The Takeaway: A Designer’s Favorite Keepsakes from Japan
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The Takeaway: A Designer’s Favorite Keepsakes from Japan

Simon Miller Japanese Design
David Alexander Arnold and Kira Turnbul

Visiting denim factories in Japan is a part of the job description for Daniel Corrigan, designer of the American sportswear brand SIMON MILLER. For this trip, Corrigan visited three cities in Japan, starting in Tokyo for an event with the fashion store United Arrows to celebrate the launch of the brand’s Bonsai bag. Then to Kyoto where he met with Seji Naito from the Japanese footwear brand JoJo, who they recently collaborated with for Spring/Summer 2016. The last stop was Okayama to work with the label’s fabric mills for the Fall 2016 collection. “I absolutely loved Okayama. Our wash house is tucked alongside a small mountain range with views of the Bingonada Sea, and we spent several days visiting with family owned mills which we’ve been partners with for 4 years,” he says.

Here are Corrigan’s favorite mementos from his travels around the country.

1. “Manufacture” book – Shibuya Booksellers, Tokyo / 4,860 yen

“This is a beautifully made book, bound in vegetable-tanned leather, that tells the visual story of shoe manufacturing. I loved the idea of a brand telling their manufacturing story in such a tactile way.”

2. Chopsticks – Archivando, Tokyo / 4,190 yen

“Many Japanese carry their own chopsticks, so I invested in a couple sets of my own at the start of the trip.”

3. Ganzo coin wallet – La Kagu, Tokyo / 26,000 yen

“I love the quality of this coin wallet from Ganzo, made from Horween leather. The engraving says “This product is chic and made from the best quality. It will bring you eternal pleasure.”

4. Hundredsoon candle – La Kagu, Tokyo / 6,800 yen

“It’s easy to have sensory overload in Japan, so I was drawn to the subtle scent, design, and packaging of this candle. It’s handmade in Japan with beeswax from the Fukuoka region.”

5. Gion Naito geta sandals – Gion Naito, Kyoto / 120,000 yen

“We partnered with the Japanese footwear brand JoJo on a sandal collaboration for Spring/Summer 2016. In Japan, I was inspired by Gion Naito, their traditional geta sandals that has been a family run business for five generations. Because each pair is handmade, I was able to visit their storefront and customize a pair out of traditional materials that still feel modern.”

6. Kapital wool blanket – Kapital, Okayama / 25,000 yen

"Kapital makes the most beautifully detailed products, like this blanket I found in felted wool with an intricate tribal jacquard.”

7. Kapital wool socks – Kapital, Okayama / 5,000 yen

“Kapital is a fixture in Okayama and the store is a converted public library. On my last day I stopped by and loved the texture of these socks."

8. Sake set – Ichiyou Gama, Okayama / 14,000 yen

“We’ve made a tradition out of serving sake at our fashion week events and showroom—this sake set is made by Ichiyou Kimura, a 13th generation ceramicist who practices in the Kimura tradition of ceramics. The ceramics studio and kiln are both located behind the family’s Okayama shop.”

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