All photos by Justin Chung
Engineered Garments is a New York City label by Japanese designer Daiki Suzuki, known for its trademark mix of classic American workwear staples like chambray shirts, unstructured sport coats, and military-inspired togs. Suzuki’s received praises from the Council of Fashion Designers of America and was named GQ’s Best New Menswear Designer in America in 2008. The appeal of his pieces derives from taking familiar pieces from a guy’s wardrobe and tweaking them enough to look like the sort of garments you didn’t realize you needed until you discovered they existed.
The same could be said about Ippudo’s ramen. Back in 2008, when many New Yorkers were still making do with instant noodles, Ippudo introduced them to the deep, porky deliciousness of tonkotsu broth and helped pave the way for the city’s current ramen mania. The Japanese import has grown at a steady pace since then, adding locations all over Asia and recently setting up shop in Midtown West.
As the brand grows, Operations Manager Yusuke Nakamura decided NY outposts needed something to truly call their own, so he hit up Suzuki to create the Ippudo x Engineered Garments jacket, made in the EG facilities in New York’s Garment District.
“I wanted it to be something only possible in New York. I wanted it to be the coolest uniform ever,” says Nakamura. The jacket is made from a hardy twill fabric in a versatile navy color. “Daiki came up with the design and we all loved it,” says Nakamura of the silhouette. It’s a worker’s jacket that only gets better with age, as the material breaks in like a hardy pair of denim.
“I am always impressed that our Ippudo NY staff work so hard to make the best Japanese style of ramen. So it should be a workable jacket,” says Nakamura, who met with the Engineered Garments team several times before finalizing the design. It’s unfussy and machine-washable, because as Nakamura puts it, “We are not that kind of guys that take clothes to dry cleaning.”
I wanted it to be something only possible in New York. I wanted it to be the coolest uniform ever.
The thin twill fabric means it can be worn with a simple white t-shirt when it’s hot, or layered underneath a heavy coat for chilly walks to the restaurant. Additional details include an armpit vent for when things get steamy (they often do at a ramen-ya), and a subtle Ippudo NY logo print on one of the back pockets. The Ippudo NY logo print is unique in that it’s inspired by the meaning of Ippudo—“a gust of wind”—but is actually designed around the letters “N” and “Y,” which become hidden in the wind-like geometric shape.
After seeing the jacket, Ippudo’s international Ramen master Fumihiro Kanegae requested an apron that was equally up to snuff. So Nakamura once again approached Suzuki to design a tablier made of the same fabric, with bells and whistles like a detachable front pocket and pants-style pockets on the side.
Though they’re originally designed for kitchen managers, we shot the collaborative clothes on the guys who work behind-the-scenes to make your food so damn good. Soon, the Midtown West location may actually let customers get their hands on the gear, too. The cost for the jacket is $300, and the tablier is $100. Pretty par for the course for Engineered Garments products, but if you’d rather spend your money on food than fashion, we’d understand.