Friday, December 11, 2009

Fit: Japanese vs North America, and the 70's






In case it isn't obvious, I started this blog to share my passion for vintage leather. I also decided it was a great way to share my rather isolated tale of 20 years in the vintage clothing business and my dream to get back into "making clothing". I started in design selling street fashions of my own creation in the early 90s to support my "art habit". Since then I traveled down an awkward road retracing the steps of both my grandfathers: one an artist and one a "Schmata Man".
Back when I was a kid clothing was all made in North America by people like my Grandfather. If you were Jewish, either your parents or your grandparents were most likely in the clothing business. It was a past marked by a secretive love-hate relationship. In the 1920s there was no where else for Jew's to work..I hear the stories over and over. But that's not what this post is about..its about the 70s to now. Part of the reality of the clothing business back in the day was the off shore production of North American companies. Long before China, Japan was the "go to" place to save money and move your manufacture. I remember my adolescence and the strange effect of this shift to Asia for clothing production. All of a sudden shirts and pants started to fit "funny". My 6 foot 2 180 lb frame would wear clothing and the sleeves would be too short or the neck was too narrow. I attributed this to puberty, where as in reality it was about fit. Japanese people are skinny, fit and smaller then 1970s North Americans. Since that time..the Japanese are still skinny and fit...and "fatness" has boomed here. With the fat boom has come the "bag boom" and clothing is made like giant sacks. It would seem that the average North American has not only lost their shape but lost the ability to even understand the concept of "fit".
I am amazed how in developing my leather jackets how difficult fit is. I am also amazed at the difference my Japanese friends who try on my jackets and my Canadian friends. Canadians try them on and marvel at the apparent quality of the materials and the look of the jacket. My Japanese friends instantaneously understand not just the materials, but the stitching, zippers and the language of fit. My anonymous friend in the photos explained so eloquently to me about my jacket "this is a one t-shirt jacket, not a two t-shirt jacket, the fit is excellent!". He of course gave me some advice with which to tweak the fit. My hope is that one day everybody understands the beauty of fit, cut, material and quality!