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Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Solakzade glasses and jewelry (plus Goro’s) – Everlasting Model

Day by day we have been in Tokyo and walked down Omotesando Hills, there can be a protracted queue on a rail close to the metro station. 

We assumed the queue was for some hype-driven ‘drop’ of streetwear, and to be honest more often than not they have been. However these affected person Japanese have been there for a store based by a now-dead silver craftsman, the primary Japanese to be allowed to take part in an American Indian Sundance ceremony. 

Goro Takahashi died in 2013, however in his lifetime he grew to become a legend for his Indian jewelry and leatherwork. He began in 1956 and arrange the Omotesando store in 1972, and the look he popularised nonetheless persists at present – it’s the identical feather-dominated jewelry you see in lots of workwear shops.

The rationale there’s often a queue outdoors his store is that the jewelry (now made by a workforce run by the household) is barely obtainable there; he by no means needed any stockists. Paradoxically this implies shopping for a bit is much like buying a hype model: it’s essential to queue, be part of a raffle, and may solely purchase one every. 

Goro’s mismatch of demand and provide has created that very same dynamic, regardless that the article of want is okay jewelry somewhat than a cheaply made T-shirt. 

At the moment’s article, nevertheless, will not be about Goro’s (although if you’d like some and may’t get to Japan, one of the best sources are resell websites like Rinkan or Grailed.) 

As a substitute it’s concerning the classic eyewear vendor and jeweller Solakzade, who occupy the 2 flooring under. 

I point out Goro for context, as Solakzade are the one different tenants allowed within the terracotta-painted constructing that Goro acquired within the Nineteen Nineties, when he was underneath strain to maneuver out of the more and more commercialised district. It’s a level of religion to Solakzade that they work underneath Goro’s blessing. 

I first met the founders Ryo and Tatsuya Okamoto 4 years in the past, when Kenji Cheung of Bryceland’s briefly launched me (he’s an enormous buyer). And to be sincere I discovered them fairly intimidating. 

They each are likely to put on massive, daring sun shades, a number of forms of jewelry, and clothes they design themselves – typically religiously impressed. Their father was a buddhist monk, their mom a Christian, and people traditions come via within the store in addition to how they costume.

It seems the brothers are completely beautiful, nevertheless – simply quiet, and intense. This time we had an hour speaking via their ardour for sun shades and hand-made jewelry, and it was frankly inspiring. 

The store may be very private, in a number of methods. Ryo and Tatsuya designed it themselves and even constructed elements of it, together with the big carved doorways on the primary ground. Inside, they’re eager to take plenty of time with every buyer, studying what makes them tick and what piece would go well with their persona. 

“Eyewear and jewelry was rather more private, designed particularly for the person,” says Tatsuya, who does a lot of the speaking and whose English is taken into account, cautious.

The brothers each discuss issues like getting the shopper “to open their coronary heart”, or that the ensuing piece “turns into like an amulet, one thing protecting”. This might sound woolly, even phoney, however if you meet them you are in little question: they’re fully honest and take what they do very significantly. 

It’s additionally arduous to argue with the outcomes. Somebody like Kenji, who quantities to an obsessive collector of eyewear, reveres them, and regardless that they hold a low profile (even perhaps due to that) the likes of Kanye West and Kate Moss are regulars. Bob Dylan was due within the day we visited. 

“We do wish to cater to everybody, each persona and style,” says Tatsuya. Value is clearly a barrier, as frames begin at £300 and run into the hundreds, however additionally they imagine solely sure types go well with sure individuals – college students, artists, professionals. 

“Some individuals put on these huge frames that don’t go well with their persona or their face,” he says. “It takes time to stroll via the design historical past and see what works.”

In my small approach I agree, having tried many types over time and made numerous errors. Folks are likely to assume they’ll put on a a lot wider vary of glasses (even sun shades) than they’ll. See articles on Bonnet analysing my frames or the worth of fine recommendation

The shadowy Solakzade house – stuffed with gold mirrors and seventies chandeliers – is actually a historical past of 200 years of eyewear, starting from Forties Ray-Bans to futuristic Philippe Chevalier types, uncommon Cartier designs to rose-tinted Nineteen Nineties Gaultier frames. 

Tatsuya’s favorite interval is the Nineteen Sixties: “It was the purpose at which the traditional turned to the trendy,” he says. “There was plenty of vitality then, everybody attempting new issues.” Once more the phrase ‘vitality’ comes up loads when discussing each glasses and jewelry, however you already know what he means, certainly if you begin speaking in these phrases you’ll be able to really feel it within the designs – how delicate or dramatic they’re, how conservative or unique. 

The jewelry is extra expressive and private nonetheless. Once more that is one thing I’ve at all times thought of jewelry (which might be why I keep in mind him saying it…). 

Jewelry needs to be particular, even distinctive. It was made for somebody on account of an interplay with a craftsperson, and in that approach is extra akin to a tattoo than a bit of clothes.

Like a tattoo you put on jewelry shut, subsequent to the pores and skin, and males’s jewelry is commonly hidden. It doesn’t make sense to observe a style or have the identical as everybody else. 

“There may be a lot symbolism in jewelry,” says Tatsuya. “Some individuals used to put on a centipede, for instance, as a result of it’s an animal that can’t transfer backwards – it’s about by no means with the ability to retreat or hand over.”

The jewelry a part of Solakzade is a bit more latest, based 5 years after the eyewear. It’s additionally rather less accessible, though the brothers have lately began making their very own: “We needed to practise the craft, not essentially to promote however to grasp them from the within,” says Tatsuya. 

One result’s the gold earrings under, which each the brothers have been carrying. Every is hammered by hand into totally different however related permutations, in 24 carat gold.  

Like Goro’s, Solakzade’s classic eyewear will not be one thing that may be simply accessed, as it’s essential to go to the store. The one straightforward approach to purchase into it’s via the items they make for Bryceland’s – the Winston and Politician types. (Winston under on me.)

Nonetheless, I do know plenty of readers have been asking about suggestions for locations to go to in Tokyo and this will surely be one in all mine. Some retailers needs to be locations, identical to Bryceland’s was earlier than London, earlier than e-commerce. 

Not less than there’s no queue or raffle system for Solakzade, but. 

Solakzade: 4 Chome-29-4 Jingumae, Shibuya Metropolis, Tokyo. Opening hours are 2pm-7pm. 



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