My journey in Tokyo began with a sales clerk from Beams’ Marunouchi Building telling me my size simply doesn’t exist in their store. To enthusiastic gaijin (foreigners) who make the pilgrimage to see the Japanese Trad/Ivy scene, this may come as an unfortunate dose of reality if you are of a stature and build outside the norm for Japanese men.
Hoping to score an item, I was about to leave the store feeling defeated. As I reached the door, the clerk stopped me and explained that Beams’ clothes have a very slim, tailored fit, which matches the often slim build of the average Japanese male. However, their partner brand Beams+ carries a variety clothes with an emphasis on looser fits, and specifically, American Trad. My pilgrimage was not in vain, simply rerouted a 10-minute walk south to their Yurakucho store. Walking in the store slightly larger than J.Press by Grand Central, I was greeted by bearded clerks with neatly parted hair, wearing tweed jackets and flannel pants. From here I was introduced to the world of what Beams+ consists of.
The store was decked in antique wood, invoking a Brooks Brothers, Ralph Lauren, J. Press like atmosphere. The clerks enthusiastically discussed with me the history and direction of the brand, as well as their love of American football (which they held much more knowledge than myself). Taking inspiration from pillars of American Trad/Ivy, Beams+ built its empire. Think relaxed fits (for Japanese standards), natural shoulder jackets, regimental ties, and a lot of tweed and flannel. The lengths of the jackets may not meet the needs for taller than average men, however for non-Japanese, the choices are plenty. Their collection for fall/winter is entitled “All You Need is Ivy.” The inspiration behind this season’s looks are modern takes on the Ivy lifestyle, Brooks’ Sack Suits, and Hollywood in the ’50s and ’60s.
The first look consists of a monochromatic look of grey tweed double-breasted jacket, cashmere turtleneck, and wool wide-leg trousers. The modern interpretation lying in the length of the jacket and high-water trousers. A flare of color from the pocket square is added for a vibrant effect:
The classic second look is quintessentially Ivy: blue blazer, regimental tie, white oxford shirt, and grey, wool, wide-leg trousers. True inspiration from the Ivy leaguers of the heyday, an homage to the forefathers.
The third look is a cross between Hollywood cool and beatnik. A shaggy stripe v-neck sweater and pleated wool (albeit high-water) slacks. Paired with the sunglasses further emphasizes the West Coast cool; you can almost hear Stan Getz or Chet Baker playing in the background:
Pilgrims who make the journey to Japan to find the Trad/Ivy epicenter may rest assured as Beams Plus will be able to cater to their needs. Preppy, Ivy, and Trad are thriving in Japan, may we all take note. — PETER E. LAVELLE