High Adventures in the Great Outdoors
My first visit to Japan was in 2004 – many more for different reasons follow. What was a formidable experience the first time around, only got better once one was able to discern and deep dive into the beauty that is Japan and specifically the labyrinth of wonders that is Tokyo. Each time I have the fortune of visiting, there are some regular stops, not only food, sake and specifically whisky related, but to record / toy stores and the HQ of fashion outlets like Undercover and e.g. Kapital in Ebisu, just to gaze at the outlandish creations designers like Jun Takahashi or experience the new ways the Kapital creative team has come up with to distress clothing and rearrange it in the most tragic and wonderous of ways.
While the fascination for the more “out there” Japanese fashion will most likely never vanish, I have grown to increasingly appreciate everyday garments Japanese brands create as they not only feel amazing as far as materials are concerned but more often than not, they have a nice twist to what they are doing. That is, if I can find garments in my size, which is always a challenge in Japan.
Case in point: Steteco, a brand named after the loose shorts worn under kimonos in 19th-century Japan. I had walked past their creations in departments stores many a times, until a friend brought them up and attested that she swears by them. Having received a pair of shorts and shirt as a Christmas gift and getting to experience the simple yet functional cotton-crepe pieces, made me instantaneously a fan and it was fantastic to see how the brand got more exposure via the recent collaboration with Monocle, which finally saw Steteco channel their alchemy in the creation of clothes in sizes larger than “LL”.
Sitting outside at a café, currently wearing some of airy Steteco’s versatile lounge shorts in public, might give an idea of the unique melange that Steteco manages to create, i.e. marrying traditional craftsmanship and contemporary design, with a firm focus on comfort and durability.
Needless to say, no matter how casual Steteco’s creations look, a closer look shows the meticulous attention to detail and exacting standards their wares are created by as far as weaving, sewing and manufacturing is concerned, which adds a subtlety that many other brands lack. The fact that many of the distinct styles and clothes have a story to them, e.g. pants being named after the hindquarters of a flying squirrel adds a nice playfulness to the story.
Given the humidity of Japanese summers, literally all of their creations have breathability as the common denominator, with their pants being created out of the meshed, soft cotton chijimi textile, which has not only been used since the Edo period and feels nice, but combines elasticity and the ability to absorb moisture.
I am thankful for having been nudged to check Steteco out as it exposed me to a world of clothes that I normally would have not checked out at the Isetan Shinjuku Store.
image from company website