Inspired by Saville Row tailoring and a distinct New York sensibility, menswear designer Todd Snyder has a devoted following worldwide, including halfway around the world in Japan. He’s just opened his first American flagship in New York, which includes a coffee shop, a barbershop and a partnership with 1stdibs on decor (meaning everything in the store is for sale). The designer took a moment to talk about another city he loves in this Tokyo Blackbook.
YOUR CLOTHES ARE BIG IN JAPAN, WHY DO YOU THINK YOUR CLOTHES HAVE CAUGHT ON WITH MEN THERE?
There’s a strong affinity in Japan for American style and for American menswear in particular, and it’s a relationship that’s interested me for a long time. I think it really centers on an appreciation for the classics, for tradition. In Japan, on the street and in magazines, there’s such admiration for iconic American elements like tailored suiting, military dress, army jackets, vintage denim. It’s a place that cares about quality, ritual and construction. And at the same time, it’s innovative and cutting edge. That’s probably why I’ve always been so drawn to Japan — we share an obsession with menswear iconography, filtered through a modern lens.
YOU ONCE CREATED A SUIT THAT WAS CALLED THE TRAVELER, WHAT IS IT?
I travel so much that this was a necessity for me and I knew it would be essential for our customers, too. Traveling with a suit can be a total nuisance if the fabric isn’t up to the task. So we decided to make a suit from a yarn that’s specially woven to spring back into shape. It works so well you can actually wad your suit up into a ball and stick it in a bag and it will still look great when you take it out.
YOU ARE AN EXPERT PACKER, GIVE US SOME OF YOUR TIPS.
My carry-on bag looks pretty much like my closet in that I’ve got it narrowed down to versatile essentials that work for almost any occasion. I don’t go anywhere without a pair of sneakers, preferably PF Flyers, because they go well with everything from a suit to jeans. Todd Snyder + Champion T-shirts and sweatshirts are the perfect base and extra layers. And I’ll typically wear a sport coat on the plane -– it looks smart for business meetings and is great for working dinners. I’m also a fan of well-designed luggage to pull everything together. Globe-Trotter’s handcrafted products, all made in England from durable vulcanized fiber, are a personal favorite.
YOU TRAVEL TO TOKYO OFTEN FOR WORK, WHERE DO YOU LIKE TO STAY AND WHY?
I love to stay at the Cerulean Tower in Shibuya. It’s modern, earthquake stabilized (I’ve felt the building sway more than a few times) and centrally located to everywhere I need to be: Aoyama, Shibuya, Daikanyama and Shinjuku.
BEST PLACES TO SHOP:
For Global Menswear: Isetan Men’s, Hankyu Men’s and Barneys New York. For the best of Japan, I love Beams, Ships, Tomorrowland and United Arrows. You can’t miss the entire neighborhood of Daikanyama, start at the T-Site at the incredible Tsutaya Books and Café and head out to visit all of the shops in the neighborhood. If you can make it to Kyoto, visit my friend Ron Herman’s store, it’s been an inspiration for me as I open my first store in New York on Madison Square Park.
IF YOU’RE VISITING TOKYO FOR THE FIRST TIME, WHAT ARE 3 THINGS YOU SHOULD SEE, TRY OR BUY BEFORE YOU LEAVE?
Definitely eat! I usually start the trip with a solid night of drinking and eating in a traditional izakaya, soak up the night with a bowl of ramen well past midnight, then recover the next day at a Michelin-starred sushi restaurant. Don’t forget gifts: I always head to Tokyu Hands in Shibuya.
KUSAMA, MURAKAMI OR NARA?
That’s a tough one. I appreciate them all equally, but currently I’m loving Kusama’s ability to create environments where we can actually question the fundamentals of perception.
SAKE OR SODA?
Sake and biru kudasai!
SUSHI, SOBA OR SHABU SHABU?
Cerulean Hotel|26-1 Sakuragaokacho,Tokyo 150-8512|+81 3 3476 3000
Isetan Men’s|3-14-1 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo|+81 3 3352 1111
Hankyu Men’s| 2-5-1 Yurakucho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo|
Beams| 3-32-6 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo| +81 3 5369 2140
Ships | 150-0041 JINNAN1CHO-ME Bldg. B1-4F, 1-18-1 Jinnan, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo| +81 03 3496 0481
Tomorrowland| 1F, B1F 1-23-16, Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo| +81 3 5774 1711
United Arrows| 3-28-1 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo |+81 03 3479 8180
Tsutaya Books & Café| 17-5 Sarugakucho, Shibuya-ku Tokyo| +81 3 3770 2525
Ron Herman| Japan, 107-0052 Tokyo, Minato, 9−7−4 D-B113 Tokyo Midtown| +81 3 6447 0561
Tokyu Hands| Japan, 150-0002 Tokyo, Udagawacho, 1２−1８| +81 3 5489 5111