Did we mention the surf?
Stab Recommends: 7 Surf Items Only Available in The Land of The Rising Sun
Made in Japan.
Japan thrives on anything exclusive.
If you've ever browsed Tokyo's boutiques, then you know how easily Yen slips from your grasp when confronted with goods neither love nor money could buy you on home soil. And in Japan, surf's far from a dirty word. In fact, it's still hip, and Tokyo in particular—given its proximity to surfable coast—is littered with surf-themed boutiques (both Saturdays and Pilgrim Surf Supply have stores in the centre, and wouldn't be paying the extortionate rent if their gear didn't sell). So as a tease, we compiled a list of beautiful gear that you can either pay almost double to have shipped your way, or wait until the world re-opens and head East to shop, surf, snow, drink hi-balls, eat food that'll make your taste buds orgasm and generally have the best time ever.
Vans x BOTANIZE
Only in Japan would one of the world's biggest shoe manufacturers release a collab with a plant shop (granted it's not quite Bunnings). The Japanese are type mad, and would have to be one of the foremost modern proponents of gorgeous looking slogans, like the one printed on the soles of the revamped Era above. "Oh these? Got 'em in Japan."
Having been fortunate enough to be plonked on a pair of skis shortly after learning to walk, wasting time in the alps learning to snowboard never appealed. Until I saw a Japanese gent with a silver beard carving up the Olympic Downhill course in Nagano on one of these. Less scrape, more swish, and the closest damn thing you'll get to surfing whilst remaining relatively dry.
If you follow any hip Japanese types in social land, then you'll know that the best "Western" brands often create whole different ranges for the Japanese market. Their tastes are a little more fashion-forward than us in the west, and the Japanese Patagonia trunks range is loud, pattern-perfect, and cut to reveal short, inflated flanks.
Technically American, but founded and designed by a Japanese cat called Kio, Yellow Rat is an enigma. Their website is a .blogspot, it's notoriously hard to get ahold of, but the garments, well, just look at the gorgeous felt and faux-wool combo above. Not many more stylish ways to negotiate winter.
Remi Relief is one of Japan's hippest streetwear exports, and its founder/designer Yutaka Goto is a surf nut who wakes up at 4 am in his Tokyo abode and drives two hours to the surf whenever it's breaking. 'Core' is a much-debated concept, but four hours in the car in winter and traffic, before returning to pump out designs stocked by hi-end boutiques around the globe qualifies in our book. Core awesome. Hats off Mr Goto.
Axxe Classic Wetsuits
My best mate once ordered a custom one of these online, waited three months for it to arrive only to be told that they couldn't do it, for reasons unspecified. And what's not to like about that? Anyone with offspring knows that denying breeds wanting, and when it comes to rubber surf suits, we all know Japanese neoprene reigns supreme. Jump on a flight and get measured up.
Pilgrim Surf Supply x Engineered Garments
Engineered Garments is another technically American co, founded by a Japanese gent (Daiki Suzuki), who've got a strong Japanese feel and presence. It's no secret that we love a collab, and Suzuki combining with NYC's favourite surf sons, Pilgrim, is a dream union. These pants are the perfect blend of tech and fit. Rarer than hen's teeth, but still available on Beams Japan.