Followers of culture are often cursed with a nagging mind. I’ve spent the last few days absorbing stuff, then trying to figure out what I think, what I think I should think, and what I think I think while not entirely sure if I think it.
I didn’t like the new Bond, but I think everyone else does, should I change what I think?
Why, when I think human intelligence is our most valuable gift, do I want to wear a cap featuring the words ‘Brain Dead’?
When someone uses the phrase ‘living your best life’, why do I think they should be hosed with old man piss?
Last week I voluntarily attended the Brixton O2 to have my head sledgehammered by a back-to-back DJ set from Four Tet, Jex Opolis and Floating Points. Many attendees pleaded with the bar staff for ear buds. I didn’t. I just shuffled from foot to foot, in some pain, trying to look cool. 2am curfew on a Wednesday night with an 8.30am Zoom in the calendar — what was I thinking?
I get bogged down with thinking. And not serious, academic, beneficial thinking. Just the utterly trivial, the kind of mental knotweed that frequently plagues the style obsessed. Are flares genuinely an option now? Why do dinner party invites fill me with dread? Is everyone just pretending to get modern art? Isn’t Dishoom just Pizza Express for curry?
It’s refreshing then to find something that invites no interrogation. Enter Japanese retailer NCNR.
There’s something about the way these guys do things that’s genuinely relaxing. A monochromatic abyss; simple black on white type; no extraneous whiz-bang-pop. Just beautifully wearable clothes against a dove grey background. My mind empties, there’s drool on my chin.
Only a couple of months back NCNR’s digital footprint was just an (equally well cultivated) IG page. However, with the web store now open, those of us who don’t reside in Japan’s Ishikawa prefecture can not just gawp, but buy. And there’s a refined, superbly edited selection to choose from.
Most notably you’ll find a number of hard-to-find labels absent from UK retailers: Graphpaper, FreshService, DAIWA PIER39 and the always elusive Yaeca. There are brands that may be completely new to you (check out the gurkha trousers from The CLASIK and the minimal stylings of Aton) alongside robust showings from familiar heavy-hitters Comme Homme, Wacko Maria, Junya and White Mountaineering.
I find NCNR’s stripped-back approach aesthetically similar to sites like Norse Store. Both deliver a sense that each piece was selected deliberately, quite specifically for their audience. No extraneous puffery, just laser-guided style for the discerning shopper.
I’ve got my eye on a wonderful two-button denim blazer from Graphpaper — superb boxy shape, the kind of thing you’d wear for years. But purchase or not, NCNR is currently a place of solitude for me. A sorbet for the mind; noiseless, straightforward and inarguable.