We're fond of the ethos and the quality of the products at Kamakura Shirts. We recently had the opportunity to ask Yoshio Sadasue, the founder and CEO of Kamakura Shirts a few questions. In an exclusive interview with Lyf Consul, Sadasue comments on how he first got started in the industry, future plans for Kamakura Shirts, and the brands that he admires.
Lyf Consul: How did you first get started in the men's clothing business, and what led you to start Kamakura in 1993?
Yoshio Sadasue: I started in the business, when I was 25 years old.Mr. Kensuke Ishizu suggested me to restart Ivy fashion business, when I was 53 years old after 5 companies I worked for were bankrupt.
LC: What first led you to open a store in America (which is the first non-Japanese store)?
YS: New York store is the first step to go into world wide business. MADISON is famous for MADMEN and the most tough market for mens wear in the world, like a mountain Everest. If I could conquer Everest, others are easy.
LC: Are there any plans to open more American or international stores?
YS: The next step is to start larger global website, then we will go into international stores.
LC: How are American shoppers similar or different from your customers in Japan?
YS: American shoppers are quite different from Japanese. In America, people are accepting; they are fair and open-minded towards high quality products.
LC: What have you learned from opening a store in America?
YS: They have keen sense of fashion and are rigid about their sizing. They have a particular size they wish to stick to, more so than we expected. They have been so kind and teaching us about American taste.
LC: How do you see Kamakura growing over the next three to five years?
YS: Within 5 years, we will sell at least 4 million shirts in the world market.
LC: If someone asked you what makes Kamakura shirts unique what would you tell them?
YS: We created the new business model of fashion retail: high consumption rate and high turn rate with low profit make the shirts affordable and fair price for our customers.
LC: What brands and companies first inspired you? What brands or companies do you find inspiring or admire today?
YS: Brooks Brothers button-down shirts. Italian hand made shirts: FLAY, LUIGI BORRELLI