Of all the style personalities online, few inspire me as much as Yukio Akamine, a Japanese men’s style consultant and clothing designer. Like many men of his generation, Akamine went into the clothing trade in the 1960s, right around the time Japanese youths were picking up button-down collars and Levi’s 501s. Akamine was one of the young men enamored with classic style, so he decided to make a career out of it. Over the years, he’s helped translate British, American, and Italian style for a Japanese audience. In the 1970s, he had a clothing brand called Way Out, which was managed under his umbrella company Trad. He’s consulted for United Arrows and provided personal styling services for executives. He even played a pioneering role in Japan’s Italian restaurant boom in the early ‘90s, when he oversaw Tokyo’s Il Boccalone and La bis Boccia, two restaurants for Tuscan cuisine.
If Akamine’s style feels cinematic, it’s because he developed his eye by watching old films. In interviews, he’s talked about his love for 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. Consequently, his style is a multicultural soup of 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. His jackets have a shoulder line that’s 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.
As conservative as his style may seem, Akamine’s outfits are full of personality. Knits are layered on top of each other and socks are worn to match dress shirts. Some of his single-breasted jackets even have both patch pockets and peak lapels (a daring combination). Plus, there are those deep, deep two-inch cuffs. On most men, these things would seem affected, but on Akamine, they look so good and natural. Whether it’s because of his handsome face or age, I don’t know. I’ll give them a try when I’m in my 70s so I can at least tell if you if it’s the latter.
Akamine also runs one of my favorite Instagram accounts. I love the photos for how they feel so pure — just a man who enjoys clothes, posing in different daily outfits (never a single one repeated), and shot plainly in what looks to be a residential courtyard. Sometimes he posts the same photo two or three times in a row. I’d like to think it’s because he wants his friends to get recognition (in the images above, you can see him with Douglas Cordeaux, Antonio Liverano, and the co-owners of Il Vecchio Drappiere). The real reason is likely simpler – he probably doesn’t know how to use his iPhone, which somehow manages to be even more charming. Here he is accidentally shooting an off-centered photo of his outfit. The man is an absolute treasure.
The idea of timelessness is often overwrought, overused, and even overvalued, but there’s something to be said about how Akamine’s style has aged so well over the years. Even the cut of his suits seemingly hasn’t changed much since he was photographed alongside his friends Luciano Barbera and Toshio Shirai in 1993. In an old interview for the now-defunct site For the Discerning Few, Akamine said:
I believe that the components of style emanate from within: intelligence, character, personality. Clothes matter, but they cannot give you style. More important than how many centimeters of shirt cuff you are 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. That cinematic approach to style is what’s most interesting about men’s dress.
Some people have more financial resources than they have taste, so whatever they do, they tend to do it in a pretty bad style. Internet at some level tends to be the cause of that. People are all about the moment, they want things to happen right away without taking the time to learn and to appreciate anything. I believe that you see a continuity of taste in a person’s life from the way they speak, the way they conduct themselves, and from the way their house is set up and furnished.
The shoes I wear today are from John Lobb, they are 25 years old. When I first got them, they weren’t really comfortable, but after 25 years, they really feel comfortable. With beautiful things, it is all about learning to wait, being patient. People today, they don’t want to give it time. But it is like love, it is like a relationship, it is like learning, like all the things we admire, it takes time. Anything that happens in the snap of a finger isn’t good.
This site is mostly full of random posts until I can gather enough photos to do a post on Akamine. That’s been made easier in recent years since he joined Instagram. He’s also become something of an online style celebrity, often making appearances on street style accounts such as Jamie Ferguson, Sartorial Notes, Flannels & Tweed, and Thousand Yard Style. The Rake Japan’s fashion editor, Yuko Fujita, documented Akamine’s personal wardrobe. I’ve also written two other posts about him. Lastly, the Japanese YouTube channel Forza Style regularly features Akamine. He talks about general men’s style topics and covers basics such as how to press trousers, tie a tie, wear a gray suit, and accessorize an outfit. They also tour Akamine’s little vintage shop. Hopefully, those videos will hold you over until I can find another fifty photos for a post on the most stylish man alive.