Style & Fashion Drawings: Kobe Elegance

February 11, 2016

There’s an old saying in Japan that translates to: “if you can’t go to Japan, go to Kobe.” In the late 1800s, Kobe was one of the first Japanese ports to open to European traders, which means it was one of the first cities to start accepting Western goods and culture (which eventually also meant the adoption of Western clothes). Today, the city is one of the more fashionable parts of the country. We even have our own fashion week

Style wise, much of Kobe leans towards the subtle and elegant. People tend to dress in muted colors and natural materials, although high-end brands (both European and Japanese) are often flaunted. It often feels like everyone – from students to businessmen to the elderly – makes a bit more effort when getting dressed. For my part of the Style & Fashion Drawing series, I’ll be reporting from Kobe once every two weeks and talk about some of the recent looks I loved. 


Businessmen in Kobe nowadays tend to wear conservative suits, but accent things with a bright color – whether that’s through a scarf, hat, or pair of gloves. I recently spotted this man wearing a charcoal suit with blue, down jacket. Quilted jackets with diamond-patterned stitches are more popular here than the ones with “Michelin Man” rings. I noticed this guy in particular because he was holding a shiny, new, turquoise Felisi bag and seemed very self-conscious about it. 


This older gentlemen was wearing a classic, grey topcoat and a red tie, but had paired the two with a hoodie. It was the sort of thing you’d expect on a younger guy, but it suited him. Despite the layers, he looked cold. 


I often see this guy at my local train station, smoking one last cigarette before the train arrives. I haven’t spoken to him yet, but he’s always dressed in this sort of vintage, 1930s look, so I like to imagine he works at a vintage shop. Last week, I spotted him in this classic, brown tweed suit, almost-matching flat cap, and a blue scarf. I like how he’s always wearing variations of a distinct style that he’s worked out and knows looks good on him. – Graeme