About the Brand:
Founders: Alec & Lacey Nakashima
"AKASHI-KAMA is my way to aesthetically tell my story as an Asian-American... Equal parts minimalism and flair." -Alec Nakashima
Alec Nakashima wants to show others what it is like to be an Asian-American today. While some might put pen to paper, Alec, along with his wife Lacey, started AKASHI-KAMA to help tell the Asian American story through rich and colorful clothing models (the translation of the branding is "testimonials" after all). Combining the two cultures into one garment has been difficult. However, Alec and his team can firmly stand behind one of the company's tag lines: "modern products designed and influenced by the Japanese-American experience," with extreme confidence. For many consumers, AKASHI-KAMA will appear equal parts clothing and heritage art.
The Noragi Jacket Specs:
Made with 100% Japanese Cotton
Contrasting Inner Yolk Lining Pattern
Japanese Style High Kama Collar
Uses a Sashiko pattern
The Noragi Jacket is rooted in Japanese history as a garment that was mostly worn by the lower class. Its overall design helped it to be a long lasting garment due to being made with the Sashiko hand-sewing technique. Nowadays, like many of its workwear brethren of years past, the Noragi Jacket has transitioned to being a fashion piece in today's society.
This particular Noragi Jacket, created by AKASHI-KAMA, is made out of 100% red Japanese cotton with the infamous Seigaiha wave pattern, a symbol that represents the 'flow of life'. Size wise, I ordered a medium which fits me nicely; not to tight but not baggy either (although it can certainly be styled that way if sized up). Although labeled as a "jacket", it is quite thin and perfect for spring and cooler summer days. It is also a great layer piece for the fall that I will wear under a denim jacket for some added color among my sea of indigo clothing!
The Noragi Jacket can be an everyday wear if you so choose. I have been throwing it on each morning as the weather here in the Midwest has been in the 50's and 60's. It is not as heavy as the lightest sweatshirt out there and can be easily taken on and off. The jacket is also comfortable enough to be worn inside on a lazy day and can be a fashion statement when you go out for casual occasions.
Wearing this piece in public is a great conversation starter. If AKASHI-KAMA wants to tell the Asian-American story, they certainly succeeded. In the short time I have worn this garment, I have had conversations with several people regarding it; including what the symbols stand for, where I bought it, and what my own personal knowledge of Japan is. I started thinking about how clothing used to be more expressive and fashion seen more as an art form instead of the money hungry industry it has become today. I think AKASHI-KAMA is one of those new brands that see those two factors as a reason for starting their company and will help push society back to that mindset.
My one critique is more personal preference: I just wish their were side pockets. I have this same problem with my Naked & Famous Denim Jacket and find myself trying to put my hands in pockets that don't exist! However, pockets might add some additional girth and if you fill them up with all your everyday carry items the pocket cloth might sag below the bottom (which would be unsightly). Additionally, after researching other models, the majority of the Noragi Jackets out there do not have them so.
The Carmine Wave Noragi Jacket by AKASHI-KAMA is becoming one of my favorite tops to wear. It is made well, looks great, and is just fun to wear. I find myself leaving the jacket open most of the time instead of tying the two sides together with the front tie closure (complete with gold aglets). However, I can see people wanting to wear it closed and it would look just as good. That's what I love about the jacket, it can be styled so many ways. Putting together different outfits with this garment in mind can be quite enjoyable. If you are curious about getting a Noragi Jacket, this model and the other AKASHI-KAMA designs, will be a sure answer to your intrigue!
Founders: Miles Chinn, Nick O'Donnell, Hill Law
Based In: London, Hong Kong, & Shanghai
Getting to Know Akka Denim's Missions with Co-Founder Miles Chinn:
"Our philanthropic call to arms was in 2013 with the Rana Plaza factory disaster in Bangladesh. Being advanced manufacturers, this atrocity was too much for us to process professionally moreover personally." -Miles Chinn
The Rana Plaza Disaster in Dhaka, Bangladesh took the lives of 1,132 people while injuring more than 2,500. These people were taken too soon because the factory building, which did not meet safety regulations due to a poor foundation and illegal construction, collapsed. This atrocity is not an outlier either in the garment industry, as there have been more incidents reported in Bangladesh alone since 2013.
"Akka was created that very same week (of the Rana Factory Incident) with our vision is to support children's charities. These charities have been created to support people and local communities whose lives have been significantly affected as a consequence of today's global thirst for fast fashion."
The knowledge and teamwork of Akka Denim has really helped push their mission forward. The founders of the brand have been together since 1994 and have done everything in the fashion world: from distribution of luxury brands to founding big name streetwear companies (Evisu anyone?!).
Currently, the Akka Denim Team has launched their 2020 #OurchivFutur collaboration series by giving away the last of their fourth generation upcycled, selvedge denim to artists. They don't just leave the creativity up to others though, in 2016, Akka entered into the 2015-2017 Denim World Championships with the first ever, handwoven denim jeans! The jeans, which weighed in at 32 oz. (plus they did an unreleased 48 oz.), were truly one-of-a-kind! Watch the video below to understand how they made the (beautiful) monster!
"Akka is a next generation brand solely about helping others in the face of adversity, not just those living in poverty but equally supporting creativity and the arts. We are very proud of our ethos which is reflected in our strong denimhead community around the world."
The future is exciting for denimheads if companies like Akka Denim keep popping up to not only innovate, but to make the world a better place. The drive behind Akka is truly incredible and may they continue to have success and grow! Check out some of their current releases below:
*Photos from Akka Denim