Channel Japan On Kamakura Shirts

This morning Kamakura Shirts alerted us to this recently produced, 11-minute, English-language TV profile of the company. It’s very interesting for its business and manufacturing insight, and if you’ve already become a fan of Kamakura, I think you’ll enjoy learning more about the great value and attention to detail that goes into its shirts. — CC

34 Comments on "Channel Japan On Kamakura Shirts"

  1. Well made and comfortable, to be sure.

    Still, I wish the button down collars were unlined and about a half inch longer.

  2. And I wish they actually carried a size that fits me.

  3. The buttonholes seem too narrow and a bit slitty to my mind.

  4. What makes them unique is the price. I wonder how long they’ll remain $79.

    The shrinkage is an issue on the oxfords; so, if they really want to go for the shape of the classic Brooks oxford, they might consider a pattern that’s larger than the New York Classic, which is presently their largest.

  5. A.E.W. Mason | October 17, 2013 at 7:27 pm |

    Thank you for the video. Very enjoyable and informative. I liked what the owner was wearing as well as his message. The spread collar looked great on him and, as we recently addressed the subject of “natural selection,” I’d say the shoulders of his jacket were very nice and natural indeed. I note the jacket also had side vents. Personally, I don’t mind side vents on certain jackets. However, I’ve always thought that the classic American business shirt had a pocket; maybe even a J. Press flap pocket.

    The reviews here have been consistently good. So, the next shirt I buy will be a Kamakura.

  6. has anyone ordered these shirts? i am curious as to what the customs and import duty charges are on shipping to the US

  7. There’s a good reason why the Kamakura shirt is so popular- they have an identity. They haven’t just “Frankenstein-ed” the best parts of historically great shirts together (the way most other makers have done). Instead, they’ve re-imagined the American button down and come up with THEIR version; somewhat slimmer, more precise, neat without being fashion-y and topped it off with a grand collar that frames the neck and face. The fact that they are made with great, work-a-day fabrics, built with care and precision, and sold inexpensively makes the company and the shirt seem like some throw back to another time period where businesses tried to impress their customers, not cheat them.

    I can already hear people saying “Well, what about Luxire and Paris and all those bespoke places…or David Mercer’s?”, but that brings me right back to my original point; the oxford cloth button down shirt is the quintessential off the rack shirt and it should NOT be made in some fancy bespoke place. American manufacturers created the popularity of the button down shirt in all its common-place, casual greatness. The shirts were affordable, relaxed but smart, and at the height of their popularity they defined a real American egalitarian ideal— *everyone* could have access to the same great, classic look.

    Also, those knit shirts are classics…at first they appear to be royal oxford, or a rich oxford cloth and, after many washes now, they’ve softened up to be my favorite shirts…

  8. There was no reason whatsoever for the OCBD to be re-imagined.

    If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

  9. Richard Meyer | October 18, 2013 at 6:26 am |

    Again, no offense, but shouldn’t we promote American shirt companies: Mercer, Troy Guild, US made BB etc.?

  10. @Richard Meyer

    My Brooks Bros., Lamds’ End, and L.L. Bean OCBDs are all made in Malaysia, a factory town in New England, I assume.

  11. Kudos to those American manufacturers who make a good product and sell it at an honest price.

    I’ve nothing against retail. (okay, that’s not true. A lot of retail is stomach turning). But a lot stuff gets marked up before it hits the shelf.

    The problem, as always, is the broker. And the “stylists.”

    Mercer is to be applauded. When you buy a Mercer shirt, you buy it directly–from the same people (well, man) who oversees the buying of the cloth and the making of the shirts. This is true of Kamakura: the makers own the shops. No middle man. This is likely why they can sell the shirt at $79. Should they become yet another among many shelf brands at retail shops (note the history of Quoddy), watch the price go sky high.

    But do we say about the shirts that cost (wholesale) about $40 and are then marked up to $150 and higher? Come. On.

  12. I reminded of something I heard a long while ago and I believe: the really “good stuff” back in the day–whether shirts (Troy, for certain) or suits or jackets (Norman Hilton, for instance) or outerwear or shoes or…–was expensive because the quality was top drawer. The best cloth, and commendable craftsmanship. Goods that were expensive to begin with–the maker’s price. Wholesale. These days, we deal with something sinister: cheaply made goods ‘marked up’ by retailers.

  13. They seem like nice shirts, but the fact that they’ve partnered with a plagiarist for their latest project is a big turn-off.

  14. James Redhouse | October 18, 2013 at 11:18 am |


    Pardon my ignorance, but who is the plagiarist they’ve partnered with?

    Thanks in advance for your reply.

  15. This has been addressed on the site before and I’ve no wish to drag it up again. It may very well have been THE OTHER GUY anyway.

  16. I really like Kamakura but there’s nothing wrong with the BB ocbd!!!
    BB still sells it in trad, regular, slim and extra slim in a bunch of great colors too. If you MUST have an unlined collar… BB made to measure offers that option too.

    I’m afraid that with all these ocbd new options we are forgetting about one of the few things that BB still makes right.

    With the discounts these shirts come out to $55 a piece for 3. You can’t beat that, that’s $22 less than Kamakura… Also according to the manager at my BB these shirts could cease production at anytime… He told me yesterday that he checks the availability on them and every year Brooks sells less and less of them

    I’m proud to buy my BB’s OCBDs
    Support USA made shirts!!

  17. Agreed Jazz Man, I think now that they offer must-iron shirts made abroad the writing is on the wall.

    Get ’em before they’re gone

  18. If i was able to post photos to this site I could well show you what is wrong with the Brooks Brothers shirt.

    First off, I just washed my newly purchased Brooks Bros. Egyptian cotton shirt. Expensive. The collar immediately developed huge bubbles where it has separated from the fusing (I’m assuming that’s what happened…). There is no roll to the sad, mingy collar anyway, which I am happy about for once because I wouldn’t want to draw any more attention to its bubbles…

    The shirt- and the Brooks oxford as well, is fine, I guess, but it seems like *any* good design that has been compromised, altered, whittled away at: it lacks the original cohesion now. The shirt is a compromise and looks it, thereby, in my opinion, negating Lafcadio’s statement, “If it ‘aint broke, don’t fix it.”

    And as for “There was no reason whatsoever for the OCBD to be re-imagined.”- I couldn’t disagree more. If you mean there is no reason for anything more in life than a Brooks Brothers oxford cloth button down, then you are forgetting the incessant changing they’ve done themselves to it over the years. Not one of the big, venerable companies that produced Ivy clothing believed in such stasis. Brooks innovated the use of synthetics, later on- the non-iron shirt, the varieties of slim and extra slim sizing, as well as countless changes to their supposedly never changing imitated shirt…(ever see those ones from the 80’s and 90’s with the tiny collars?…remember no collar linings?…things always change, is my point).

    And change isn’t just a Brooks Brothers thing, it’s an “every manufacturer of clothing” thing. Button downs by Arrow were different than Gant and those were different than Towncraft…etc, etc…

    And so, it’s in that spirit that I am interested in Kamakura- they want to make handsomely crafted oxford shirts for less? Sounds great. In fact, it’s a very *traditional* idea…

  19. Somewhere there’s a picture of JFK and Chester Bowles. A study of contrast. In this instance, a stiff, straight collar (JFK’s) may be compared and contrasted with Bowles’ shirt, featuring a long, unkept button down collar. The roll just ‘happens’ because it’s unlined and long.

    Kamakura nailed the collar shape, as well as the tie space, which is relatively wider. But the lining and the length are such that I’m not entirely sure it’s fair to compare/contrast them with the Heyday-era OCBDs. Still, a nice shirt.

  20. Jdemy

    I have kamakura shirts – they don’t billow like my brooks brothers shirts – also we are taking about the OCBD from Brooks that are made in the USA – not that Egyptian cotton that you bought.
    Brooks. Brothers made in the USA OCBD’s are great shirts – if you want them just like they made them 25 years ago then get them at BB m2m.
    The whole reinventing the OCBD thing seems like you been drinking the Kamakura PR cool-aid. The Brooks OCBD and the Mercers shirts are still King.

  21. And for the record – I like my shirts to billow!

  22. ” Somewhere there’s a picture of JFK and Chester Bowles. A study of contrast”

  23. Jazz Man-

    I am unaware of what PR Kool-Aid there is regarding Kamakura. Since it would be rude to suggest that your predilection for Brooks Brothers is the result of decades of their “Kool-Aid” cultishness, I will leave it as a difference of opinion.

    To my mind, off the rack Brooks Brothers shirts are more expensive, less well-made, have insubstantial collars and plastic buttons, and fused collars. Kamakura shirts have shell buttons, are precisely stitched, have robust collar rolls, and have lined, but unfused, collars.

    Nonetheless, if you like the current Brooks offering, you like them. I prefer a fit that is closer to the Ivy oxford cloth button downs of the other manufacturers of the heyday.

  24. Speaking of Japanese-made button downs, does anybody have an idea how one might go about buying one of those Tailor Caid BB 50’s oxford button downs?

  25. We all know that when we’re speaking of “Brooks Brothers shirts” we’re specifically talking about the Made in the USA (Garland, NC) must-iron 100% supima cotton shirts yes? I’m fairly certain those are lined but not fused, is this correct?

    I only bring this up because it seems like some of the harshest critics in this discussion are talking about different shirts…

  26. DCG
    You are correct – I seems some are including every shirt BB makes into the conversation. We are specifically talking about the suprima OCBDs made in NC. T

    Most of us know very well that these when bought in 3’s are much less expensive, provide much better fit options, have IMO better collars than what Kamakura is doing.

    Don’t get me wrong is cool that we have Kamakura – but this whole thing about reinventing the ocbd etc… Is just internet fantasy.

  27. One among the more legendary hours in button down history. Buckley’s, as usual, is a wrinkled mess. I might prefer Mayor Riley’s. Tough call. Here you are:

  28. Thank you ! Buckley looked great

  29. To each his own…Brooks Brothers is a great old company and their non-iron shirt is proof of their staying power (even if it is confirmation only of their dominance mass marketed schlock). But there are scant few who actually think the shirt they make- yes, the NC must-iron shirt- has any of the great proportions and collar roll that defined its predecessor.

    I am glad you’ve found something you like, though.

  30. Well I’m glad you found Kamakura as well – like I said, they are not bad shirts – they are not just the end-all be-all that the their copy makes them out to be…

    As for the “scant few” that think the current BB shirts are not up to par, I have never met any of them in real life – Some internet forums may propagate this fallacy but the NC shirts are still an incredible value

  31. Thurston Evans | October 20, 2013 at 11:06 pm |

    For those of us who are interested in looking neat, and don’t have a fetish about perpetuating impossible-to-iron shirts simply because our grandfathers wore them, the Brooks Brothers non-iron OCBD is God’s gift to man.

  32. A.E.W. Mason | October 20, 2013 at 11:45 pm |

    It seems to me Brooks can still make a good shirt when it wants. I wear their OCBD made by Garland Shirt Company. It’s a good shirt at a good price. It seems as good as the OCBD’s I’ve purchased from J. Press in the last 6 or 7 years. And the J. Press shirts are made by who? … The New England Shirt Company? Is that right? It’s also a good shirt. Come to think of it, I don’t think I want the same exact roll in every OCBD I own. I think of the “roll” like a musical masterpiece; it was created, and now it’s interpreted in various ways–some great, some not so great. Some months back a blog (maybe Heavy Tweed Jacket?) did a pictorial survey of OCBD collar rolls. It was quite interesting.

  33. Yes Jazz Man, I see your point: most of the people who complain about Brooks Brothers are the online crowd who really know and obsess over the details of well-made clothes…Brooks certainly has a huge following amongst the more general shirt-buying “audience.”

  34. Thurston-

    I understand the attraction of the non-iron shirts for the exact reason you spell out- I keep one in the back of the closet as an emergency, “always ironed” shirt. But relegating those of us who won’t wear this plastic-coated version of cotton to the fetishists might be revealing a lack of experience with finer fabrics. The difference is not subtle.

    In the end, none of this is “substitutional”- you don’t have to give up ALL non-ironed shirts to appreciate a great natural, untreated cotton. Nor does one have to banish a great Sea Island cotton simply because you like the non-iron shirts most of the time. It’s not all black and white- I could stand to remember that myself more often. I intend to get some Mercer shirts to add to my collection of Kamakura shirts (that said, I probably won’t get any Brooks Brothers shirts as the Mercer version seems to have a better collar and similar if not better fabric…)

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