The story of Engineered Garments begins with it’s founder, Daiki Suzuki, reading early issues of the Americana-inspired Japanese fashion publications “Made In U.S.A. Catalog” & “POPEYE” in which westernized popular culture was heavily featured. The outdoor fashion section initially caught Suzuki’s eye, leading him to join a local hiking club as a way to showcase his mountaineering gear, although he was disappointed to find out that wearing his own clothes was prohibited.
Suzuki worked at a cycling store, one of his other passions, but soon saw his wages going towards less cycling gear and more clothing. The preppy, college aesthetic captivated Suzuki, and sparked his interest in American labels such as J. Press. He began to surround himself with like minded people, and was soon extending his interests to exclusive items only available from Tokyo through postal ordering such as the iconic Izod Lacoste. Seeing pieces created by such Japanese designers as Junya Watanabe pushed Suzuki to follow his passion, and in 1980 he began studying fashion at Saitama university. Unfortunately, the university didn’t live up to the experiences that Suzuki’s friends were having at Tokyo based institutions, and after a year and a half of trying to make Saitama work, he made the decision to fund his own education and head to Tokyo.
After grinding through 12 hour shifts with a printing company, he saved in order to study at Vantan Design Institute. Post graduation, Suzuki applied for a job at Beams as he knew someone that was already on the team, this however didn’t seal the deal and his application was rejected. Disheartened but not beaten, Suzuki found employment with a clothing and shoe importer, Union Square, responsible for surf inspired women’s clothing and Namsb, a menswear store selling the likes of Italian sports and casual wear giants, CP Company. It was here that he met Keizo Shimizu, a former employee of Americana influenced Japanese brand Van who convinced Suzuki to work at Redwood, a shop opened in 1982 with heavy influence from the clothing found in “Made In U.S.A. Catalog” which was a perfect fit.
Suzuki loved working at Redwood, finding himself more involved with the day-to-day operation of the store through his passion for the American-made clothes, which he was learning more about every day. Thinking practically, he soon realised that he had a lot to learn about the clothing, and decided to focus on opening his own store before chasing his design dreams further. Keizo Shimizu left Redwood to start the iconic Nepenthes store, leaving his previous position open for Suzuki, although after learning about Shimizu’s exciting trips to the U.S.A to source stock, Suzuki upped sticks for New York, San Francisco & Los Angeles on a three week trip.
Suzuki began fashion writing on his return, and eventually joined Nepenthes using the clothing knowledge he had built to buy stock for the store. Suzuki ended up spending half of his time between Tokyo and Boston for the following year and a half, sourcing and shipping products back to Nepenthes from military surplus shops, meeting and developing relationships with American manufacturers.
His success led to relocating to New York, and moving from purchasing vintage clothing to looking out for up and coming outdoor brands based purely on their natural pull rather than selling clothing based on the label. This changed the game for Japanese based stores and the way they bought stock, leading Nepenthes to pave the way for other retailers. Meanwhile Shimizu turned his focus to creating his own clothing, and after a legal dispute concerning his Hoggs brand, he turned his focus to the Nepenthes label and developing the iconic Needles.
Fast forward to 1998, where the growth in popularity of Nepenthes led to the opening of a New York store, stocking Suzuki’s original designs under the name Engineered Garments (a 19th century button down shirt) for the very first time. Suzuki then connected with New York based manufacturers, and solidified Engineered Garments as an independent brand in 2002. Engineered Garments’ success wasn’t instant by any means, but after a buyer for Bloomingdales had been convinced to view the collection by designer John Bartlett, an order was placed sparking an interest from outdoor clothing O.G.’s Woolrich. Suzuki landed the position of creative director during a collaboration between Woolrich & WP Lavori, seeing Suzuki win an award in 2008 through GQ for “Best New Menswear Designer In America Award” which allowed him to release a collection with Levi’s and gave Suzuki and Shimizu the confidence to open a Nepenthes store in the garment district of New york.
Through high quality materials, a highly skilled team of sewers and pattern makers and using specific equipment and industrial sewing machines, Engineered Garments brought together Suzuki’s influences of outdoor, military and Ivy League American aesthetics reimagined in a contemporary context and continues to stay true to Suzuki’s original vision.
For Autumn/Winter ‘21, the Engineered Garments’ collection features traditional utilitarian style drawing on technical details, including two variations of durable hooded cagoule shirts, a loose fitting all black Aviator jacket, heavy denim Explorer & Shawl workwear influenced jackets and a convenient and classy shoulder bag.
This season also sees packable raincoat originators and French outerwear kings, K-Way, collaborating with Engineered Garments to produce super technical jackets and accessories. Three of our hot picks of this collection include a classic bomber jacket, unique “Animal Print” camo Fieldie jacket with more pockets than you’ll ever need and a warm, longer line parka style jacket to brave the Winter. View the limited collection today.