For this story we wanted to photograph Ethan Newton, co-founder of famed menswear emporium, Bryceland’s & Co, on his own turf in Tokyo, Japan. But, excitingly, Bryceland’s is about to open a new home in the UK, with the brand’s third store coming to Chiltern Street in London’s Marylebone towards the end of this year.
“London just felt right for us,” Newton explains, when we grab 20 minutes to speak during his summer trunk show. “We have a great market in the UK and we’ve always done our pop-ups here. British guys just seem to understand what we’re trying to do; they get our references.”
What, pray tell, are those? “A mix of tailoring and vintage, and also of workwear and tailoring. There’s also a very bespoke element to what we do as a business,” Newton continues. “So much of what we do is custom-made, or made-to-order and I think British customers get that – there’s not that need for immediate gratification.”
With such a strong tailoring tradition in London, Newton is surely right, but Bryceland’s philosophy on menswear, which Newton and his co-founder Kenji Cheung embody, adds no small amount to the brand’s appeal. Newton himself is something of a philosopher, and for a retailer he’s reassuringly anti-consumerism. “I don’t believe in it,” he says, “the way we consume in the modern age is just bad for us – it’s like junk food. You just stuff yourself with junk and you’re not getting anything out of it.”
To prove the point, Bryceland’s has made its name by designing the kind of investment-grade clothes that will age elegantly with you; from signature raw denim Westerner shirts, to hardy military chinos, or even lightweight linen and seersucker cabana shirts, the house puts a firm emphasis on buying pieces that patina with time – getting better as they’re washed and lived in, rather than wearing through. Incidentally, that’s why Bryceland’s never goes on-sale: “When you’re shopping on sale, the value of a garment is inherently less; when you buy at full price you think ‘I’m only buying this thing because I can justify the price of it’. You’re more likely to take care of it and cherish it, that way.” Newton adds.
Speaking of things that he cherishes, these two bespoke jackets are Newton’s firm favourites. “These were both made for me by Ono Yusuche of Anglofilo Su Misura, who’s a tailor I work with in Tokyo,” he explains. “He’s extremely accomplished, and worked for Liverano in Florence. In the time we’ve worked together, we’ve both converged towards each other’s style a little bit. He makes garments in exactly the way I think they should fit me.”
The navy blazer (which is cut in sumptuous navy camelhair) was Newton’s favourite jacket until just a few months ago, when this new buffalo-checked number came onto the radar. “I had this made with the idea in mind that I might wear it riding a motorbike,” he continues. “It’s a single-breasted Florentine style with no front dart, in Marling & Evans undyed wool cloth. It’s got massive pockets with flaps, buttons through to the collar with a throat latch, and has a belted back with another pocket on the rear hip for cigarettes. Then, the sleeve is modelled off a 1930s American leather jacket, with angled shirt-sleeve cuffs.”
Clearly, it’s quite the feat of cutting, but it’s not just the way the jacket fits that makes it special. As with Newton’s own creations for Bryceland’s, this piece is all about a tangible connection to its creator and his craft. “Ono is a 200-hours-per-jacket kind of guy, he takes such joy in the making that he simply won’t compromise,” Newton reflects, rolling one of his trademark cigarettes. “He’s also quite a philosophical sort of tailor; he has lots of strong opinions, which I don’t always agree with, but all of them delivered with conviction that I respect. There’s got to be more to life than just flogging garments, we all need to add to the conversation some how.”
Thomas Mason is a brand of cotonificio albini s.p.a.
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