Vintage style is something you never really see anymore. It makes sense that people have an aversion to it, as it can come off as a costume or kitsch. As a vintage enthusiast myself, I was confident that all it needed was an example of someone doing it right. Enter in Ethan Newton and Kenji Cheung, the owners of Bryceland’s, the latest menswear haberdashery in Japan and HK. I think they make a strong case for incorporating vintage style in the modern world, though theirs is very subtle.
Unlike a lot of the other “menswear ateliers” that have opened up in recent memory, Bryceland’s stands out because of its old-school -almost rugged- vibe. They might work with contemporary tailors like Dalcuore, W.W Chan, and Ambrosi Napoli, but they also stock rayon sports shirts from Groovin High, 1947 reproduction denim, and have even held trunk shows with vintage pickers. All of this results in a unique look; you can spot Ethan in a sawtooth denim shirt worn under a suit or Kenji in a Dalcuore DB with wide-legged military chinos. The look may not be for everyone, but we can’t deny that it’s certainly different from the regular menswear uniform we see from other stores.
Now you might say that vintage style is easy to pull off in casual/workwear attire; after all, it’s not hard to look good in a leather jacket, breezy rayon shirt, and selvedge denim. But what if I told you that the owners of Bryceland’s had a vintage look present in their sartorial style as well? It’s a little more subdued compared to their overtly old-school casual/workwear style, but it’s still there. Honestly, that’s what I prefer when looking for inspiration: great ways of making vintage look contemporary. I’m not really about looking period accurate when I step out the door, rather I focus on capturing a look that evokes timelessness while suiting modern situations.
One of the easier ways they incorporate a vintage look is by wearing striped shirts with printed ties. While it’s not exactly uncommon in our circles of vintage clothes aficionados, it’s an anomaly compared to the rest of the menswear world; most guys prefer to keep things rather plain. Ethan and Kenji offer a unique selection of patterned ties: instead of the tight geometric patterns that can be found on the WAYWT threads, you’ll find that their Sevenfold collaborations are a little more eclectic, with their prints being a little bit more abstract and spread out compared to the regular options. Even their striped ties stand out among the reps and regimental ties frequented by Ivy enthusiasts. As a whole, their ties have a vintage look to them, even if they were made recently.
They combine this eccentricity with their love of unique collars. Made in collaboration with bespoke shirtmaker Ascot Chang, Ethan and Kenji have developed a couple of different collar styles. One great example is their tab, club collar shirt. Unlike most collars today, the points are a little bit longer, with the tab giving a vintage feel to the shirt. When worn with a 3PC as they do, it simultaneously gives off a late 20s or even 1960s vibe. It might be a bit rakish for some, but it’s not costume-like in the slightest. Kenji and Ethan have also developed a button down collar that definitely seems to have been inspired by the classic Ivy style OCBD. Again, there are some slight vintage connotations, but it isn’t anything anachronistic.
Now let’s take a look at the tailoring itself. In general, they don’t really pick anything overly bold, which is usually done by “vintage” enthusiasts. You might see a Prince of Wales suit or a plaid tweed every once in a while, but they largely stick to subdued, plain colors like navy, brown, or even cream. These choices definitely help “ground in” the vintage style, which separates them from the more dandy vintage dressers.
Obviously, there are trends in classic tailoring, as high rise, pleats, and wide lapels no longer seem to be “old school” but are actually the trend. However, tweak some these details further, and it can result in an even more vintage look, even to seasoned bespoke enthusiasts. If we look at the Bryceland’s house model from Dalcuore, you’ll notice that they opt for a lowered gorge, which was the style back in the 1930s-1940s compared to the tailoring of today, which usually features the notch placed high on the chest – almost at the shoulder.
This attention to detail is continued in how they cut and style their DBs. Whether it’s from Dalcuore or W.W Chan, both Ethan and Kenji opt for straight horizontal lapels, again with a lowered gorge. Like the SB lapels, this goes against the grain from the rest of the menswear world, where most prefer a little bit of a belly to their peak lapels. For those who don’t know, horizontal peaks are characteristic of Golden Era Tailoring. In terms of trousers, they definitely like to have their pieces pleated and cut nice and full with just a little bit of taper. It’s most apparent on Ethan Newton, who has a larger frame, but you can still see that Kenji wears them as well. One great outfit that puts this all together is worn by Kenji on a wide, horizontal peak DB that features a fishtail trouser. It’s completely modern with an old-school charm.
One last thing that I’d like to point out is that they also accessorize their outfits well. We’ve heard that the white pocket square is the ultimate go-to, but it certainly hasn’t seen a lot of wear lately as most go for muted prints and designs. The plain white is classic and when done with a bit of nonchalance, definitely has a 1930s actor vibe to it, which is why they seem to wear it almost all the time. I’m also sure that the white pocket square is necessary when your tie choice is just a tad more adventurous than what others pick. White socks are also seen as what is presumably an Ivy throwback, though you can sometimes see it worn with dress trousers and suits instead of just chinos. Ethan and Kenji also add collar pins and tie bars for extra measure. While the former can sometimes be seen among more rakish dressers, the latter is certainly not: most gentlemen today either tuck their tie or let their blades run wild.
Looking back, a lot of what makes “vintage style” is doing things that no one does anymore. This doesn’t mean just wearing something old, but rather taking elements of a bygone era and incorporating them into the contemporary world. I think that Ethan Newton and Kenji Cheung do this exceptionally well. All of their stuff is still made today but with a tweak of the design, like a lapel shape or a tie with an interesting print, it gives you a Golden Era look.
They don’t opt for anything too bold either other than the occasional plaid or pinstripe, choosing for their suits the more muted tones of browns, blues, and greys, keeping things rather classic and versatile. Overall, I think they make the case that 1930s-1940s era styling can still be done. This idea helped me improve my own style, as I’ve moved beyond period authenticity, to making something a bit more contemporary with a few nods toward the Golden Era. Perhaps we can all take some inspiration of them and bring that vintage style in the modern day.
Latest posts by Ethan Wong (see all)
- Style Icons: Bryceland’s Ethan Newton and Kenji Cheung - May 9, 2018
- Menswear Thrifting: a Smart, Ethical Way to Shop - April 27, 2018
- Style Icons: Jimmy Stewart - April 7, 2018
- Men’s Hats Throughout the Years - March 27, 2018
- Presidential Style: The Best Dressed Presidents In History - February 18, 2018