The Japanese Label That Makes Reproductions of Vintage American Pieces Is Here
“The real McCoy,” the metaphor used to describe “the genuine article” or “the real deal,” is rightly and ironically the namesake of Hitoshi Tsujimoto’s clothing empire, The Real McCoy’s. The Japanese brand specializes in reproductions of vintage American garments, but engineers these pieces to be even better than the real thing.
In 1978, an 18-year-old Tsujimoto embarked on a 40-day road trip across the United States, igniting his obsession with vintage American clothing. He brought home jeans, sweatshirts, jerseys, and other garments, which he then sold at a swap meet in Osaka, Japan. By the mid-’80s, he opened NYLON, a small secondhand clothing shop in Amerikamura, an area inside Osaka that became the Japanese epicenter for American fashion and youth culture.
In the early 2000s, Tsujimoto established The Real McCoy’s out of a desire to recreate the vintage garments that he loved so much. His objective was to make the best reproductions of vintage American garments and, with an attention to detail that can be described as almost fetishistic, nothing was compromised.
Many things make this Japanese brand special. Apart from Tsujimoto’s extensive knowledge of vintage garments and an archive of pieces to look back to and derive inspiration from, there is also its access to highly skilled sewers, clickers, cutters, and finishers—each of whom customize every hardware, thread, button, and more to match and even surpass the originals.
Tsujimoto’s dedication to perfection has even led to extremes such as contracting a horse farm in Poland to acquire a specific quality of horsehide, building a lighting room to test the exact pigments of each product so it matches the original, and creating racks of reverse-engineered garments at his headquarters in Kobe—we’re talking vintage clothing deconstructed stitch-by-stitch to use as a template for patterns.
Clearly, the purity of every detail and the lengths taken to achieve the final pieces come from someone who has invested so much heart into what he loves. And the result is a deep collection, which is split into sub-labels that cover different genres of vintage American style. The ’40s and ’50s are two particularly dominant decades that make up a good deal of The Real McCoy's goods:
The main line focuses on military wear and workwear—think horsehide Type A-2 flight jackets (sometimes emblazoned with hand-painted illustrations of cartoon characters or pin-up girls), 1941 officer chinos, and the M-65 field jackets widely used in the Vietnam War.
The Real McCoy’s bought the rights of Buco, one of the U.S.’ largest manufacturers and distributors of motorcycle accessories in the ’30s, and now the sublabel presents iconic garments like the J-22 leather jackets of the 1950s and more pieces characteristic of motorcycle culture.
The Joe McCoy line, which is named after 19th-century entrepreneur Joseph “Cowboy” McCoy, takes its cues from Western style, as well as the more casual and sportswear-inclined side of vintage Americana.
Its pieces include loop-wheeled cotton sweatshirts, Melton wool varsity jackets, twill chinos, standard white crew-neck tees, buffalo check flannel shirts, and even several workwear pieces like raw denim jackets. The 905 jeans is a straight-cut pair made to fit just like one made in the 1940s.
In the contemporary sense, The Real McCoy’s pieces are classics. They don’t conform to trends, they transcend time, they are marked by durability, and they can be easily be incorporated into anyone’s wardrobe. Most important, they offer a sense of history, as well as soul as seen in the way they are made.
The Real McCoy’s, which has numerous stores and stockists located all over the world, including Manila via Signet, has certainly earned its status as, dare we say, the best Japanese vintage reproduction brand. By offering ultimate reproductions of iconic American garments unlike any other, the brand lives by its tagline, “The Ultimate Seeker.” It is the gold standard.
Signet, Power Plant Mall, Rockwell Center, Makati