Ginza Stylist – Koji Ukai

Kenichi Yoshino was visiting at a hair salon when all five items, suits, shirt, tie, belt, and shoes, were finished and ready to wear that day. Koji Ukai was giving a hairdresser instruction how to arrange Kenichi’s hair, bear, and eye blows shapes. Ukai said, “I advise madams not only hair style but also their make-up styles.” Furthermore, he suggests the best matching accessories or belongings for them, such as bag, glasses, watches, pens, lighters, wallets, and rings. He even selects the car brands or motorbike types that suit his clients best. “Basically a person who looks good in the spring or autumn color should suit gold accessories / belongings, while people fitting with the summer or winter color should wear silver.”
Now I would like you to look at Yoshino’s feet. He is wearing spectator shoes that made with Mackey sawing method. Now, Ukai told me the reason why he has nodded covertly when he measured the client’s foot size. “You may well think that Mr. Yoshino must go with robust type of shoes like the ones made by Tricker’s in England, the hard shoes manufactured through goodyear welt process.” The heavy hard types of shoes are durable having high quality to last long and also easy for maintenance, such as shoe sole repairs. American or British shoe makers produce these types often for men.
“But Yoshino was wearing beach sandals when he visited us for measurement. He must be used to walking in a reflexed manner, making foot flexible in his shoe. I assumed that he would feel difficult to walk and painful if he wore hard shoes like the ones made by goodyear welt method. The Mackey sawn shoes must be an answer.”
The merit of the Mackey sawing method is to be able to apply cork as thin as possible on shoe soles. So, even the new finished products provide soft reflexed touch on their soles and a person who wears those shoes feels as if his whole feet are covered up. Italian makers often produce this type of men’s shoes.
“Mr. Yoshino only wears suits in an urban jungle covered with asphalt. He is not like you, Mr. Urayama, you go anywhere with suits, walking into gravel roads or mountain paths in regional towns. Mr. Yoshino attends the meeting with advertising sponsors or other editorial staff, where he should put on a pair of elegant Mackey sawing made shoes.

The shirt for the editor should be beige and button-down style. Koji Ukai explained the reason, “I can recommend pure white shirts for a person suitable with winter colors, but not for others. A white shirt does not suit anyone who belongs to other seasonal colors, spring, summer, and autumn”. Being told that, I was so shocked as I had a strong belief that a white shirt is modesty of gentlemen.
The button-down shirts are basically for outdoor use. The polo player in England used to put buttons on his collars of shirts, so that the collars were not blown by wind. John Brooks from U.S. was given hints by seeing the polo-player and started to sell shirts whose collars are compactly buttoned up. This became really popular products and earned its position as a representative American shirt. Therefore in Europe, it’s been recognized as breach of manners if you wear button-down shirts indoors with no wind. However, the time has changed and we can see many men are wearing button-down shirts on their business.
“The button-down shirts are well calculated to tighten tie not easily in center of collar. Even a man who is not accustomed to wear ties can handle it. It is a really recommended shirt for those who do not put on ties every day.” The more and more people work without wearing ties nowadays in Japan, U.S, and even Europe, such a place of tradition. “The button-down shirt without tie is a good choice for Mr. Yoshino if he still wants to be formal under this extremely hot weather in Japan. The shirt keeps the collar shape even after unfastening the top button of his shirt, as well as your neckline is beautifully shown. It’s really crucial to have a clear V shape around your neck when you wear suits. The button-down shirt has its collar in higher position than other types of shirts, which makes your face look smaller and more shaped, when you open the collar of a shirt. You can avoid giving rude impression on occasions where ties are omitted.”
Ginza Stylist is a Tokyo branch of Owariya, the clothing store based in Nagoya. Owariya is a well-established company and has been running business for ninety years in 2016. The store was originally dealing with Japanese classic sandals, where Koji Ukai is the third generation of the owner. Koji has changed its main business from shoe shop to the clothing store in 1996.
Koji was giving advices to stylish customers at his shoe shop, Owariya. “Well, there is a jacket for you at the boutique around the corner. That’s definitely for you.” ‘You must try the skirt at that shop.” “The shoe brand X will fit to your fashion really.”
However, most customers turned up with unsuitable clothing when they visited Owariya next time. They wore the clothes from the same brand as Koji recommended, but the colors or forms they had selected weren’t good enough. “I asked them what had made them to pick up those fashions, and then found that they were following the suggestion from the shop assistant.”
I realized that the shop assistants must have assigned output quota. They must sell the latest fashion, so to speak, the seasonal items on release, to reach the higher quota performance of the month. Under this circumstance, they have to recommend the fashion which differs from the customer’s request, or from the reason of inventory clearance they must do the same. The latest fashion or mode of the brand, or the trendy color of the year can be pushed against customer’s individuality. If the worst comes to worst, the customers would be offered the clothes from the stocks.
“I have decided to offer the total fashion for my clients by tailoring it from the beginning, where no items are ready to be coordinated yet”.
The Owariya clothing store was established like this and they expanded the business to Ginza, Tokyo, in 2014. Now Koji Ukai divides his time between Nagoya and Tokyo. The shop has quite different character from ordinary ones, where no display shelves or stocks are found. On an opposite side of a coin, they don’t have to carry an inventory of products.
Ukai has learned the color / fashion analysis from ‘COLOR ME BEAUTIFUL’ , a created idea by Carol Jackson in Ameirca. He has also studied under Ms. Yasuko Satou, a qualified color consultant in Japan. He acquired the official color consultant qualification in 1991 as the first male consultant in Japan.
When I visited him in Nagoya and opened the door of the Owariya clothing store, I was a bit shocked. The hair makeup artists from local area were cutting hair of clients in a center of the floor, and shoe shining box were set in the back, along with a shoe shine expert, Gaku Satou, controlling the space.
Koji Ukai is the fashion “craftsman” consultant, and around him numbers of excellent craftsmen are supporting to substantialize his craftsmanship. Ukai’s eyes of craftsman highly cultivated select other excellent skills of craftsmen. To keep the network consisting of the chosen members is the foundation of his robustness as a craftsman. He conducts color / fashion type analysis on not only for Japanese nationals but for people from different nations or with different race. Why don’t you visit Ginza Stylist when you come to see Kabuki Theatre? Ukai will welcome you with a big smile, assuring your charm to be enhanced by 120 percent.
Interviewer & Author:Akitoshi Urayama
Photographer:Soudou Kawaguchi



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