New Kamakura "Sport" line with unlined collars

Quorum

New Member
Kamakura today announced a new line of OCBDs with unlined collars and cuffs: https://www.kamakurashirts.net/shop/pages/sport_m.aspx?gh180829.

I'm excited by this because the quality of Kamakura's OCBDs has always been excellent, but the very stiff interlining used in their standard line ruined them for me. At $89 and made in Japan, this could be a good alternative to Mercer and Michael Spencer for fellow unlined-collar purists. I'm looking forward to stopping by one of their stores to check these out in person.

I thought this bit of marketing copy was interesting, and I suspect many here will appreciate the dig at today's Brooks:

Kamakura Shirts could not have made it in New York without the button-down shirt.
Dress shirts were invented in England and they were popular all around the world. However, the button-down shirt (B.D. Shirt) was an American invention, and it’s well-known that Brooks Brothers began selling them from around 1890.

Its origins lie in the collars of polo shirts being buttoned down to prevent it from rolling up during the sport. It must’ve seemed like an unusual shirt at the time. Nevertheless, the B.D. shirt established its status as a symbol of the United States, possibly to rival the fashion in Britain, or simply because it was just a sensible design. Students of the eight American Ivy League universities favored these B.D. shirts as everyday “traditional” American clothing. Likewise, the B.D. shirts became to represent American fashion, as it became a style that American people were proud of. I had the fortune of working under Mr. Kensuke Ishizu, who, after researching these eight universities (The Ivy League), helped spread the IVY LOOK across Japan. That was 50 years ago, but it is said that now in America, the birthplace of this IVY STYLE, there is no real following of this trend any more, and the IVY LOOK has only been handed down in Japan. However, American people who grew up in wealthy homes can recall their childhood surrounded by this style of fashion. Many still feel affection and nostalgia for the clothing of gentlemen and ladies of that time.

In the year 2008, we reached the decision to open a store in New York and started our research. In the meantime, Brooks Brothers, a brand in the hearts of many, had shifted towards a more Italian taste and the good old B.D. shirts were now using wrinkle-resistant fabrics. There was none of that old nostalgic look of the collar roll, and the complaints that once came from the New Yorkers gradually piped down to become words of disappointed acceptance.

Fortunately, I also knew a thing or two about the B.D. shirts of the good old days. Why not use this knowledge as a weapon and revive the button-down shirts that New Yorker’s would crave? If we could do that and show appreciation for this long-lost style, I was sure that the American market would accept this new Japanese brand. That was why we were secretly confident.

From the opening day, button-down enthusiasts poured into our store. “How come you guys know so much about the collar roll?” “Is this really ‘Made in Japan’?” “How can you stay in business with this kind of price?” “Why does the Englishman, Graham Marsh, recommend you guys so heavily?” (Mr. Graham Marsh is a jazz and IVY LOOK researcher/enthusiast, and his book “THE IVY LOOK” was a best-seller.) As they enquired, they praised the B.D. shirts they tried on. None of the discrimination I had expected occurred. If anything, the people in New York welcomed the arrival of ‘Made in Japan’ products, given that the main option in the United States was ‘Made in China’. I was moved by the open-mindedness, and the culture that was eager to accept and acknowledge items of good quality.

Five years have passed since we gained ground in New York. The local New Yorkers have requested an even higher level of B.D. shirts. This entailed the reproduction of something close to the original B.D shirts, which were from a period when shirts had no interlining.

Where two pieces of fabric overlap, interlining was used to give thickness and set in place the upper and lower shirting. Therefore, interlining was essential. There are very few factories that could sew a shirt without interlining. Still, if we could accomplish a shirt without interlining, the collar roll would have an elegant finish and the good old shirts from the past archive will spring back to life.

Thankfully, the staff with the skills to reproduce these shirts were still working in the factory where VAN Jacket’s shirts had been sewn in the past.

It’s August 2018 and Kamakura Shirts has launched a new B.D. shirt called “SPORT”. We’re truly confident in this new creation since our company is quite possibly the only one that can create B.D. shirts that closely resembles the button-downs of the good old days.

The B.D. shirt is a unique and a convenient shirt, as it may be worn as a dress shirt, while at other times as a casual shirt. It was born out of America’s practical-mindedness, and has grown into something that signifies nostalgia and comfort.

50 years ago, 300 thousand VAN Jacket fans cherished this B.D. shirt.​
 

Tiger

Elite Member
Purchased three Kamakura shirts that fit well when new, but after a couple of launderings they shrunk to an uncomfortably small size. Very disappointing...
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
Yesterday, I visited Kamakura here in NYC and purchased the "new" OCBD with the unlined collar and cuffs (pics below for those who want to avoid my blah, blah, blah).

I am (no complaints) not old enough to remember OCBDs when they were - according to Ivy history - made this way as every OCBD I've ever bought since the Arrow brand ones I got as a kid in the '70s - as my one "nice" shirt - always had some inner structure to the collar and cuffs (at least they always felt that way).

So for me, feeling this Kamakura shirt was a bit like reaching into history (without a time machine), but I had nothing to draw upon to judge. All I can say is the collar and cuffs feel unlined which, to be honest, feels a bit flimsy, but I can also see how it creates a shirt with a casual look and feel (the OCBD of lore). I'm excited to see what it feels like when I wear it and equally excited to see how it "ages."

To that end - as I do this with all new shirts - I washed it this morning. For my casual OCBDs (i.e., the ones I wear with jeans or chinos / not with a tie), I wash them, put them on low heat in the dryer and, then, remove promptly. Perhaps, owing to the lack of lining, this one was more wrinkled and required a quick hit with the hand-held steamer to make it presentable (not a flaw, just noting it). Now I'm all ready to go once the weather dials it down from blast-furnace heat.

Not to start a debate, but personally, I was disappointed that the shirt doesn't have a third collar button or locker loop. However, when I was in the store, I was shown what Kamakura calls its Vintage Ivy shirts which have all of those cool features (one even has a tab collar that I really, really wanted) plus they are made from a very heavy Oxford Cloth that felt awesome. However, they are alpha sized and this 15-34 sized guy was out of luck as the closest fit was the medium at 15.5 - 32.5 which was just too short in the sleeves for me. Otherwise, I'd have walked out of there with four or five shirts as I like the Vintage line that much. (You can check them out on-line here: just be very careful about sizing.)

And that is a nice lead into discussing the very good quirkiness of the store. I have never been to Japan, but have done a lot of business with Japanese business people and firms and, based on those experiences, I'd say the store has a very Japanese approach and feel.

Having started yesterday's "tour" at Brook Brothers, where, at different times, I was approached by two sloppily attired (I kid you not) salespeople with a loud American casualness - friendly in the "'hi, what can I show you / let me know if you need any help' shouted at you" way - Kamakura was a pleasant change where (I believe) a young Japanese woman - thoughtfully and understatedly attired - in a quietly pleasant manner asked if I'd like any assistance.

I would shop in stores more often and buy more if all salespeople were like the ones at Kamakura. She - and one other salesperson who assisted - did everything professionally. They made me feel like finding the right fit was all that mattered; they brought shirts to me, unpackaged them and took them away almost without me noticing the process and they put no pressure - at all - on me to buy (even in that passive aggressive way so many salespeople are good at).

And this is not a super high-end store - the shirt cost $89 which is much less than Brook's $140 (cue the hallowed music) "original" OCBD. I also like that the checkout process wasn't the perfunctory "grab, ring, bag and say goodbye quickly" event that it is at most stores. While Kamakura didn't make a fuss at all, there was a respect shown to you that you were buying something from them: "I'm going to charge your card now for $89, is that okay?", the unobtrusive but nice pointing out the total on the slip and handing you your card back face up. Real or not, it made you feel like they respected that you were spending money in their store.

But here's the hitch, along with the wonderful Japanese culture comes Japanese sizing converted to inches, but not altered, for Americans - hence, the "medium" alpha-sized shirt with 32.5" sleeves. Medium sizes in America usually have 34" or 34.5" sleeves.

And all the numeric sizes are different. I had to buy a 15.5" collar to get a 34 1/3" sleeve, which is okay as I won't wear this shirt with a tie (I want to as I'd like to see the unlined collar roll with a tie, but the collar is just too big), but it basically means I can't buy Kamakura dress shirts. And - at least in the new unlined-collar OCBD, the cut is slim or - that's it, that's your option. Even for this 6'1" 150" very thin American, I would have preferred a touch more room. To be fair, in the dress shirts, they told me they have a less-slim option, but the collar and sleeve lengths are still Japanese.

That's it. A great experience - other stores could learn from Kamakura, but I wish they sized for Americans - sigh.

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Quorum

New Member
I also bought one of the new shirts this weekend. One correction: the Sport shirts are offered in both Slim and Classic fit (see here: https://www.kamakurashirts.net/shop/e/esport/). I was able to buy a classic fit white OCBD at the Madison Avenue store on Sunday.

I too am too young to remember the days when wild unlined collars walked the land, but I do have some experience with the style having bought a number of Mercer OCBDs (all unlined) over the years. The Kamakura shirts are made from a lighter-weight oxford cloth than Mercer's, which makes the collars and cuffs effectively softer. I like these shirts quite a bit--when the days are in the 90s, Mercer OCBDs are just too heavy.

The classic fit (size 42-90, approximately 16.5-35.5) works well for me. It's not as billowy as Mercer, but it's not constricting at all. Like the earlier poster, I have had Kamakura shirts shrink on me in the past, so I won't be putting this one in the dryer. After one wash/hang-dry cycle it seems to be keeping its size well enough. (The salesperson did mention that unlike their standard shirts, these are pre-washed; not sure if that affects future shrinkage. The pre-washing is not aggressive at all and I don't think I'd have noticed if she hadn't told me.)

Here's a photo if you want to evaluate the collar roll (though I am not wearing a tie); avert your eyes if you are afraid of wrinkles.

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Overall, I'm very pleased with this shirt. I'll keep buying Mercer, but it's nice to have a solid alternative to fill out the wardrobe at a much lower cost. I hope they add pink and yellow shirts down the road. (I was told that university stripe options are coming later this year, but I don't know if they'll have additional solids.)
 

SG_67

Connoisseur
Thank you both for the great review!

Could you tell me if these were at the Mad Ave location or the location downtown? I’m going there next month and usually shop at the Madison Ave location.
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
I also bought one of the new shirts this weekend. One correction: the Sport shirts are offered in both Slim and Classic fit (see here: https://www.kamakurashirts.net/shop/e/esport/). I was able to buy a classic fit white OCBD at the Madison Avenue store on Sunday.

I too am too young to remember the days when wild unlined collars walked the land, but I do have some experience with the style having bought a number of Mercer OCBDs (all unlined) over the years. The Kamakura shirts are made from a lighter-weight oxford cloth than Mercer's, which makes the collars and cuffs effectively softer. I like these shirts quite a bit--when the days are in the 90s, Mercer OCBDs are just too heavy.

The classic fit (size 42-90, approximately 16.5-35.5) works well for me. It's not as billowy as Mercer, but it's not constricting at all. Like the earlier poster, I have had Kamakura shirts shrink on me in the past, so I won't be putting this one in the dryer. After one wash/hang-dry cycle it seems to be keeping its size well enough. (The salesperson did mention that unlike their standard shirts, these are pre-washed; not sure if that affects future shrinkage. The pre-washing is not aggressive at all and I don't think I'd have noticed if she hadn't told me.)

Here's a photo if you want to evaluate the collar roll (though I am not wearing a tie); avert your eyes if you are afraid of wrinkles.

View attachment 23974

Overall, I'm very pleased with this shirt. I'll keep buying Mercer, but it's nice to have a solid alternative to fill out the wardrobe at a much lower cost. I hope they add pink and yellow shirts down the road. (I was told that university stripe options are coming later this year, but I don't know if they'll have additional solids.)
Thank you both for the great review!

Could you tell me if these were at the Mad Ave location or the location downtown? I’m going there next month and usually shop at the Madison Ave location.

Clearly Quorum is correct on the two cuts which means I didn't ask my question clearly or didn't understand the answer. And that's a shame as I believe the fuller cut would have been better for me - ah, next time.

I, too, was told the new OCBD was pre-washed so there should be no or only the smallest amount of shrinking which is good as I don't have much room to give away.

SG67, I bought mine at the Madison store and they seemed well stocked in them.
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
I read on the website that the yoke was narrower. Did the fit feel weird at all?

They are based on a Japanese fit, so they definitely feel different, but I can't say it was the yoke that made the difference. Instead, it's the entire cut that feels "off" to an American body.

I found my way after several tries to one that felt pretty good (unfortunately, owing to confusion between the salesperson and me, I didn't realize there was a normal - not slim - cut), but I had to go up in the neck size to the point that it would never work with a tie (but I wear my OCBDs without ties most of the time, so no big deal).

I think most would find it hard to buy a Kamakura shirt without first trying several on as - as noted - it is just not based on a fit pattern for the Western world. Another example - Kamakura's medium (in its alpha sized shirts) have an ~32.5" sleeve length; whereas, in the West, most alpha-sized mediums have a 34"-35" sleeve.
 

shygddt

Starting Member
They are based on a Japanese fit, so they definitely feel different, but I can't say it was the yoke that made the difference. Instead, it's the entire cut that feels "off" to an American body.

I found my way after several tries to one that felt pretty good (unfortunately, owing to confusion between the salesperson and me, I didn't realize there was a normal - not slim - cut), but I had to go up in the neck size to the point that it would never work with a tie (but I wear my OCBDs without ties most of the time, so no big deal).

I think most would find it hard to buy a Kamakura shirt without first trying several on as - as noted - it is just not based on a fit pattern for the Western world. Another example - Kamakura's medium (in its alpha sized shirts) have an ~32.5" sleeve length; whereas, in the West, most alpha-sized mediums have a 34"-35" sleeve.

I'm a similar size as you (6'0, 150lbs) and I've found that their sizing is alright as long as I get the NY fit. The two vintage ivy shirts I have are in NY fit size L and they were 16.5/35, which shrunk down to 16/34ish after washing, which fit me really well. I also have one of their shirts in NY classic fit, size 41/90 (16/35.5). After washing, the neck was right where I liked it (16ish), but the sleeves were a tad longer than what I'm used to. I mainly just wanted to ask about the narrow yoke, which I found kind of confusing. Why would they make it smaller?

Also, I absolutely agree about the Madison Ave store providing a fantastic shopping experience. Originally, I went there hoping to find one of the vintage ivy shirts from a few seasons ago, and walked out of there with a couple of pinpoint shirts. Such great customer service makes me want to visit Japan even more.
 
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