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:
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.
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:
And these tweed topcoats are $4,000:
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:
Custom shirts can be ordered with this collar, a club-tab-buttondown hybrid that Yamamoto says is “1910s Ivy”:
The Japanese love English mottoes. Here’s Caid’s, and it’s a good one. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD