A new chapter for Nihombashi
Mitsukoshi Nihombashi has its origins in its gofuku or kimono section. However, the move from traditional kimono to Western-style clothing in early Meiji Restoration Japan was a new chapter for Mitsukoshi, as the Nihombashi area as a whole became part of the hub for the wave of Western fashion that would eventually sweep Japan.
The start of Japanese tailoring
As early as 1886 (Meiji 19), a scattering of Japanese tailors making Western-style suits had sprung up in the east of Tokyo, in the formative years of Meiji, and suits began appearing in department stores, turning a niche process into something open to all.
Mitsukoshi Nihombashi was part of the first wave centred in Nihombashi to offer a tailoring department, even though the store operated primarily as a kimono seller at the time. After seeing an immense demand for these skills and materials still rare in Japan, Nihombashi began taking steps that would cement its reputation as the Savile Row of Tokyo.
The Savile Row effect
In 1906 (Meiji 39), Mitsukoshi Nihombashi sought the advice of British tailor Alexander Mitchell to guide its team of Japanese tailors in opening Nihombashi’s first tailoring atelier, founded in the same year. The tailoring department was opened to great acclaim and, in the process, started a new chapter for tailoring in Japan. Mitchell noted that skills he had learned in Britain would need adapting to meet Japanese sensibilities and lifestyles. The difference between sitting on chairs as opposed to tatami mats, for example, required a different cut of trouser. Elsewhere, subtle shifts, such as colour preferences, seasonal Japanese fabrics, and even the development of the distinctive tonbi Western-style coat worn over a kimono, sprung up in this exciting period for tailoring, creating in the process a style of Western tailoring interpreted through Japanese eyes.
A century of Japanese tailoring
It is now 110 years since Alexander Mitchell first guided Mitsukoshi’s team of in-house tailors to perfection. With each generation, and with every painstakingly cut and hand-sewn suit, this evolution continues, and the store applies its well-honed craft and sensibilities to tailoring fit for the global stage. Needless to say, prepared suits are available for fitting, but, for an experience with a heritage that dates back over 100 years, the fully bespoke service remains Mitsukoshi Nihombashi’s signature style, combining Japanese craft and attention to detail with the highest-quality fabrics and inherited expertise.
Location: menswear made-to-order salon, second floor, Mitsukoshi Nihombashi main building
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