Clutch Cafe is a contemporary concept store that blends heritage Americana and Japanese workwear. The garments tell of the evolution of the Amekaji (American-casual) style, a dominant subculture in Japan that emerged in the late 70s influenced by the American soldiers who occupied Japan. The store itself is the flagship of Clutch Magazine Japan and brainchild of Atsushi Matsushima.

“London,” the store’s manager Ben Chamberlain explains, “is a fantastic place for subculture. There are so many different international scenes that have influenced the style of  Japan, that to open Clutch Cafe in London and for the focus to be on the variety and quality of what Japan has to offer made sense; championing the brands we respect and can offer a new take on an established scene. 

Despite the typically masculine aesthetic of the Amekaji, it is common for women to create their own blended style. As Lucie Abe, an assistant at the store, describes, “I feel more comfortable in men’s clothing, it almost feels genderless at this point.

Clutch Cafe is home to garments from brands such as Warehouse, Yukiten and Japan Blue. Drawing on Japanese artistry and traditional craftsmanship, they make considered pieces that are designed to last. It is perhaps a combination of this measured approach towards Japanese design and the “free spirited” aesthetic of American heritage fashion that forms the Amekaji style.

Abe wears an Indigo Label Kusho Scarf that has been traditionally hand loomed by artisans in Laos and a Warehouse & Co. Lot 462 Sweat Parka made of a lightweight cotton fleece. Put through a washing technique to soften and age the fabric, it has gently faded colour. Both she and Ayumi, Osada, her co-worker, wear jeans from Warehouse & Co.

Osada’s Duck Digger 13.5 oz jeans are made using a blend of Tennessee, Arizona and Texas cotton which recreates the irregularities often found in vintage Levis 501XX jeans.

Her Setto x Indigo Label Arts and Crafts Patchwork Jacket Kofu is made of 100% organic cotton and the patchwork features original indigo-dyed fabrics produced for Setto in Kojima, Okayama. Each jacket is made using different bandana prints and so is unique. Due to the natural indigo-dyeing process, the fabrics will fade and age over time. These are garments whose character is made in their wearing.

Chamberlain describes how the designers whose pieces are to be found in the store “find something they admire and then give the rest of their life to it and try to create it the best way that they possibly can and take joy in passing that on to others.” The store brings with it, the opportunity for Londoners to experience the immaculate quality produced by true artisans, passing on the essence of what makes Japanese designers so unique. ­­

Clutch Cafe is located on 78 Great Portland St, Fitzrovia, London W1W 7NT

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