Writing in the WSJ, Tom Downey describes what he perceives as a new shift in the way that Japanese food, coffee, cocktails and fashion relates to the outside world; according to Downey, the ideal now combines the much-vaunted Japanese attention to detail and precise copying with a kind of remaking that produces a "replica" Brooklyn coffee that's better than the best coffee in Brooklyn, a "replica" vintage pair of jeans that look more vintage than the actual item, and so on. It's Baudrilliard's simulacra, with more denim and espresso.
"It's not so difficult to make something that's 100 percent the same as the original," he says. He holds up a heavy, metal zipper, American-made new old stock. "I've got 500,000 of these. Enough for the next 40 years.
"But the key isn't just getting the details right—it's knowing when to change things," Tsujimoto continues. "My style has to be an improvement: With 1 percent more here, 2 percent less there, we create something that looks better. You have to change the fit because all these classic garments were designed with extra room to carry tools or weapons."
He takes a deerskin-lined flight jacket off the rack and points out the colorful American military design stitched onto the back. He passes me what appears to be a standard-issue '50s-style gray cotton sweatshirt until I actually touch the thing. The heft of the loop-wheeled cotton makes it the thickest, heaviest sweatshirt I've ever felt.
Made Better in Japan
(Image: downsized crop from a photograph by Tung Walsh)
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