AREWU: How long have you been blogging for?
JM:This personal blog has existed for about one year.
AREWU: On the topic of blogging what are your views on copy and pasting (regurgitated information)?
JM:Curation is arguably the most cliche term in fashion, but at a certain level it’s a legitimate concept. There are too many garments, aesthetics, styles, etc, in existence for the casual observer to sift through; people need filters. As long as it’s implicitly understood that on the food chain of style creativity, I hold myself as a blogger fairly low.
AREWU: These pieces that you blog, are these potentially items you would wear yourself or already own?
JM:There are certainly things I put up that I lust after, but my own style is really simple; jeans, oxford button downs, etc.
AREWU: The blog shows a lot of resource some what cannot be found on google, so how exactly do you do it?
JM:That’s the whole motivation for me: most of the labels, designers, or styles I’m covering get at least superficial coverage on established/incorporated blogs. What I’m trying to offer is just a deeper look. It just takes time, a willingness to explore, and an awesome RSS feed.
AREWU: Your in depth knowledge and interest in Japanese fashion forced us to contact you, where and when did it start?
JM:I’m far from unique in that regard – trendhunting in Japan is biggest cliche ever. My interest grew out of Japanese denim. Selvage denim is just another marketing phrase now, but there was a time when it was still a definite subculture. In those early days I just got into researching it, and then later, seeing what people were posting on Superfuture denim threads. It also ties into my obsession with subcultures. I take them at an anthropological level, like studying tribes defined by styles. Japanese fashion isn’t the only style subculture that I think is interesting; 1980’s/90’s football hooligan style, or sapeurs in the Congo also have a lot of depth.
AREWU: We have been followers of Sasquatchfabrix for some time now with each season becoming more and more solid. What are your thoughts on the brand?
JM:I could say a lot about Sasquatchfabrix, but the summary is that the label takes some street inspiration from the past few decades, and filters them in a really unique, polished way. Also, while each collection has unifying threads, Sasquatchfabrix seems to work in really interesting non sequiturs, like with the boxing warm-up pants in the Zenarchy collection. This Spring, the EOTOTO collection works in the Native American inspiration as well as anyone in the business, and the Zenarchy collection just has so many quirky interesting things about it.
From a business perspective, it’s interesting to see how much recognition in Europe and the US the label is getting, after LN-CC picked it up.
AREWU: What are your views on so many of these small Japanese brands emerging? We feel like you are more drawn to the exclusivity of brands?
JM: Japan is a uniquely supportive environment for small brands that have either a fanatical devotion to high quality, or brands that develop really unique aesthetics. The consumer there has a higher price point tolerance and more willingness to buy into provenance.
There is obviously a growing artisan/craftsmanship movement in the States too, but the sense of creative freedom isn’t quite there – many people in the States are making product that is aimed at fitting into a defined customer safezone. I don’t fault anyone for this – people have to make a living, and the constraints come from having to make what US customers will actually buy. It’s just a little less interesting to look at.
AREWU: Finally, Who is James McNally and who is the reader?
JM: I’m just a guy who works for a digital media agency; I’m trying to build expertise about how to position niche brands and help retailers/ brands use the web well. And readers? Beyond what Google Analytics tells me, I have no idea who the reader is. I’m not catering to anyone’s taste but my own.
We asked James to give us a quick run down on a few pieces that have caught his eye so far this year.
2. This rider’s jacket from Unused. Over the past year or so, the rider jacket has become more or less a requirement for a certain group of labels, but Unused did it really well with unique touches, combining textiles. Just the right number and combination of zips and pockets, and great color. Plus riri zippers are always great.
3. These pants from the Sasquatchfabrix Zenarchy collection. It’s just super interesting to see the boxing inspiration show up so undiluted. And it works.
4. This vest by Blackmeans. It’s one of the more full-blown examples of the Native American influence, which is obviously the dominant theme for so many brands right now. This piece is so over the top with it that it almost reminds me of Mongolian clothing. Blackmeans makes some really amazing stuff, which doesn’t get much attention.
5. Needles (along with the whole Engineered Garments/Nepenthes family) is doing tons of great stuff, these shirts are just one example. The pattern evokes classic dye work, but is also so unique.
6. These pants by Aldies. They are lightyears ahead of the US market. But they represent a really interesting emerging trend, which broadly speaking is the combination of hippy/psychedelica and mountaineering styles. Aldies is just one of a few labels who are creating items for a fictional character who might have been an early 1970’s hippy who loved rock climbing. Whether or not this permeates the US market is one of the main things I’m looking at now.
Check out James’s blog
for a burst of inspiration.