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How To Rock Japanese Workwear Like A Global Local


Wherever you drop your pin, that’s home. It’s a big world out there, and there’s no end of new styles you need to cop from all over. But why be a trend follower, when you can express your hyper-globalised, authentic self, in a way that’s totally true to you?


As any fashion-forward dreamer knows, Japan is the ultimate shop-till-drop destination – “Oh, this? I just picked it up in Harajuku last month” has been the ultimate mic-drop for decades. This year, the must-have item for the true individual in-the-know, is not a standard logo t-shirt – or even some avant garde black suit with four arms.


No – it’s a traditional working class jacket called the hanten. Supreme have made a version with Tokyo brand Sasquatchfabrix, and Visvim have a padded one out too. But rather than just take it from the mouths of the skate brands, Perrier went deep into the underground, to get to know this new approach to dressing from a true insider. We spoke with Tokyo-London menswear guru Tatsuo Hino about the Japanese cultural significance of the hanten. Because maybe the best thing to make yourself feel like no-one else on your feed, is to sling on something that tells a real story for once.


How do hantens relate to other Japanese clothing archetypes?


It’s a poor man’s kimono basically. A expensive kimono used to be made in silk, but the hanten is for working class people, so it’s made of cotton, and in winter, they use wadding or padding to bulk it up, so there’s a bit of insulation as well. Also the shape itself is quite a common in feudal society, so if you see an indigo dyed archive Hanten, like sort the fire service used to wear, which you can still get, it sells for quite a ridiculous amount of money nowadays.


Is it the sort of thing that you or I would put on in Tokyo in our day-to-day life?


It’s a quite common thing, but it’s not something that’s been re-interpreted so much. It’s not known as a style, it’s something people wear on a day-to-day basis and forget about. Workwear is really a fundamental movement in menswear, so it’s natural young Japanese menswear designers coming up now revisit Japan’s traditional workwear.


Have you noticed in recent months and years an interest in more explicitly traditional Japanese cuts and designs?


Hantens have traditionally been worn for three centuries or something like that. We still wear them if you’re staying at a traditional hotel, you’ll get a padded version to wear! So with Sasquatchfabrix, the designer is reflecting old Japanese streetwear, but in a more contemporary way, and using the old Japanese techniques, in terms of the shape and the fabric and the form of the garments. They use a lot of sashiko embroidery.


For 40 years, high fashion has looked to Japan, and for 20 years, streetwear has also. Yet this is the first time that a traditional Japanese garment is making its way out through those channels.


Breaking the mould is important, with the reach of the internet, you can buy from anywhere – there’s a world of people into this sort of thing, so people can be more adventurous. There’s a cult, like a young generation always looking for something Japanese.


Have you any recommendations for other great labels or styles?


There’s a great brand called Needles, who deconstruct, and reconstruct. It’s based on the ideology of boro, it’s basically workwear, so people who were poor, and couldn’t afford new clothes, just repair things and patch them up. Needles sometimes buy old garments to put them together and re-do it, to make them look brand new. That approach is really popular nowadays.


Now you’re ready and armed with the knowledge of what the hanten really means. So the next time someone at the bar tells you they like your style, smile in the knowledge that good style can’t be bought.