In Review - Kapital Denim Peacoat


I have to admit I hate being called "dapper." Don't get me wrong - though it usually comes in the form of a compliment and from a good place, the term just suggests to me a certain sense of silly peacockiness that brings to mind all of the polka dot bowties, skintight suits, bright socks, and the most cringeworthy aspects of #menswear in the past decade (of which I am not without blame). It also implies a somewhat fanciful impression I try to avoid - in part because I look young so it can be harder to dress well without looking affected or like I'm "playing dress up," and in part because it's just not my personality. So when I shop, I consciously avoid buying clothes someone might look at and say "oh, your outfit is so fun!"

Kapital challenges me in this regard.

Mr. Porter Sale
I like many Japanese brands for their unique takes on Western menswear, and Kapital is one of them, but Kapital often pushes into territories that I feel can only be comfortably inhabited by homeless nomad cowboys. And there's no debating - Kapital is undeniably fun. Still, at its core Kapital produces some incredible and cohesive clothing (their indigo and denim are the stuff of legend), and the more center-leaning designs I usually love. When the Mr. Porter semi-annual sale over the summer had Kapital's denim peacoat on sale for $178.50 (!) from list $595 USD, I jumped on it.

Suck it, Nordstrom Semi-Annual Sale
 
Then I stuffed it in my closet and waited 4-5 months before it got cool enough to wear. Over the past month, however, it's finally been put to good use.

Design, Materials and Construction



The venerable peacoat has roots that travel centuries deep, and is traditionally constructed in a shorter length, double breasted design from heavy wool to keep out the harsh elements while simultaneously allowing full range of motion for your legs to climb ship roping.

Alternate peacoat configurations

Kapital takes this basic framework and reinterprets it in a midweight indigo cotton twill, which is suprisingly soft in hand from the get-go and a beautiful shade of blue. I've only had the chance to wear it here and there, but at points of stress and friction you can already see some of the indigo starting to fade wonderfully. As an amateur denim enthusiast, this is exciting.


Despite the somewhat weathered appearance that Kapital garments tend to have, the craftsmanship is generally good, though not alone commanding of the price point, in my opinion, at least on this piece. Stitching is solid and the seams are all finished, with tightly-finished buttonholes at the lapels and a reinforced-stitched collar.

The jacket features an expected double breasted button configuration, though placed in a slightly wonky, off-kilter tapering orientation as you travel down, as if it were made in someone's home, and that person was perhaps drunk. Looking to the sides, you'll find vertical welted pockets lined in surprise corduroy as well as a single horizontal breast pocket on the left, accompanied by a buttoning loop on the left side seam that I have yet to figure out the hell it's for (a sword, maybe?).

If you know what this is, please let me know

And then come the buttons. Oh, the buttons. Traditional buttons on a pea coat are sometimes brass but more commonly thick black plastic imprinted with an anchor wrapped in rope. The Kapital buttons, however, are painted in gold glittery paint with an anchor surrounded by twelve gold dots, an arts-and-craftsy rough facsimile of the buttons with thirteen stars around the anchor used during WWI. It doesn't quite have the gaudy visual impact you might expect, but one could definitely say that they seem fanciful or "fun." The buttons are clearly hand-painted as well, and the combined effect is probably my least favorite detail on the coat - and something I've considered replacing with brass or even a more muted horn.

Kapital anchor buttons
On the interior of the coat you'll find a right breast pocket for small personal effects, and the whole garment is entirely unlined except for the sleeves, which are finished in a complementary printed rayon seen peaking out of the cuffs when upturned. Around those sleeves is a strap that can tighten down the cuffs in inclement weather.

Rayon printed lining and adjustable cuffs

All over the coat you find interesting and unexpected details, most of which I like (I love the sleeve lining, for instance) but many that you could also call "kooky," or maybe even "zany" - and this is relatively staid for Kapital. But take it or leave it, that's part of the charm.

Sizing, Fit, and Styling



I'm not a big guy by American standards - 5'11" 155 lbs, usually taking a small or slim medium shirt/36R to 38R suit jacket depending on the maker, but apparently in Japan I'm Godzilla. If you're bigger than I am, I guess that makes you Mechagodzilla. And I doubt they are making clothes that fit him.

While trying to size the jacket online, I found a Japanese size chart somewhere on the interwebs that looked like I was going to be a size 4 or something akin to a "large," but I ordered the coat in size 3 and 4 to make sure (Mr. Porter's return policy is free and amazing). Turns out I was right - the size 4 fits well in the shoulders and slim through the body as a peacoat should, with slightly long sleeves that I turn the cuffs up on - I suspect as intended. I'd advise some caution in translating this sizing across the board, however. Niche brands have a tendency to be all over the board - take Kapital's own vaunted century denim jeans, for example: they are reverse vanity sized. Take a moment to let that sink in. Is it because in America we like to think of ourselves as smaller than we really are, and in Japan the opposite is true? Unclear, but it makes for some dicey sizing situations.


Also pictured: Shirt - Faherty, Scarf - H&M
In terms of styling, despite it small quirks the Kapital peacoat is still a fairly conservative design on the whole and pairs easily with most casual wear. I obsess about details because I'm a clothing nerd, but in practice they're much more subtle than they sound. I've found myself throwing the coat on over a chambray shirt with a pair of chinos and casual boots, or even layering it with my Naked and Famous noragi style kimono shirt, which is orders of magnitude more Asian-feeling than this actual Japanese-made coat. Still, if that's too much for you, I think the jacket blends in easily with what most guys would be comfortable wearing.


Seeing as its mostly unlined and a not heavyweight cotton, the coat is comfortable anytime you'd wear a light fall/spring jacket, like the classic denim trucker you probably already own. I wouldn't count on it to keep you warm in the winter, but it would be perfect for a two or three season coat, depending on where you live.

Impressions and Value



Kapital design represents the culmination of decades of Western appropriation, obsession and recreation, and subsequent development of traditional western heritage wear into its own distinct entity. And like most distinct flavors, it is difficult to feel lukewarm about - you usually either really like it or you really don't. Often, the fun details lie outside the realm of what I would care or dare to wear, though I generally find their more conservative designs to be fantastic. For that matter, most of the stores that import Japanese brands like this (such as No Man Walks Alone, Mr. Porter, and Unionmade Goods) tend to curate the more muted pieces anyway, for what it's worth.


I've seen plenty of other denim peacoats around (Schott, Mr. Freedom, Nudie, etc), but not many with the subtle quirkiness and character that Kapital has put into theirs, and none with a similar finish - that's not to say they're worse, but just that this one stands apart. While the denim and construction are notable, at a certain price point it's design and exclusivity that command the lion's share of the price point. Add to that the markup that comes with importing Japanese clothes into the US, and now you have a denim peacoat that lists at $595 USD.

My purchasing philosophy minimizes risk by buying foreign, avante-garde and "higher risk" clothing in person or from vendors with good return/exchange policies, unless I am certain of my size and styling. This is all countered by also trying to find the lowest prices, which can often seem mutually exclusive. However, twice a year the stars align for the Mr. Porter semi annual sale, one of the deepest cutting sales around on its own combined with a fantastic selection of clothing and an unmolested return policy - something extremely rare to find on a true closeout sale. Similar sales with higher risk would be the hard to predict Unionmade Archive Sale (of which there are supposedly none in the near future), and the post-season clearance sales at No Man Walks Alone.


If you're intrigued or interested in checking out something like this but reflexively throw up in your mouth every time you get to the price, you're not alone. I too have MSRP bulemia. But all hope is not lost - sales like these offer a window into designers you otherwise wouldn't be willing or able to take a chance on, and more than once I've found my most cherished pieces during such events. It just takes some patience and, when the time comes, a quick trigger finger. Otherwise, the only other way to try all these Japanese brands out risk free is to just go to Japan.

In summary, Kapital isn't for everyone, but if you're interested in the aesthetic and can find it on sale I don't think you'll be disappointed. Especially if you're a roaming gypsy cowpoke.



By the way, I actually am going to Japan in a few weeks. A host of pictures and impressions to come. Or alternatively, pictures of my wife looking pissed standing in Blue Blue Japan (it's ok, she never reads this far down).


Pros


Unique and quirky but with a strong, cohesive design aesthetic
Beautiful Japanese indigo dyed denim
Approachable price point on sale, if you can find it

Cons


Expensive for most, and priced at a premium for design
Sizing can be very difficult
Scarce availability
Kapital design can extend far beyond the borders of accepted mainstream norms

Where To Buy


Note - Most of this list sells largely at retail, though Unionmade is known to have fairly scheduled 40% off sales, and rarely an Archive sale (which is what I would wait for from them). Mr. Porter is clearly the best for pricing among them during sales.

Mr. Porter - Also take a look at Blue Blue Japan, Tomorrowland, Beams Plus, Visvim. Mr. Porter actually has a dedicated special section just for Japanese designers.
Unionmade Goods - SF based store with a great selection, also usually posts size charts on most items
Context Clothing - Midwest USA store with some incredible collections and independent collaborations
Blue in Green Soho
Haven - Canada based retailer, for all you crazy Canucks (meant in the warmest way possible)

Comments

  1. Nice review! Looks very dapper on you.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Very dapper looking you're getting from the peacoat.

    I ordered size S back then and trying it on made me wanna go to the gym right away. I'm usually size S and 36S.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! I can't imagine trying to fit myself into a S or M. Good luck at the gym :P

      Delete

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