for the buyer. Selvedge denim uses strips of fabric that have their own edge – a self-edge, or selvedge – and thus prevents fraying or curling. Want to tell if it’s selvedge? Flip up the leg, and if there is a clean edge on the fabric by the seam, it’s selvedge.

With the British fashion industry now looking to Japan, expect to see a whole new take on menswear. Selvedge denim is just the start. 

For more on fashion and grooming, go to: dapperchapper.com

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