Sailing the Seven Seas with Japanese Outerwear Brand nanamica
Words: Chris Danforth
If you aren’t already familiar with the name Eiichiro Homma, you’re certainly familiar with his designs.
Not only is Homma the man behind beloved Japanese outdoor label nanamica, but he also runs Japan’s Purple Label division of The North Face. After working for distributor-turned-brand Goldwin, and then for the Japanese offices of Norwegian legacy brand Helly Hansen, Homma established nanamica in 2003.
Rooted in classic Americana aesthetics (A look known as “Ametora,” which is emulated by other HHV brands like Anonymous Ism and Champion Reverse Weave), nanamica specializes in fashionable, everyday utility, which Homma has described as Westen clothing designed with Japanese sensibilities.
nanamica roughly translates to “house of seven seas,” and many of the brand’s main references are unabashedly nautical, including the catchphrase “one ocean, all lands.” In addition, the brand’s color palette is saturated with blue-hued sailing garments like windbreakers and sailing sweaters, yet another example of Homma’s appreciation of the deep blue sea. With some of nanamica’s designs, like its striped long sleeve shirts or knitted watch caps, it’s simply impossible not to imagine yourself adjusting the topsail on the deck of a schooner. Other pieces weave in seafaring allusions in a more subtle way. Homma is even the owner of a sailing boat named, you guessed it, nanamica.
The brand can perhaps be best understood through its flagship silhouette, the nanamica GORE-TEX Soutien Collar Coat. A staple in each and every seasonal collection, this garment is a waterproof and breathable take on the classic Scottish Mackintosh jacket that evokes a ship’s captain stoically scanning the seas as his ship disembarks from its port. Silhouettes like bucket hats, waist bags, and cargo shorts are also thetical to each and every nanamica collection.
In the early days of the brand, Homma quickly gravitated towards GORE-TEX as a way to add performance credibility to his early nanamica designs. Homma’s use of the waterproof membrane is one of the defining aspects of nanamica, while his designs also show an inclination toward ultra-functional KODENSHI down insulation, tough and versatile Cordura, and of course a fabric that is synonymous with Japanese casual garb, Loopwheel cotton. As the brand grew and evolved, Homma even produced his own innovative textile ALPHADRY, a wrinkle-resistant, and quick-drying polyester. In fact, it is this keen eye for fabrics, technical or otherwise, that constitutes one of the brand’s biggest points of appeal.
But while nanamica’s brand ethos is firmly staked on casual-outdoor gear, merged with the label’s overarching nautical inspiration, nanamica is no stranger to footwear collaborations either. Sneakerheads may be able to recall nanamica’s Reebok partnership, which produced a hybridized version of the popular Club C, or perhaps nanamica’s ongoing collaboration with English mainstay Dr. Martens which has stretched across several seasons.
Complimenting nanamica’s oceanic aesthetic, Homma’s efforts with The North Face Purple Label look toward the land, more specifically, the mountains, and understanding one brand helps to better ken the other. Purple Label borrows from The North Face’s 1980s catalogs but is ultimately a fashion-centric expression of the famous Colorado-based brand.
Up until recently, Purple Label was limited to the Japanese market, but can now be found in limited quantities in The North Face’s concept shops in London and Brooklyn. But the two brands are intended to co-exist in some regard, and if you find yourself in Japan, you need only stop by one of nanamica’s flagship stores to find the brand harmoniously sharing the rack with a selection of Purple Label goods.
This season’ nanamica’s offerings include a range of items that speak to the brand’s core strengths. Hard-wearing yet stylish outerwear and accessories run the gamut, including the aforementioned Soutien Collar Coat, plus favorites like cargo pants, denim, and casual sweats.
Shop nanamica’s SS22 collection at HHV.