Noteworthy

Here are a few interesting and noteworthy things that I have stumbled across in the last few weeks while kicking around lovely old Vancouver, BC. Although it gets dark at 4:30PM now, there are far more opportunities for layering and having absolutely nothing better to do on a Saturday then shop.

Kamuy Vintage

I heard about a vintage workwear shop that was located in a basement in Gastown, and it was a no-brainer that I would be checking it out the following day. Underneath Out and About boutique on West Cordova (a great store for design-focused gifts and trinkets), sits Kamuy Vintage. From the moment I walked in, I knew it was unlike anything else in town. Racks of well-curated finds are stuffed into their basement space, and I managed to find a vintage Japanese army jacket after only a few minutes (I didn’t pull the trigger yet though, maybe next time).

The “pop-up” says on its website that it was supposed to end July 31st, but I snuck in this visit in early November. Let’s hope they stick around.

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Wearing vintage Japanese army jacket

Garuda

I noticed a friend of mine wearing a pair of off-white (not the brand) techwear-inspired pants while I was at his house for a pizza party. While we listened to the COLORS SHOW channel on YouTube and talked about Arc’teryx, he mentioned that they were a custom order from a clothing designer friend – and this is how I discovered GARUDA.

Initially founded in Auckland, NZ, the company was moved to Panchkula, India after only a few years of operation. Now the brand runs its own private workshop to manage every step of their process from design to manufacturing and beyond.

Their collections are wide ranging, and are organized into 4 “kits” for different use in a day in the city, and many items are made to order.

Photo from https://garuda-ss.com

DEVOA

This month saw the release of the November/December edition of FOLIO.YVR, where I interviewed Daisuke Nishida of the menswear brand DEVOA from suburban Tokyo.

I could speak at length about the clothes he makes, but for me what is more interesting is the man behind the brand. Nishida started out as a wrestling/MMA athlete and then instructor, where he started to think about how the human body moved efficiently while in motion.

He then began a career as an anatomy teacher, where he became inspired by the works of Andreas Vesalius, a figure who is seen as the grandfather of modern anatomy. Vesalius created drawings that showed the muscular structure of the human body, while elongating and affecting certain features for reasons no one knows.

Now, Nishida makes trousers that make the wearer appear taller and slimmer, and designs the seams of his jacket sleeves to, I’m not even embellishing here, caress the wearer’s arm ergonomically and minimize contact with the nerve.

Nishida does all this and practices visual art too; he is currently touring the world with his collection of visual art, featuring handmade figures and clothing that depict a futuristic human race wher everyone wears black techwear.

He worked with traditional washi paper to make this art, confirming my hypothesis that anything he wants to do, he will figure out. Keep an eye on Daisuke Nishida and the DEVOA brand in the future.

DEVOA brand
Photo from https://devoa.jp/collection

Where in the world: The Gurkha Trouser

Fashion with a history rooted in war is nothing new. Availability in military surplus stores and a certain Robert DeNiro movie led the army jacket to become popular as civilian garb, and standard military issue turned into everyday practicality (even for the flak it catches) in the form of the cargo pant. But no singular piece comes with such a captivating story as the Gurkha Trouser.

The Gurkha Trouser’s name comes directly from Nepal’s highest-order soldiers, who first came to prominence fighting British East India invaders in the early 1800’s. Native to the region of Central Nepal, the Gurkha’s had incredible stamina, borne of living at high altitude. This combined with their fearless demeanour and knowledge of their home terrain led them to stun their invaders, who took much longer than they had anticipated to defeat them in the Anglo-Nepalese war.

Gurkha Soldiers marching during WWI

Since then, they have went on to fight for their previous aggressors, the British, in miliary campaigns across the globe. If you visit Whitehall Road while in London, outside the Ministry of Defense, you can find the World War I Gurkha Memorial, a solier standing proud and resolute with an inscription reading “Bravest of the brave” at his feet. Although it is hard to tell whether he is wearing the distinctive style of buckle under his army jacket, one can dare to dream. Now they have crossed the final frontier – menswear – as the Gurkha trouser has become favoured by Instagram style icons, seen in Florence’s Pitti Uomo and even New York City.

The Gurkha Trouser’s design is defined by its double-pleated cummerbund style waistband with buckle fastenings to allow the wearer to adjust the fit if they fluctuate in weight. It’s not uncommon to see curious adaptations, like in a short or featuring ticket pockets. The overall effect is an increase in attention towards the legs, perhaps seen best without a jacket at all to defer any wandering eyes.

Ernest Hemingway was a gurkha short fan during his Cuban days

Admittedly, it’s difficult for me to make a stance on these pants. On one hand they are clearly functional and are a nod to some of the most badass John Rambo-types the world has ever known. But one part of me wants to view it as a tactless repurposing of a traditional garment, verging on a fad and so far-removed from sartorial standards that it could easily fall into disuse. Like anything else you see for the first time on Instagram, it is at the danger of falling victim to the next trend , and ending up in the dark end of well-curated closets.

Will from @thedonsclub

But at the same time, sometimes we have to look back in time for inspiration, and the important thing is that the Gurkha trouser doesn’t feel stolen from the Gurkha’s themselves, who still occupy highly coveted positions in the British military (albeit with standard issue cargo pants). Although far from the battlefield, its presence prompts casual menswear fans to look into the fascinating history of its original wearers, and it seems too esoteric to ever be taken up by fast fashion.

So buckle up with a range of retailers who are capitalizing on this phenomenon like Rubinacci (best seen on @thedonsclub) running at a higher price point ($500 CAD), and PiniParma and Cordone 1956 ($350 CAD) offering middle range options. But keep in mind if you have at least a few months of winter before you can pull it off like this: