Interview With Mr. Hidetoshi Sasamoto of Ring Jacket
Ring Jacket offers a beautifully made Japanese garment with a distinctly Italian flavour, using unique fabrics that are exclusively made in collaboration with the finest mills in the world.
Though Ring Jacket is new to most of the world, the brand has a rich history that dates back more than 60 years. During the mid-1950s, the company was born out of a passion for clothing and a commitment to quality. The goal was clear: to produce ready-to-wear clothing that was of the same caliber as custom-made garments.
In this interview, brand's wholesale representative Mr. Hidetoshi Sasamoto, explains the history of Ring Jacket, the difference between models available at Lund & Lund, the unique respect the Japanese, in particular, have for Italian fabrics and how the company aims to stay relevant in ever-changing landscape of high-end clothing for men.
Dear Sasamoto-san, tell us about the Ring Jacket brand?
In 1954, we opened our business with the idea to create ready-to-wear clothing that feels like custom-made. This philosophy strongly reflects our founder's obsession with clothing. Ready-made clothing at that time, especially high-end men's clothing, was always custom-made by tailors. Even our founder Mr. Joichi Fukushima himself, loved fine clothes and had only ever worn custom-made clothing. However, we had a strong desire to make ready-to-wear clothes that felt like they had been ordered by a tailor.
In 1957, three years after the company was founded, we opened our directly managed factory in Kaizuka, Osaka. This was to be the base for the company’s clothing production. The Kaizuka factory has gone through two expansions until now. In the mid-1960s, the term "men's fashion" came into use, and ready-made clothing became mainstream in Japan. We think our philosophy came to light then for the first time.
Your inspiration comes from Italy but you develop your own fabrics and models, in which way does Ring Jacket combine Japanese craftmanship and Italian fabrics?
From the late 1960s to the 1970s, although it was on a small scale, we came to be known as a maker with a unique point of view. But we were not satisfied with that. We begun to take inspiration from Italian apparel makers, rather than British or American makers, to further explore the comfort, beauty, and perfection of ready-to-wear garments as well as the Italian fabrics, that we are very fond of. With the fusion of machine and hand, high quality materials made in Italy by esteemed mills such as Carlo Barbera, and the latest technology, we take pride in creating the best suits and jackets that global customers can think of.
Our Scandinavian customers are used to Models "TAJ-02" and "TAJ-03". Now we have added Model "254FH Meister" – how are they different?
We have two different grades in our production. One is “Regular” grade, the other is “Meister “grade. When you try them on, you can immediately feel that Meister products are slightly more comfortable and you can also see they include more hand-made details. For example, the Camicia shoulder and the special lining on the inside of the sleeves. In addition, all the buttonholes are made by hand. The canvas is made of a higher quality as well.
To clarify, “TAJ02”and “TAJ03” are Regular grade and of very high quality and finish, while “254FH” and “253EH” are Meister grade and are our top of the line products.
Model “254FH Meister” is a sport coat, with 3 Roll 2 button stance and patch pockets.
Model “253EH Meister ” is a suit jacket, with 3 Roll 2 button stance and jetted pockets.
Above: Model “254FH" Meister grade vs Model "TAJ-02" Regular grade
Tell us about your house style and its details such as shoulders, waist, lengths etc for the European market?
All our models are made in our house style cut which is flattering to most of the customer body types across the globe. We have been developing them for many years, making improvements over time, broadening the shoulders and adding forward facing shoulder frame, nipping the waist, lengthening the jacket and so on – all in order to make them fit better and better while staying relevant to a contemporary customer.
Ring Jacket is very well-known for both its special fabrics in suits and blazers as well as its jersey shirts and cotton trousers. Which products are you looking into now, and what can we expect from Ring Jacket in near future?
Our main goal right now is to expand our “Meister” models across the world. As always, Ring Jacket has produced beautiful garments which our customers feel are comfortable offering a unique and flattering shape to the body.
Now, we would like to make sure that all of our retailers sell almost 100% “Meister” models, as most of our customers understand the difference and want to purchase them. In our humble opinion, there is nothing better than a sport coat or a suit jacket that is incredibly comfortable to wear and has a beautiful drape and cut.
You recently added “Italian Balloon” fabric to your Balloon line, what can “Italian Balloon” offer to our customers?
“Italian Balloon” is offering even more beautiful color and soft touch in the jacket fabrics because it is made of extra fine materials like cashmere or silk and so on. The reason is simply because we want our customers to wear more beautiful garments and we constantly look for new ways to achieve that.
What is your strategy for the upcoming seasons, how can Ring Jacket keep the sartorial tradition alive and stay relevant for the new generations to come?
Our main strategy is to expand “Meister” products all over the world. We are inspired by the lightness of Italian tailoring combined with an uncompromising knowledge of using key components of high quality production, which Japanese craftsmanship and attention to detail can offer.
Ring Jacket garments are always fully canvased, with hand stitched elements and top fabrics. The result is a perfect garment, which will keep you looking great at all times, in any occasion. Hence, we would like our customers to understand and enjoy the unique Ring Jacket flair while wearing it.
Finally, name someone who has a genuine sense of style that you admire.
That would certainly be Mr. Kunichi Fukushima – the owner and the president of Ring Jacket.
Follow Sasamoto-san @maidoookini