Tailor Caid, Japan’s Jazz-Ivy Mad Man

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Bruce Boyer’s book party at The Armoury last Thursday featured another guest of honor: Yuhei Yamamoto, who operates out of Tokyo under the name Tailor Caid. Hardcore Ivy fans will know him from his blog, which features a vast library of vintage images as well as samples of his tailoring work. Yamamoto was in town for a trunk show, as The Armoury has just begun carrying a small portion of his ready-to-wear.

Ever since Kensuke Ishizu first comissioned the creation of “Take Ivy” in 1965, Japan has had an obsession with the collegiate side of the Ivy League Look. In the years since, countless magazine articles from the likes of Men’s Club have documented student style alongside images of architecture, pennants, and other symbols of university life. But forty-seven-year-old Yamamoto is more akin to Ivy fans in England, in that he was originally turned on to Ivy from jazz albums and old movies, particularly those set in New York.

Through broken English, my broken Japanese, and the help of a translator, Yamamoto told Ivy Style about his work.

“My inspiration is not college style, but the world of businessmen on Madison Avenue,” he said. “When I was a child and American TV shows began being imported into Japan, I thought the styles were just amazing.” In the photo above, the mannequin wears a replica of the brown herringbone jacket Steve McQueen wears in “Bullitt.” While in New York he planned to visit jazz clubs and museums, but lamented that the jazz and cultural scene is not as vibrant as it once was.

Yamamoto even brought his portable inspiration board, which consists of laminated vintage advertisements for mainstream clothiers such as Clipper Craft, Hardwick, h.i.s., and the like:

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While his sportcoats feature all the Ivy details, they don’t have hook vents, which he says are associated with J. Press, Langrock and Norman Hilton. Brooks Brothers styling is the most original and authentic, he says.

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Yamamoto is more than just a clothier in the business sense. For his bespoke clients he cuts the patterns himself, then has associates do the actual sewing. Everything is made by hand in Japan. “English and Italian tailors spend a lot of time making their clothes, and I wanted to do the same, only with American style.” Tailor Caid turns out about 30 items per month, and Yamamoto encourages his clients to build their wardrobes slowly, rather than commission many items at once. “People who love Ivy style do not wear other kinds of clothes; they stick with it. Ivy is a medium fit: it’s not too tight and it’s not too big. It’s also subtle.”

It’s a bit puzzling to imagine just who Tailor Caid’s New York following will be, but it probably not be thrifty Ivy geeks but the same Wall Street guys and advanced sartorialists who appreciate The Armoury’s sophisitcated take on style. Tailor Caid’s jackets are priced at $2,800:

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And these tweed topcoats are $4,000:

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This shirt was an updated copy of a vintage Brooks model and featured six-button front, wide box pleat, and the added touch of a rear collar button:

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Custom shirts can be ordered with this collar, a club-tab-buttondown hybrid that Yamamoto says is “1910s Ivy”:

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The Japanese love English mottoes. Here’s Caid’s, and it’s a good one. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD

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20 Comments on "Tailor Caid, Japan’s Jazz-Ivy Mad Man"

  1. “We’re not snobs but we know a few rules.” Perfect!

    Almost as good as “I’m not judgmental but that’s just wrong!”

  2. I had never heard of Yamamoto before but I actually really like the look of his jackets.

  3. Long may he flourish. I love the fact that this elegant Japanese guy comes from the same Ivy starting point as we old English devotees: modern jazz. I’m only sad that he’s already lamenting the reduced vibrancy in today’s NYC jazz scene.

  4. What is the link to his blog?

  5. Bags
    Regarding the vibrancy of the jazz scene in NY: He may just be comparing Japan to NY. FWIW as I’ve not yet been to Japan, but friends in the jazz world who regularly tour in Japan say the Japanese are totally crazy for their jazz. We have great jazz venues in NYC – Blue Note, Birdland, Vanguard, Iridium, etc, but when it comes to jazz in the New Millennium, Japan is the place. Apparently, nothing else compares.

  6. I am confused. Will there be an independent shop in the city or just a few items at The Armoury? Good luck to him, but in a city where Paul Winston and Jay Walter work, what’s the point?

  7. Didn’t Paul Winston retire?

  8. How is it that the Japanese seem to be able to make vintage inspired Ivy garb better than any company in the US?!

  9. RWK

    Is that really a surprise? Think about the American auto industry and Toyota and Honda. They started making better cars in the early 1970s and never looked back. I recently (last year) bought a new SUV and consulted Consumer Reports. There was no American SUV recommended within the top ten cars in the class I was looking to buy. I was shocked at this. Electronics aren’t much different. Most TVs are made by the Japanese. I have nothing at all against the Japanese; in fact, just the opposite. I think it great that there are so competitive. I fault us for not being willing to make the changes needed. You would think we would learn after 40+ years of being beaten at our own game, but somehow that doesn’t seem to be happening. The Koreans understand it, so it can’t be some magical rocket science that only the Japanese are privy to, but we seem not to be too intelligent in this regard. Now Tailor Caid is making great clothing and challenging the better American makers. It may soon be that “Made in Japan” will be where the trad guy prefers to source his wardrobe.

    Okay, rant over. I think TC’s clothes look phenomenal. Props to Yamamoto-san. The next time I am in New York, I definitely will be making my way to The Armoury.

  10. Ward, I think his lament is for the vibrancy the NYC jazz scene lost with the demise of his Ivy-wearing heroes. I don’t think he’d dare compare the vibrancy of Japan with the US, because I can’t agree that Japan is where it’s at. But he’s a guy who probably knows more about jazz than most Americans, as I discovered with so many Japanese a long while ago. I myself have found that I often end up lecturing most Americans on their great native art form. And their look of shock when i say I’ve been hanging out diggin’ jazz in Greenwich Village until 3 am. As for the clubs, I lament no longer being able to see Fat Tuesday’s on your list. Boy, wouldn’t I love to be back there, chatting at the bar with some of my heroes. Though it goes without saying that the Village Vanguard and Blue Note have always been the places to go. But I can’t end without giving European jazz a mention. Obviously I’m a little biased, but I truly believe it now gives US jazz more than a run for its money.

  11. If one follows the link to Tailor Caid’s website and then clicks the link for “Days”, Tailor Caid has posted some pictures of the G. Bruce Boyer book event that don’t have anyone wearing hats indoors or the current incarnation of Emperor Norton in them.

  12. Bag’s

    Most Americans don’t know much about jazz. Sad, considering it is the quintessential American music form. Kind of like Keith Richards saying once, with incredulity, “How can Americans not know about Robert Johnson” and all the other great American blues musicians? Sometimes, it takes a Brit to remind Americans about our heritage. So don’t be timid about lecturing us about jazz.

    On a side note, it wasn’t until I visited London for the first time that I understood where my culture came from. I am American, of course, but all Americans come from elsewhere, and my elsewhere includes England. I’ll never forget the feeling standing in the midst of the bustle in London thinking, “Yes, this is where I come from.”

    Fat Tuesday’s is now a yoga studio, by the way. You’ll have to bring your own music while you stretch, unless you favor those mystical, new age yoga tunes — Hare Krisna, mate!

  13. Speaking of Paul Winston–or at the very least Chipp–the ties on Caid’s website are pretty reasonably priced…

  14. The Japanese have an amazing eye for detail. Look at the roll on those lapels. It is perfect. Look at the open quarters. They seem to master the trim Ivy look that many young Trads appreciate.

    How much are the shirts? Does anyone know?

  15. William Richardson | September 25, 2015 at 9:42 am |

    @Bags

    Art Farmer had me hold his flugelhorn while he signed his autograph for me and my girlfriend at the Village Vanguard. Turned out we were sitting next to a gentleman with a bright red sportcoat, Jon Hendricks, with whom I discussed Lambert Hendricks and Ross and King Pleasure. What a time for a twenty six year old white boy who had listened to jazz from the cradle.

    A jazz bassist friend of mine got me in to a private party for The MJQ in Norfolk Va back in the ’80s when their album featuring Duke Ellington was released. Bags was very gracious.

    It is a shame that the great ones are mostly all gone. My wife and I were in New York last year and had the opportunity to visit the Village Vanguard but I passed as I did not want to be disappointed. Do you know how it is now?

    Will

    Will

  16. William Richardson | September 25, 2015 at 9:43 am |

    My Art Farmer experience was in the early ’90s.

  17. Apologies William, I’ve only just picked up your comment.
    I’ve so many wonderful jazz moments to choose from, but my most cherished moment of all was listening to and chatting to Bill Evans on a freezing night in a sparsely occupied Village Vanguard the year before my great jazz hero left us.
    I understand exactly how you feel about passing on the Vanguard. There’s few who’d draw me back these days.

  18. I am Japanese.
    I am a customer of Tailor Caid.
    Nothing to wear ever we had made here.
    Mr. Yamamoto made suit is the best to looking good!
    I love the 1960s fashion and music.
    And the atmosphere of that era has been condensed to suit him make.
    Japanese invention is not good, but the arrangement is good.
    Ivy Americans had forgotten long ago style, why not very surprised that had survived in a small island nation in the Far East?
    I mainly proud to wear every day the suit Tailor Caid now of age…

  19. Mistake:
    Nothing wear ever we had made here.
    Right:
    Here we had made ​​a lot of suit ever.

  20. William Richardson | September 29, 2015 at 10:17 am |

    @Bags

    Back in ’74, my father took me to see Count Basie. We were just about the only white people there. Freddie Green stared at me for the whole concert. The entire band signed the concert poster for me. Count Basie was a nice man. Freddie Green turned out pretty nice too.

    Will

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