The Japanese Retailer that knows how to get it right, everytime!

A history of Beams

Words by Billy George

Beams has been a longtime favourite Japanese brand. From there streetwear inspired gear to their eloquent up-market sartorial goodies. They just get it. Their are books written about them and their influence in menswear not just in Tokyo. It's not secret that things move fast, especially in retail, from innovation and the next 'in brand' to service and experience. It's hard to keep up. Then image what 40 years would show. 

Fashion forward style-seekers sought after the Americana look that wasn't available in general stores. Mr Etsuzo Shitara started it all out of Harajuku in 1976 as 'American Life Shop Beams'. Think west-coast culture meets Japanese tailor. Partnering then with Popeye, now a huge magazine, they kept their ears to the ground on some of the best of what international goods has to offer. The years passed, the landscape changed, and Beams diversified. '79 saw Beams F. '81 saw Gallery Beams. Then Lumiere Beams, Lapis Beams and Beams Boy. Competition increased by the 90s, so they opened a cafe, a gallery, a record label, a vintage store and much much more. An inquisitive approach to retail like never before. Taking international brands and a collaborative outlook, Beams expended there horizons over four decades. Slow and steady wins the race right? 

That's when things got interesting. '99 saw Beams Plus. An Americana inspired label with expert Japanese attention to detail. 

Beams have always done amazing collaborations. Neat and simple with a twist. My favourite to date had to be this Beams x Champion sweatshirt. I saw it online one afternoon when I was browsing the web. Five minutes later, I had it in Mr Porter's shopping cart and a week later, it was in my hands. What can I say? I love it. 

What I Wore
Beams x Champion sweatshirt
GStar denim
Adidas Originals Stan Smiths
Triwa watch
Double U Frenk rings bracelets
Rayban glasses

Billy Georgopoulos