Even in the era of unlimited content, you can run out of interesting things to read pretty quickly, especially when it comes to men’s clothing. Listen to Blamo; browse your Instagram feed; check Reddit and StyleForum, Hypebeast and Complex; see what Permanent Style, Die Workwear, and Put This On posted today and … I dunno, read Dressing the Man again?
A resource that’s a little harder to access, at least for those in the US and Europe, is men’s fashion magazines from Japan. Month by month, these publications churn out reams of meticulously photographed, wonderfully styled features. For those whose thirst for flat lay photos of chambray shirts, they’re addictive. American and British print magazines (e.g., GQ and Monocle) are great, too. But they generally treat clothes as the light fare to enjoy while you’re thinking about more serious topics and reading celebrity profiles. There’s something about magazines such as Free & Easy (RIP) and Popeye — their covers feature fleece jackets rather than actors’ faces. They focus on the clothes themselves.
Or at least it seems that way, to those of us who can’t read them. I admit part of the appeal has always been that I, too, can focus on the clothes in these mags. I don’t speak or read Japanese, so the captions and articles could be keen and insightful, or tepid and pointless. I don’t know. I still page through them, brow furrowed, wondering if I can pull off corduroy overalls.
Getting ahold of such magazines has, traditionally, been a pain. You have to get them in print and often pay more than the cover price. I have a shelf full of them at home, purchased from Context, Kinokuyina, and eBay. You can order subscriptions from international services, but they’re quite pricy. To read them on-screen, I used to pore over scans pulled from obscure blogs and Superfuture. But I recently figured out that many of these magazines do indeed put their print layouts online. And you can read them for like $5-$10 a pop. It just takes a little work.
The secret is the Amazon Japan Kindle store. A quick search will turn up many of our favorite men’s magazines: Popeye, 2nd, Go Out, Leon, Men’s Ex, Men’s Club. Most have Kindle edition prices under ¥1000.
- First of all, if you can’t read Japanese, change your language settings to English. Not everything will be translated, but it’s easier to navigate.
- Next, create an amazon.co.jp account. You can use your regular email address. I had a hard time creating a valid password with English alphabet characters and keyboard symbols, but using one that’s just numerals seems to work.
- Once you’ve established your account, enter payment information just like you would for any other site.
- At this point, you still won’t be able to order these magazines in Kindle format. Amazon Japan wants you to have an address in Japan to order them, even for online reading. It doesn’t make you prove you have one, though. Just saying.
- If you go to your account, under Digital Content and Devices, click on Content and Devices.
- There’s a tab for Preferences. Under which: Country/Region settings. Click on that, then enter your address in Japan. Yep.
- Once you’ve done that, you can go back to the magazine pages, and order away! Amazon will give you the option of reading on the Kindle Cloud Reader, which you can do right in your browser — probably the best option even if you have a Kindle, as it’ll be set up for a country other than Japan.
Now you can browse all your favorite zines — the spreads, the street style, the pages and pages of text you cannot understand. But maybe you can answer important questions like “Who wants to be anything else but the leather man?”