Somehow, the folks from out East have been showing us folks from the West how to do our traditional workwear better and bolder. Japanese Americana is a certified genre and, perhaps, the master of it is Daiki Suzuki, designer for his own brand, Engineered Garments, and Woolrich Woolen Mills, the new high-end line from the legendary outdoor clothier. It's a long way from Japan to Pennsylvania, but Suzuki has made the transition, putting out looks that have all the heritage one would expect with the modern touches we need.
We hear that you've been diving into Woolrich's archive, adding antique elements to the new collection.
I try to choose good dynamic designs with patterns that can be modified for today's use. Usually I re-work the fits as lightly as possible, being careful not to re-produce vintage designs—adding some things and taking some off, balancing it out to make it look new. There are so many technical and modern outerwear companies in the market, Woolrich should always be based on old fashioned techniques and ideas. I feel if a customer wants technical modern designs, they should go to Patagonia or North Face.
Tell us about this season in particular, what's new to the line?
One of the new challenges was the Polo Coat, a classic American item —it's and, really, has nothing to do with the Woolrich heritage, so I modified it into a more casual garment by making it out of a Woolrich fabric and adding practical details. I also did a variety of vests including a short fishing-style vest, a traditional railroad vest, mountain vest, and a knit vest.
How does working with Woolrich effect your work for Engineered Garments?
Originally I used Woolrich wool for EG then the Woolrich project came in. Now I have a stronger connection to the mill so working together to develop more creative fabrics is much easier for both Woolrich and EG.
How did you develop this appreciation for this American style of outerwear?
Everything came from my experience as a sales person and a buyer for stores in Japan. I have seen so many great American outer wear companies in the past 28 years working in this industry. I picked up a few things.
For more information go to www.woolrichwoolenmillsproduction.com.
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