In the late 1970s, Japanese companies went on a mad spree to secure licenses for American traditional brands. Everyone knows that Onward Kashiyama acquired J. Press, and maybe even that VAN Jacket made Japanese versions of Gant shirts. But what is lesser known is that Macbeth — a trad clothier founded in 1967 by former department store buyer and fashion critic Shirō Itoh — sold Chipp in Japan for a short time starting in 1978. The advertisement below appeared in the December, 1978 “American Traditional Extra Edition” of Men’s Club:
The text runs as follows:
He may be bad at using a fork but I love my Dad who has been wearing Chipp before I was born.
Not “lots of clothes for lots of people” — this brand is meant for a select group who really understand the clothing’s comfort.
That’s the spirit of Chipp, which we have continue to uphold ever since being founded right on Madison Avenue’s Trad Square in New York City. Because of this principle, there are not a lot of people who wear Chipp. Maybe it’s only 1% of America. But the lineup starts with the Kennedy brothers, FBI agents, politicians, executives from large enterprises — only the most familiar faces.
But that is not what makes Chipp proud. It’s just a coincidence that out of the people who love Chipp’s gentle trad comfort, many of them are famous.
Chipp stubbornly represent the best of America, and now they’ve finally come to Japan.
The fork reference is a bit confusing — I think it’s trying to make the father sound bumbling — but a Japanese copywriter from the 1970s would plausibly focus on that particular imported utensil as a way to demonstrate someone’s clumsiness.
Chipp seemed to have disappeared relatively quickly from Japan, and Macbeth ended up going bankrupt later on. A few pieces of Japanese Chipp gear can be seen here. And here is a picture of Mr. Itoh at Chipp in the late 1970s.
According to Paul Winston, the Chipp-Macbeth partnership did not end well. — W. DAVID MARX