Yukio Akamine has an outfit for every season. The 79-year-old vintage designer and fashion consultant from Japan, bases his clothing choices almost exclusively on the view from his home window. This means, typically, classic silhouettes, such as his signature brown trench coat, monochromatic pants, and custom John Lobbs, all occasionally paired with a cigarette. “You don’t have to read fashion magazines,” Akamine once said. “Open the window and look outside when you wake up.”
On average, he rises at around 4 and 5 a.m. each day. It’s a ritual Eisuke Yamashita documented while photographing and interviewing the designer over 50 times for the 2023 book Akamine Yukio No Kurashikku (“Yukio Akamine Classic Life”). Akamine then embarks on his daily one-to-two-hour-long strolls around his neighborhood in the Kanagawa prefecture just outside of Tokyo, immersing himself in the landscape. He takes in the ever-shifting shades of raked foliage and the expanse of sky above it, and later channels it when he gets dressed for the day ahead. “In order to understand the beauty of clothing, you must first recognize the beauty of life,” Yamashita recounted to Put This On.
Akamine has a long history in Japan’s fashion industry: he started off as a consultant for major clothing companies such as United Arrows and Onward Holdings before he founded his own made-to-measure tailoring Akamine Royal Line. Throughout this time, he’s developed a style that consists of mindful layering, vintage staples, and cinematic accents; one that is born not from the latest trends but from something much more tangible: his natural surroundings. Many of these styles draw from the ancient Japanese lunisolar calendar, which divides the year into 24 distinct seasons instead of four. Responding to the subtle changes of the season, Akamine crafts a unique and enduring style that speaks to older and younger generations alike. “With beautiful things, it is all about learning to wait, being patient. People today, they don’t want to give it time. But it is like love, it is like a relationship, it is like learning, like all the things we admire, it takes time,” Akamine said. “Anything that happens in the snap of a finger isn’t good.”
In spite of his contemporary virality, Akamine’s sense of style is rooted in a sort of timeless sophistication that has been meticulously refined throughout his life, from his European travels and adoration of cinema from the 1940s and 50s to his enrollment at Tokyo’s Kuwasawa Design School. In a recent interview with Derek Guy of Die, Workwear!, Akamine shared his adoration for Milanese and Florentine tailoring, the influence of classic Hollywood men like Cary Grant and Gregory Peck, as well as Japan’s ancient Edo philosophy of color aesthetics. Above all, Akamine emphasized the importance of congruency in the cultivation of style. “It is not only about clothing but also about embodying elegance in your daily habits,” Akamine told Guy. “It makes no difference how well you dress if you can’t live with elegance.”