Every season, there are one or two things I regret having missed out on. Last season, it was this Melton wool “traveler coat” from Kaptain Sunshine. It’s a long, raglan-sleeved overcoat made with lots of cool details – including a flapped patched, ticket pocket set just above the hips; equestrian-inspired leg straps hidden in the interior; and a perfectly cut, turned-down collar. Most of all, I love the silhouette. Comfortable fitting and slightly oversized, it’s a refreshing take on men’s outerwear in this slim-fit age. You can see my friend Kyle wearing it here with a chunky, cabled turtleneck and light washed jeans.
If you’ve never heard of Kaptain Sunshine, don’t worry – they’re a relatively new label, having started in just 2013. Their designer, Shinsuke Kojima was one of the founding editors of Huge, a popular Japanese magazine that sadly folded just two years ago. Having left the editorial business, Shinsuke now designs his own menswear line, Kaptain Sunshine, as well as Woolrich’s Japanese capsule collections.
Like many of other Japanese brands, Kaptain Sunshine takes inspiration from vintage Americana, militaria, and outdoor wear. A lot of this comes from Shinsuke’s love for vintage clothing, which he’s collected since the age of 15. As a teen, he used to rummage through Tokyo’s dustier thrift stores for vintage Levis, old varsity sweaters, and beat-up military parkas. These days, you can still probably find him on the weekends at Suntrap, one of Tokyo’s premier vintage outfitters, which Shinsuke cites as his favorite shop.
You can see a lot of this influence in Shinsuke’s designs. Previous collections, for example, have included his take on Abercrombie & Fitch’s iconic patchwork safari jacket, made famous by Hunter S. Thompson. There’s also plenty of military and outdoor inspired gear in his fall/ winter lines, but then classic, nautical designs for spring/ summer. I love the waxed cotton, corduroy collar hunting coats you see below, well as the cheerful, yellow sea smocks with bold, flapped chest pockets. In the photo above, you can see a slightly more stylish take on things that look like they could be pulled straight out of a vintage LL Bean catalog.
The thing that sets Kaptain Sunshine apart from other companies, however, is the silhouettes. Shinsuke isn’t afraid to experiment – fuller-cut trousers with billowy thighs that sharply taper below the knees, or rounded coats that contrast against slim, slightly cropped denim. Some of this is about how Shinsuke prefers clothes that are comfortable, and will often adjust his patterns by half sizes depending on his mood. He’s also very much inspired by original and historical silhouettes, which start as the basis for many of his collections.
For being a niche Japanese label, Kaptain Sunshine is surprisingly easy to wear. This isn’t the sort of apocalyptic, hobo stuff you might find from Kapital, or even the patchwork sashiko designs you’d get from Blue Blue Japan. This is something like a more interesting version of vintage Americana – historical designs, but reimagined. The clothes can be integrated into almost any wardrobe, from J. Crew to Engineered Garments, simply because they’re unique without being too conspicuous. All the visual interest here is in the silhouettes and subtle details, while the fabrics and classic designs keep things familiar.
At the moment, you can find Kaptain Sunshine at End and No Man Walks Alone (the second of which is an advertiser on this site). The spring/ summer collections don’t look like they’ve dropped yet, but I assume they’ll come in the next few weeks.