Craft / December 2016

A Fair Go at Bryceland's and Co.

Ethan Newton’s Tokyo-based international menswear business is built upon a philosophy of classicism, craftsmanship, sustainability and fair play.

“I focus on working with people where I know the money I’m spending is going into the next generation of what in Japanese we call shokunin, which is an artisan, a craftsman. I’d like to know that there’s more of the shokunin coming up and being supported,” says Ethan Newton, cofounder of quality-centric men’s outfitter, Bryceland’s Co.

An alumnus of Ralph Lauren, Evisu and P.Johnson Tailors, and part of the team that built The Armoury, renowned Australian menswear figure Newton recently returned to his adopted homeland of Japan to start up Bryceland’s, headquartered in Jingumae, Tokyo.

Named in tribute to his family’s maternal line, the business’ core philosophy follows the Japanese concept of sampoyoshi, whereby a craftsman is paid fairly for his work by a merchant who sells the product at a reasonable mark-up to a consumer who receives a useful, well-made, value-for-money item. Everyone’s a winner, essentially. It’s a long-term approach that Newton believes will allow Bryceland’s to build a sustained business with a multi-generation customer base, while also fostering craftsmanship talent. (Suppliers and collaborators include Salvatore Ambrosi, Sartoria Dalcuore, Orazio Luciano, WW Chan, Ascot Chang, Saint Crispins, Sevenfold Florence, and Japanese tailor Yusuche Ono, a.k.a. Anglofilo, who plies his trade in the studio out back of the Bryceland’s shop.)

Newton explains that while working for Ralph Lauren “was a great privilege, and I greatly valued meeting him and spending time with him… it definitely gave me a perspective I didn’t have before,” he simply didn’t have the right temperament for a corporate role with a multi-billion-dollar global company. “It was soul destroying for me. I’m not a political person, I’m Australian so I’m not good at holding my tongue — if something is bullshit, I’m gonna say it’s bullshit.” So when the opportunity arose to bow out gracefully and move back to Japan, Newton seized it, and began conceptualising what would become Bryceland’s.

Through contacts at RL, Newton met his business partner, Kenji Cheung. “Kenji came from more of a corporate background, he works in a completely different field but had a similar perspective to mine,” says Newton. “He liked beautiful tailoring but also liked vintage workwear and military and things like that, so we got talking about it and I said, I’ve always had this dream of building a business, doing it properly, doing it in a way that isn’t necessarily gonna be hugely financially successful, but a business where that isn’t the goal. The goal is to be self-sustaining, where it will pay my salary, where I’m happy to work a job because I love the job I do — a job that’s gonna give me the freedom to do something good. Something that’s valuable, that contributes to the world I live in. Kenji fully agreed, and we said OK, shook hands on it and we threw all our money into a hat and said let’s see what we can do with this. Let’s build a business we’re both gonna be proud of, and that’s what Bryceland’s is.”

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Christian Barker

Christian Barker is The Rake's Asia editor-at-large, a frequent contributor to this site, and an enthusiastic consumer of fine whiskies, sashimi and classic disco music - ideally in unison.