I have to admit, this blog is mostly full of random posts until I can gather enough photos to do something on Yukio Akamine. For all the men who are admired nowadays for their sense of style, you’d be surprised how many weren’t always so well dressed. Like the rest of us, they wore things that perhaps weren’t so great in 20/ 20 hindsight. You can search forever, however, and you’ll never find a bad photograph of Akamine. The idea of timelessness is often overwrought, overused, and even overvalued, but there’s something to be said about how his style has aged so well over the years.
Akamine, for those unfamiliar, is a style consultant in Japan who runs a small label called Akamine Royal Line. He’s been a popular figure on various menswear blogs for years, often photographed by street style sites such as The Sartorialist. Back in the day, before there was Blogspot or Tumblr, Akamine had his own site instructing men on the finer details of men’s style. He had the sort of tutorials you’d find in Men’s Ex, where a photograph of a well-dressed man was punctuated with various “dos and donts.” I can’t read Japanese, so I never understood the text, but the photographs alone kept me coming back.
One of the things I love about Akamine’s style is how well he combines English, Italian, and French influences. He wears suits and sport coats from Liverano, ties from Drake’s, shirts from Charvet, and shoes from John Lobb. The shoulder line on his jackets is always soft and sloping, but also slightly extended to give his frame a flattering v-shaped figure. The trousers are trim; the overcoats generously sized. The shirt collars are long enough such that the points neatly tuck behind his jacket’s lapels. And as conservative as his dress may seem, his outfits have a lot of personality – knits layered on top of each other, socks worn to match dress shirts, and monochrome outfits riffing off one color.
If Akamine’s style seems quasi-cinematic, that’s because he developed his eye by watching old films. In interviews, he’s talked about how much he loves movies starring American actors such as Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart, or ones directed by Italian filmmakers such as Federico Fellini, Roberto Rossellini, and Luchino Visconti. Above, you can see some scrapbooks he used to put together for his favorite actors, something like an early version of how many of us save digital photos of stylish men for inspiration. There are also old catalogs from British brands such as Burberry, as well as early issues of long forgotten publications such as Apparel Arts. More than learning about the “rules,” I’ve always thought it’s more important to develop a sense of visual language. Akamine has a tremendously good eye for silhouette and color, which is what separates him from most.
Five years ago, For the Discerning Few interviewed Akamine and asked him for his view on style. His answer:
I believe that the components of style emanate from within: intelligence, character, personality. Clothes matter, but they cannot give you style. […] The way you hold yourself, the way you place your hands will change the aspect of a suit. Style is to be found in everything that we do. What I’m trying to say is, more important than how many centimeters of shirt cuff you’re showing is that you be in sync with the way you dress. We are almost like characters in a film, we are moving, living characters, we are playing ourselves.
For instance, when I look at Scott Schuman’s pictures, most of the time I don’t even notice the clothes, I notice that Scott is able to get the subject’s heart on film. If you look at The Sartorialist only for the clothes, you are missing the point.
For more of Akamine, you can visit his site and Instagram account. Style blogs such as The Sartorialist and Sartorial Notes often feature him (some of the photos below are from there). Lastly, I have an old post about Akamine from three years ago, which was the last time I had enough photos to make a post. Here’s to another three years of substandard content until I can cobble together another 50+ pics of Akamine for a post on a living style legend.