When Two-In-One Is Just Better


United Arrows shirt AW 2014Regular readers of our blog will no doubt realise that we have a weakness for classic clothes with a Japanese spin. Here’s another one: a shirt-meets-sweat-top combo by Tokyo-based label Uniform Experiment. As seen above, this is quite simply a shirt of striped cotton broadcloth atop the bottom half of a cotton sweat top. The sum of the uncomplicated parts leans toward the current obsession with athletic wear, yet the reference is not in your face. And that’s the beauty here: it’s wearable quirk. There’s also the likely reaction to donning this: “what kind of shirt is that?” And the rejoinder could be, “One with a split personality disorder!”

United Experiment is a label of the casual wear company Soph, which spawned the label Sophnet, a favourite of the lifestyle and culture magazine Monocle. Started by designer Hirofumi Kiyonaga in 1998, Sophnet has, since 2002 when the name was established, become a brand that produces with inputs from Japanese and American artists. United Experiment, the brother label, is cut from the same cloth, but with a younger, street-centred edge. Experimental, not quite, but united they are.

Uniform Experiment cotton pullover shirt, SGD460, is available at Surrender, Raffles Hotel Shopping Arcade. Photo collage: Just So

Japanese Flair For An American Boot

Timberland x United Arrows Beauty & Youth Premium 6” Boot

The Timberland wheat-coloured boot is one of those classic shoes with work wear reliability that continues to appeal to guys. It is not, by default, a fashionable boot, but by intermittent cosmic intervention of recent years, it has become somewhat cool, especially among those fellows who like to be shod in chunky footwear such as boots by Red Wing Shoes. Or by sartorially savvy individuals who wear the pink instead of the characteristic wheat version as a cheeky challenge to conventional ideas of what makes for manly shoes.

But perhaps that’s going to change with Japanese brand Beauty & Youth giving the forty-plus-year-old Timberland 6-Inch Premium a touch of modern Nippon accents. By association alone, this reiteration may draw the attention of hipsters. Beauty & Youth is part of United Arrows, a Japanese chain store that imbues just enough details and quirks into everything they do, no matter how classic the merchandise, so as to stay on the right side of cool, and enough to keep them straddling comfortably between the traditional and the forward. This is best exemplified in their Harajuku store, one of Tokyo’s most alluring multi-label emporiums. It’s really a Japanese thing, an obsession, and only the Japanese tweak heritage this well. You’ll see it in this Timberland 6-Inch Premium.

Timberland x United Arrows Beauty & Youth Premium 6” Boots

This isn’t Timberland’s first collaboration with Beauty & Youth. Back in the summer of 2009, both brands came up with an all-black boat shoe (with Timberland’s signature orange lining). For the present, the Timberland marketing machinery has been able to seduce the media into calling this new 6-Inch Premium a “special edition”. So how special is it? In this collaboration, the makeover is kept very subtle, unlike, say, Riccardo Tisci and Nike’s bombastic Air Force 1. The wheat-coloured nubuck upper is there, the seam-sealed waterproof construction too, so is the anti-fatigue footbed (which makes this ideal for long walks) and the rubber lug outsole. Here are the Beauty & Youth subtleties: a navy nubuck (instead of dark brown leather) padded collar, tonal (instead of contrast) stitching, golden round (instead of silver octagonal) eyelets, and monotone (instead of two-tone) laces.

In our hands, the boots are heavy, look authentic and feel sturdy, not over-reaching the “premium” tag. They are also still evocative of mountain hikes, barnyard amble, and feet in piles of leaves that have outlived their usefulness on branches. And, for purists, they are totally Timberland.

Timberland x United Arrows Beauty & Youth Premium 6” Boot, SGD 359, is available from today at Timberland @ Raffles City, ION Orchard, 313@ Somerset, and Paragon, as well as Takashimaya Men’s Department