I have already written about J.S.ART for a Japanese magazine, but I thought it was long overdue an introduction in English.  The concept of the brand is simple, but genius in and of itself and sure to pull at the heartstrings of any man who grew up watching old samurai films – Japanese armor crossed with leather jackets.  It is a unbelievable that no-one has thought of it before given that pretty much all obvious possibilities of Western biker and military jackets have been long played out, and yet no-one has brought the unique shapes, panels and leather techniques of arguably Japan’s most iconic item of male clothing to the modern age, that is until now.

The designer Takayuki Kato had cut his teeth in retail over at the high-end boutique Royal Flash in Ueno while studying design at fashion school, but frustrated with the distinct lack of Japanese spirit as he termed it in Japanese menswear – it being either led by Dior Homme or Japanese takes on American streetwear like Roen, Roar and Mastermind Japan at the time, he decided to enroll at the legendary Kagoshima armorers  Marutake after graduation.

From there he has learnt from and worked closely with the centuries of knowledge of Japanese armor that Marutake can lay claim to, working on the cutting and planning techniques, materials, leather treatments and so on, until he was ready to bring that over to Japanese streetwear as it stands today.  The references are fulfilling with aficionados of Japanese artisanal techniques likely pleased to spot Tokushima water snakeskin, acid washed brass and silver hardware using the same process as metal netsuke, and the overall form being packed with obvious and not so obvious design elements derived from traditional armor design.

At this point you are likely to be worrying that either the cost is too high (it isn’t – the price is in line with other high end domestic brands like Julius) or that it is a little too geeky or something of a costume to be worn.  Well, that is something you are going to have to decide for yourself, there are plenty of jackets with only one or two samurai armor references, but I thought we would take a good look at one that packs them in:

Check out the details below:

Now if that doesn’t make your inner Japanophile sing then there is something wrong with you.  For the record the workmanship is to the level you would expect from Marutake with the same silks and leathers used as they would in armor construction, and it goes without saying that these are all made in Japan from Japanese leather – the only exception being the crocodile that has to be imported.

Here you can see the aforementioned crocodile in all its glory in the two finishes J.S.ART offer – I love how the scales reference Japanese armor completely effortlessly all by themselves.

If you can’t stretch to a whole jacket, then there are a good range of accessories to chose from to add a bit of samurai flair to any outfit.

The designer admiring his work.

We are going to be having a look at the other side of this brand soon with a bit more of the context for the armor elements of the designs that will hopefully complete the picture nicely.  Till then, rest assured that it is going to be worth waiting for.

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12 Responses to J.S.ART – Samurai Armor meets Japanese Fashion

  1. brad-t says:

    WOW. These are amazing! I have a hard time believing this is cheaper than Julius with that level of detail and materials.

  2. Andrew says:

    If that jacket you highlighted is one of the most obviously Samurai-influenced ones the designer does, then I don’t think I’ll worry to much about it being costume-y. I think it looks amazing, and while the inspiration might look obvious while it’s hanging next to a real suit of samurai armor, I’d guess that even people who make the connection when they see it won’t feel that it looks trite. Trying to look at it from an uninitiated street observer’s POV, I think all the individual embellishments (extra long layer underneath, shoulder “plating,” arm guards, etc) look pretty worth of inclusion in and of themselves, regardless of where the inspiration came from. Looks pretty good on the designer himself anyway!

  3. brad-t says:

    Just checked out the pricing — I dunno man, from what I saw the low-end from this brand are priced like the higher end of Julius. Some of these jackets were easily $3000. Not that the price is unjustified.

  4. Samuel says:

    @ brad-t

    Fair enough, I have changed the text. I think it was because I covered the shop a couple of months ago and I had mentally reduced the prices since then! Wishful thinking perhaps!

    I will say that the prices on the crocodile pieces are high, but on the other hand, the quality of the leather is obscene and frankly if you are getting crocodile for less something is being sacrificed.

    Anyway, glad you liked it, I can’t believe I have sitting on this for so long!

    @ Andrew

    I think you are right, out of the context of the shop, the references aren’t quite so obvious. I would join the designer in wearing it with pride at any rate.

  5. Kai Shin says:

    How do I get my hands on one of these jackets? Do they ship overseas?

  6. Samuel says:

    @ Kai Shin

    At the moment they are preparing their online shop and I am afraid that they have no alternative online stockist – sorry!

    I know they do take orders from overseas on a case by case basis though, so my advice is to give them an email and see if they are willing to help.

    Hope you get what you want.

  7. Wim's says:

    When will it be available? Can you give me the website adress? Thanks. Great article BWT.

  8. Samuel says:

    @ Wim’s

    The only site is this blog that is very rarely updated:


    You are best to pay them a visit really especially as it is so close to Akihabara/Ochanomizu.

  9. […] courtesy of tokyotelephone.com Posted by Raygun Robyn on September 16, 2012. Filed under Couture, Headline. You can follow any […]

  10. […] J.S.Art – Samurai Armor meets Japanese fashion (Tokyo Telephone) […]

  11. Christopher Robin Miller says:

    I love these clothes! The Samurai elements are beautiful.

  12. hey guys, i just found the jackets today and i am in love … do you have mayby any news about it – online store, the website is bad … are the still in stock? thanks for your help!

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