The Man Who Wore Bespoke Suits and Jeans

It’s said on a few places online that Jiro Shirasu was the first person in Japan to wear jeans, but that’s probably not true. Jeans came to Japan by way of American GIs, who imported second hand Lees and Levi’s and sold them to the fashionable youth. It’s more likely that the first person to wear jeans in Japan was some teenager obsessed with American movies.

Jiro Shirasu was probably the first public Japanese figure to be photographed in jeans though. He studied at Cambridge University in the early 1920s, where he picked up a love for many things English, and then returned to Japan in 1928 to work as a journalist. Within a decade, he became an advisor to the Japanese government, and after the war, was appointed by the Foreign Ministry to help the Central Liaison Officer negotiate with the Occupation forces. There’s actually a famous story about how he once delivered a Christmas gift in 1945, from Emperor Hirohito to US General Douglas MacArthur. Upon receiving the gift, MacArthur waved his hand towards some spot on the floor and asked Shirasu to put it down. Offended by the General’s cavalier attitude, Shirasu demanded that a table be brought out so that the Emperor’s gift could be shown some proper respect. He’s often remembered as a man of principle because of that story.

Shirasu wasn’t a simple nationalist, however. As mentioned, he loved many things Western. He drove Bentleys and Porches, and was a client of Henry Poole (a bespoke tailoring house in London, often credited with being the first tailors on Savile Row and having invented the tuxedo). His first purchase at Poole was in March of 1953, when he ordered:

  • A midnight blue double-breasted dinner jacket and trousers
  • A fawn and red check single-breasted jacket
  • A fawn dogtooth single-breasted jacket
  • A chalk stripe, brown worsted flannel, double-breasted suit
  • A chalk stripe, grey worsted flannel, double-breasted suit
  • A chalk stripe, brown flannel, double-breasted suit

The total bill was £203, which he settled in cash. 

He didn’t always wear suits, however. One day, he posed for a portrait wearing Levi’s and a white t-shirt. Those stripes on his cuffs? Given the time period (1950s), probably the finished edges of selvedge denim. 

A month or two ago, I happened upon a beautiful Henry Poole dinner suit. Henry Poole are called “the founders of Savile Row,” one of the finest tailoring houses in the world.

Then, this weekend, I found two more. Same customer, lounge suits this time.

I figure there must be some folks here on PTO who’re interested in owning a $4000 suit, and I don’t feel like putting these on eBay… (Now sold, pending payment.)

It’s On eBay
Henry Poole & Co. Tuxedo
I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw this coat on the rack. Henry Poole? Really? But there were no trousers. That meant an absolutely frantic search through the pants rack… and paydirt. 
Henry Poole & Co. invented the tuxedo in the late 19th century as a more casual dinner suiting for their client the Prince of Wales. After an American saw it and ordered one for himself, which he wore for dinner in the Tuxedo Club in New York, the tuxedo was born. 
This thing is in perfect shape and it’s absolutely beautiful. It’s a couple inches short for my 42L frame, but if you’re a 42R or maybe even a 42S, you could have a piece which cost $3000-4000 for a tenth of that. It’s a piece you can genuinely wear for life.
Starts at $390 on eBay

It’s On eBay

Henry Poole & Co. Tuxedo

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw this coat on the rack. Henry Poole? Really? But there were no trousers. That meant an absolutely frantic search through the pants rack… and paydirt.

Henry Poole & Co. invented the tuxedo in the late 19th century as a more casual dinner suiting for their client the Prince of Wales. After an American saw it and ordered one for himself, which he wore for dinner in the Tuxedo Club in New York, the tuxedo was born.

This thing is in perfect shape and it’s absolutely beautiful. It’s a couple inches short for my 42L frame, but if you’re a 42R or maybe even a 42S, you could have a piece which cost $3000-4000 for a tenth of that. It’s a piece you can genuinely wear for life.

Starts at $390 on eBay

“Whereas, in the 80s, he had hewed faithfully to the fashion conventions of the time, collecting expensive basketball shoes and wearing his hair in a rococo power mullet, in his last decade he pointedly dressed in a suit nearly every day, favoring Brooks Brothers and the custom tailor Henry Poole of Savile Row. “I think it bothered him that people his same age, of similar means, were wearing sweat suits and Twittering,” said James. Though he still kept up with new music—Hughes had been a legendarily voracious record buyer in the old days, admired by rock snobs for the acuity of his soundtrack picks—he now viewed it as his primary duty to be, in his younger son’s words, “the curious, engaged grandpa in the seersucker.”” Vanity Fair’s David Kamp on John Hughes (thanks Rich)