I’m fascinated by Japanese brand Beams. If you’re anything like me, the brand Beams Plus will be familiar from browsing over at Oi Polloi, End and the obligatory Mr Porter. Like me, you may have bought some. But what do you actually know about it?
In the UK it’s frequently in the mix alongside small middle-to-luxury end menswear brands – stuff like Master-Piece, Armor-Lux, Engineered Garments. I’d got it in my head that it was a small, hands-on business akin to Inverallan or Yuketen. But in Japan at least, the Beams brand is huge. They’ve got over 70 stores. Kind of like an eastern J Crew.
The availability in the UK of only a tiny slice of the total Beams offering renders it exclusive and highly desirable. Yet in Tokyo, it’s simple to come by. For those intrigued by Beams in the UK, this feeling of not being let in the VIP room is only enhanced when you discover the breadth of wares Beams actually offers.
Contrary to Mr Porter’s write up, Beams Plus is not ‘the men’s line’. Rather an expanded range of original, imported and exported products. The original brand Beams caters for both men and women. Add to this Beams F, a line of tailoring and smarter business wear and Beams Lights, a stand-alone collection of travel wear and we over here start to feel rather under-served.
My fascination with Beams and its offspring continues from afar. Although I am reminded of a time when I lived in San Francisco a few years back. Everyone over there wanted Folk clothing, or Albam, or even Marks and Spencer – none of which they could get. When back in London, my friends pestered me about exclusive Supreme merch and limited run Nikes available only in the US.
The grass is always greener. You’ll always want what you can’t have. It really is ridiculously, comically true in fashion. For me Beams represents a perfect example of the allure of something that comes from a place you’re not.