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Norimitsu Shibayama - Chairman of the Japan Modelist Association, given the highest certification by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare, and President of SUN MODE STUDIO LTD. Shibayama has also been awarded the IDA Award by the International Association of Clothing Designers and Executives (IACDE). In November 2016, the Governor of Tokyo awarded him the Tokyo Master Award. He is a true artisan.
Yoshio Sadasue - Chairman of Kamakura Shirts. He worked for VAN Jacket building experience in sales, promotion, logistics, and product planning until the firm’s bankruptcy. He then worked for several fashion brands until starting Kamakura Shirts in 1993, a brand that now boasts 25 stores in Japan. In Fall 2012, Sadasue’s dream finally came true when he opened his first overseas store on Madison Avenue, New York, the center of gentlemen’s fashion. His aim is to prove the quality and skill that Japanese manufacturing can offer to the world.
Where did you two meet?

Sadasue: 30 years ago, Mr. Shibayama worked at Avon House, while I was at VAN Jacket. No matter how hard we tried, our suit jackets never looked as good as those at Avon House. Back then I was the Sales Manager at the Osaka office, and I visited the president of Avon House to find out how they made such great jackets. He told me that they had a treasure called Shibayama, and that they were making garments under his supervision. I recall wondering who this miraculous person was.
Shibayama: Mr. Sadasue gave a talk at a convention for the Japan Modelist Association (an association of Japanese patternmakers) in 2003. Since then, Mr. Sadasue has been in the papers quite often and is well-known as a famous shirt maker. Of course I knew of him before, but I’ve seen Kamakura Shirts flourish ever since then.
Sadasue: So that talk was 13 years ago…It was just after the opening of our Marunouchi store. In 2010, a new project to protect manufacturing (monozukuri) in Japan began and we were both invited to be on the panel for an open discussion. Since then, we’ve seen each other in waiting rooms whenever we’ve attended the same events. To be honest, I wanted to ask for Mr. Shibayama’s help even before I started Kamakura Shirts. He always seemed so busy, and I hesitated to approach him. But now that we’ve opened stores in New York, we’ve started to get detailed requests about how the shirt should fit even if it’s off-the-shelf. They say that if it’s made in Japan, that kind of quality is achievable. It was around that time that we began producing our Napoli dress shirts. When I wore those shirts, I could feel that they fitted ever so slightly differently on my body. I was certain that I had to ask for Mr. Shibayama’s help to perfect this new model in Japan and so I begged Mr. Shibayama - who had said he was going to retire at 70 - to stay on an extra five years until he was 75. That’s how we laid the foundations to take on the world with our shirts.
Shibayama: After Mr. Sadasue came to me with this proposal, things moved quickly. It’s in my nature to give it my all when I accept a job. Though my specialty is in making patterns for suits, shirts are their close partners. From my own experience of working on shirts and learning from my mistakes, I’ve developed my own convictions that I’m happy to be able to utilize.

What can you two deliver?

Sadasue: Of course, in terms of the pattern, I think our shirts have always been something to be proud of. But when you consider the actual sewing of the shirts, then it’s another matter entirely whether the “blueprints” (the patterns) that you’ve prepared can actually be done by the manufacturing division. So you need the “engineer” to teach the manufacturing team how to sew exactly as the blueprints tell them to. Only someone like Mr. Shibayama, who started out in the factories, can do that. There’s only a few people who can plan out these magnificent designs while also being able to demonstrate the sewing process. And one of them happens to be Norimitsu Shibayama. I wanted to show what manufacturing in Japan could achieve. Our shirts aren’t made in Japan for the name value. Shirts are structural objects. The current consensus in apparel lacks that understanding, and it’s not enough to simply follow fashion trends if you want to provide customers with the fit they want. My current aim is to conquer the world with “the shirt that is closest to how the body is”.
Shibayama: My sartorial life began at a tailor. Manufacturing is the most important part, and only then do you consider the pattern…I know what kind of pattern is easy to sew. Although you might have a patternmaker working at a brand, often all they do is create a pattern and pass it along to the factory. That won’t create anything special. You must be aware of the patterns you make - the characteristics and where to take caution - and then explain how it can be made…Otherwise the factories won’t know how to reflect the spirit of the company. We’re really lacking those who can communicate what is required from the pattern. If the manufacturing is done overseas, or through a trading company, then I think you can only really achieve 60% of what the product planning team initially set out to make.

What exactly is this new Manhattan model?

Shibayama: Shirts were originally undergarments. Then they were gradually worn under suits and now people don’t even wear jackets over their shirts. First of all, it’s important for the area around the neck to look elegant, and it must look good even without a tie. You need to carefully consider the balance. The new pattern has been engineered with an improved balance between the collar, neck and chest. As Mr. Sadasue said earlier, the shirts made in Italy are sewn in normal factories but somehow they feel different when worn. For the seamsters there, what they are doing comes naturally. But if you wanted to replicate that in Japan, it can’t be done merely by altering the pattern. It requires the technique to control the sewing machine. When you adjust the direction or how you sew, it’s reflected in the shirt. The new model has taken into consideration the balance of how the shirt looks, as well as how it fits, and how the roll of the collar appears.
Sadasue: I’ve mentioned this before in my blog, but the difference is noticeable as soon as you wear it. And no words can do the shirt justice. I could feel the difference immediately. I believe our fans, both in Japan and New York, will see that Kamakura Shirts is evolving.
Shibayama: It’s a shame that the change isn’t noticeable when folded, but you will notice it when you try it on. I hope that our shirts reach as many people as possible.
Sadasue: I think we’ve managed to create a shirt the whole world has been waiting for. I think it’s going to start a craze. Fashion is like food - whether it’s good or bad is judged by others. The new Manhattan Model is like a delicious dish where people won’t wait to compliment you. It’s a great gift because you’ll be wearing an extremely stylish shirt in the eyes of others without you realizing it. I ask everyone to be the judge of true value.

Where did you two meet?

Sadasue:30 years ago, Mr. Shibayama worked at Avon House, while I was at VAN Jacket. No matter how hard we tried, our suit jackets never looked as good as those at Avon House. Back then I was the Sales Manager at the Osaka office, and I visited the president of Avon House to find out how they made such great jackets. He told me that they had a treasure called Shibayama, and that they were making garments under his supervision. I recall wondering who this miraculous person was.
Shibayama: Mr. Sadasue gave a talk at a convention for the Japan Modelist Association (an association of Japanese patternmakers) in 2003. Since then, Mr. Sadasue has been in the papers quite often and is well-known as a famous shirt maker. Of course I knew of him before, but I’ve seen Kamakura Shirts flourish ever since then.
Sadasue: So that talk was 13 years ago…It was just after the opening of our Marunouchi store. In 2010, a new project to protect manufacturing (monozukuri) in Japan began and we were both invited to be on the panel for an open discussion. Since then, we’ve seen each other in waiting rooms whenever we’ve attended the same events. To be honest, I wanted to ask for Mr. Shibayama’s help even before I started Kamakura Shirts. He always seemed so busy, and I hesitated to approach him. But now that we’ve opened stores in New York, we’ve started to get detailed requests about how the shirt should fit even if it’s off-the-shelf. They say that if it’s made in Japan, that kind of quality is achievable. It was around that time that we began producing our Napoli dress shirts. When I wore those shirts, I could feel that they fitted ever so slightly differently on my body. I was certain that I had to ask for Mr. Shibayama’s help to perfect this new model in Japan and so I begged Mr. Shibayama - who had said he was going to retire at 70 - to stay on an extra five years until he was 75. That’s how we laid the foundations to take on the world with our shirts.
Shibayama: After Mr. Sadasue came to me with this proposal, things moved quickly. It’s in my nature to give it my all when I accept a job. Though my specialty is in making patterns for suits, shirts are their close partners. From my own experience of working on shirts and learning from my mistakes, I’ve developed my own convictions that I’m happy to be able to utilize.

What can you two deliver?

Sadasue: Of course, in terms of the pattern, I think our shirts have always been something to be proud of. But when you consider the actual sewing of the shirts, then it’s another matter entirely whether the “blueprints” (the patterns) that you’ve prepared can actually be done by the manufacturing division. So you need the “engineer” to teach the manufacturing team how to sew exactly as the blueprints tell them to. Only someone like Mr. Shibayama, who started out in the factories, can do that. There’s only a few people who can plan out these magnificent designs while also being able to demonstrate the sewing process. And one of them happens to be Norimitsu Shibayama. I wanted to show what manufacturing in Japan could achieve. Our shirts aren’t made in Japan for the name value. Shirts are structural objects. The current consensus in apparel lacks that understanding, and it’s not enough to simply follow fashion trends if you want to provide customers with the fit they want. My current aim is to conquer the world with “the shirt that is closest to how the body is”.
Shibayama: My sartorial life began at a tailor. Manufacturing is the most important part, and only then do you consider the pattern…I know what kind of pattern is easy to sew. Although you might have a patternmaker working at a brand, often all they do is create a pattern and pass it along to the factory. That won’t create anything special. You must be aware of the patterns you make - the characteristics and where to take caution - and then explain how it can be made…Otherwise the factories won’t know how to reflect the spirit of the company. We’re really lacking those who can communicate what is required from the pattern. If the manufacturing is done overseas, or through a trading company, then I think you can only really achieve 60% of what the product planning team initially set out to make.

What exactly is this new Manhattan model?

Shibayama: Shirts were originally undergarments. Then they were gradually worn under suits and now people don’t even wear jackets over their shirts. First of all, it’s important for the area around the neck to look elegant, and it must look good even without a tie. You need to carefully consider the balance. The new pattern has been engineered with an improved balance between the collar, neck and chest. As Mr. Sadasue said earlier, the shirts made in Italy are sewn in normal factories but somehow they feel different when worn. For the seamsters there, what they are doing comes naturally. But if you wanted to replicate that in Japan, it can’t be done merely by altering the pattern. It requires the technique to control the sewing machine. When you adjust the direction or how you sew, it’s reflected in the shirt. The new model has taken into consideration the balance of how the shirt looks, as well as how it fits, and how the roll of the collar appears.
Sadasue: I’ve mentioned this before in my blog, but the difference is noticeable as soon as you wear it. And no words can do the shirt justice. I could feel the difference immediately. I believe our fans, both in Japan and New York, will see that Kamakura Shirts is evolving.
Shibayama: It’s a shame that the change isn’t noticeable when folded, but you will notice it when you try it on. I hope that our shirts reach as many people as possible.
Sadasue: I think we’ve managed to create a shirt the whole world has been waiting for. I think it’s going to start a craze. Fashion is like food - whether it’s good or bad is judged by others. The new Manhattan Model is like a delicious dish where people won’t wait to compliment you. It’s a great gift because you’ll be wearing an extremely stylish shirt in the eyes of others without you realizing it. I ask everyone to be the judge of true value.

Collar
The inside and outside of the collar use different patterns to create a beautifully engineered, compact design. By using the technique known as shirring, we’ve created an elegant collar that wraps around your neck.
Body
The shirt pattern has been improved by making the front panel larger and the back smaller than our previous slim fit. For a slim appearance and fit, the waist point and back darts have been lowered too.
Sleeves
The sleeves have been made slimmer, and naturally point forward. The curve of the sleeve has been tailored to match that of the jacket, which in turn means the cuff of the shirt sleeve and the jacket are parallel.
Details
The smaller 9 mm diameter top button complements the sharp look of the collar. To match the elegant feel of the new model, the front placket, sleeve placket and stitch width have been narrowed.