The Rake guide to 5 of the best luxury Japanese brands

Discover the essence of Japanese luxury fashion with The Rake guide to the top five brands. Each label, from Old Joe Brand's vintage flair to Auralee's minimalism, embodies a unique fusion of tradition and innovation, shaping the world of high-end fashion.

The Rake guide to 5 of the best luxury Japanese brands

Even a decade ago, Japanese fashion was one of the best-kept secrets in menswear. Clearly, that's no longer the case. In the past few years, the global fashion audience has begun to learn about the wealth of Japanese clothing brands that have been pushing the envelope of style and creating amazing, high-quality products just out of sight of the masses.

With that in mind, The Rake curated a guide to some of the best brands our readers should know about. For the already familiar, it’s a chance to reflect on the best of the best. For those less informed, the door’s about to open to another level of style.

Old Joe Brand: Vintage elegance meets modern sophistication

Old Joe Brand, under the creative direction of Yusuke Takagi, stands out for its exceptional craftsmanship, a blend of vintage Americana and contemporary fashion sensibilities. Each garment is meticulously handcrafted in Japan, emphasising the brand's commitment to quality and detail. Using traditional Japanese dyeing techniques, Old Joe Brand imbues its garments with depth and character, ensuring that each piece is visually striking and rich in heritage. The fabrics selected are known for their excellent durability, aligning with the brand's philosophy of creating pieces for lifelong use. The brand encourages customers to cherish their products, integrating these timeless designs into their everyday wardrobe. This blend of historical inspiration with modern flair makes Old Joe Brand a unique and valuable addition to the discerning gentleman's collection.

The Real McCoy's: Authentic military vintage reproductions

Arguably the finest Americana reproduction brand from Japan, the Real McCoy's painstakingly recreate and update original garments for the modern day. No details, from the fabrics to the buttons and garment tags, are overlooked. American fashion dating from the 1940s and 1950s is McCoy's source of inspiration. A young country unburdened by the restriction of traditional customs was uninhibited, rational and innovative. The Real McCoy's offers the best from the past, replicated to perfection without compromise. 

Auralee: Modern minimalism and high-quality materials

Auralee is a brand that finds beauty in subtlety, steering clear of over-the-top narratives and flashy clothing. Embodying the evolving traditional notions of minimalism, Auralee's collections study understated elegance. The garments and their colour palettes are gentle, striking a delicate balance between sophistication and comfort. This approach is evident in their streamlined collections, where the focus is placed on producing only the most essential pieces, allowing textiles to take centre stage. The brand is known for its conscious sourcing of materials, utilising wools and cottons that contribute to the earthy feel of their winter coats, fluffy knitwear, and versatile oversized trousers. Auralee's garments are designed with an eye for versatility and ease, making them a perfect fit for various styles and occasions. 

Beams: A comprehensive lifestyle brand

Founded in 1976 by Etsuzo Shitara and Osamu Shigematsu, Beams started as a lifestyle store in Tokyo, offering a diverse range of products, including interior items, furniture, clothing, and footwear. Over the years, Beams has refined its all-encompassing approach, evolving into a brand that captures the essence of comprehensive lifestyle fashion. In 2005, Beams expanded its reach beyond Japan, opening a store in Hong Kong and marking its transition into an international brand. This expansion was a significant milestone in the brand's history, reflecting its growing influence in the global fashion and lifestyle market. A pivotal development for Beams was the launch of Beams Plus in 1999. This menswear line has become particularly prominent in the international market, overshadowing other verticals of the company. Beams Plus is celebrated for its workwear-inspired collections, which centralise traditional style and the use of premium quality materials. The line embodies the brand's commitment to classic, enduring style coupled with modern sensibilities.

Visvim: A harmonious blend of tradition and innovation

Visvim, founded in 2000 by Hiroki Nakamura, is a testament to the fusion of traditional craftsmanship and modern technological innovation. Nakamura, after leaving his position as a designer at Burton Snowboards, was inspired by both the technical elements of his previous role and the traditional crafts he encountered while traveling the world. This led to the formation of Cubism Inc., with its "Free International Laboratory" (F.I.L.), aiming to harmonise natural, traditional techniques with contemporary innovations to create a superior expression of classic clothing. At the heart of Visvim's philosophy is the use of natural dyes made from materials like indigo, mud, and cochineal beetles. These are applied to intricate textile blends such as linen, hemp, silk, and angora, and are then combined with modern technologies, including Gore-Tex. One of Visvim's most iconic creations is the FBT shoe, a reimagined version of the Native American moccasin.