This is an interview with Javier Rodriguez, a SoCal guy with impeccable Amekaji-heritage style.
Javier Rodriguez Stats
- Height: 5’7″
- Body Type: Athletic
- Jacket Size: 40, 38
- Pant Size: 30-31 waist
An Interview with Javier Rodriguez
Now, let’s get to the interview…
At 5′7″ Do You Ever Have Trouble Finding a Garment That Fits Properly and/or Putting Together an Outfit?
Oh absolutely! I have had plenty of problems finding clothing that fits me properly. Most clothing is made for people taller and skinnier than me.
I used to be much heavier and wider, and the funny thing is that at that weight, it was actually easier for me to find jeans, chinos, and trousers that fit me the way I wanted.
That’s because my waist, seat, and thighs were all in line with each other and, at a size 36-37”, everything still came in my size. All I had to do was hem them and, since I don’t like tapered trousers, that was no issue.
Now at a size 30-31” waist, but with seat and thighs that are nearly the same size as before, it’s much more difficult to find jeans and trousers that fit how I want.
A lot of them are skinnier on me than I prefer, so I have to size up in the waist and use a belt, which is not a perfect solution. Jeans are the most difficult because it is more difficult to find wider-fitting denim. With chinos and trousers, it’s fairly easy to find wide fits that actually fit well.
With that said, I have a lot of bottoms that are too wide in the waist for me, which is absolutely a compromise that I have to make, partly because of my height.
When I was heavier, I had an incredibly difficult time finding jackets, especially leather jackets that fit me well. They were almost always too long in the body and sleeves, which was always incredibly frustrating.
Even now, finding a leather jacket that actually is as short in the body and sleeves as I want is challenging, though a little more doable.
I have a 42.5” chest so I pretty much always have to size down to get the lengths that I need. Right now, I only have one leather jacket that is actually a size 42, and I had to have the sleeves shortened on it. Otherwise, my leather jackets are size 40 or 38.
I also have two size 36 jackets that manage to fit in the chest. Going custom is obviously ideal, but there are not as many options there.
Shirts are the easiest for me by far. However, this is partly because I tuck all of my shirts in. I would definitely have trouble finding shirts from non-Japanese brands that would be short enough in length for me if I did not tuck my shirts in.
T-shirts and sweatshirts are never an issue for me because they can stretch to fit my chest.
I don’t feel that I have issues in terms of putting together outfits because I have managed to get most of what I want for my wardrobe. There are certain items that I don’t have yet because of sizing issues, such as a black cross zip leather jacket.
These are almost always too small in the chest and too long in the body for me. However, I do still have a black leather jacket in a different style, so I can still put together pretty much all of the outfits that I want.
Do You Need To Get Your Shirts and Jackets Tailored?
For more formal clothing, yes, absolutely. However, all suits and dress shirts should be tailored no matter who you are so that’s not much of an issue.
For more casual clothing, shirts are not a problem, as I said above, and I can mostly find jackets that fit the way I want.
At this point, I have just learned not to buy jackets that are too long in the body and sleeves for me.
Jacket Sleeve Length Is Often an Issue for Shorter Guys. Can This Usually Be Altered on Leather Jackets?
It can be, but it is not easy or inexpensive. In the first place, you have to find people you trust to do it. I had this done on two Freewheelers jackets, one of which I still have. The person did not do a perfect job, but they were good enough.
I still own the jacket that still fits me. However, I happen to know that most leather jacket enthusiasts trust Dena from Great Leather to alter their leather jackets. This would be the person that I would recommend contacting.
With that said, I just try to size down so the sleeves and body are not too long, or I just go custom for leather jackets.
Makers such as Himel Bros, Field Leathers, and Thedi all make amazing jackets and can customize quite a lot. Vanson is also a great option, and I think Aero will shorten sleeves as well.
The best thing to do is try on whatever leather jackets you can and see what measurements work for you. If nothing fits how you want or you cannot get any of the jackets you want in person where you live, then go custom. You could also order a jacket online if you know the measurements will work for you.
The good news is that many of the best leather jackets are Japanese, and, for the most part, Japanese jackets are made with sleeves that are not too long.
If you are shorter and your chest is not as wide as mine, you will likely have an easy time fitting into size 38 or 36 jackets from makers such as Freewheelers, The Real McCoys, The Flat Head, and Rainbow Country.
Of All the Aesthetics, Why Heritage/Vintage Style?
The Western genre has been my favorite film genre for over a decade and a half.
The whole cowboy look was something I really liked ever since I was a kid. The boots, the hats, jackets, etc all drew my attention. As I got older and wanted to dress nicer, I avoided this interest because it was too ‘out there’ and just tried to wear nicer clothing in general.
However, after a while, I became more confident and began gravitating more toward this style.
The interest in the boots and hats brought me to engineer boots, leather jackets, high-quality beaver felt hats, and then into raw denim and the heritage scene.
I love this clothing because it has that more casual appearance while still being relatively unique. I’m a history nerd so I do love older styles of clothing. Later Victorian-era clothing is something I have always been interested in for example.
I also love more formal clothing such as suits, but that always felt more intimidating to me, so I stick with the more casual Amekaji-heritage style that I have now.
What Is It About Japanese Vintage Menswear That You Love?
First of all, I have to clarify that it is vintage-inspired Japanese menswear. Unfortunately, I own only a select few vintage items. Not everything I own is Japanese, but a large percentage is, and most of my favorite clothing is Japanese in origin.
Japan is the country that started this whole Amekaji-heritage/raw denim revival style in the first place, and, in my opinion, they still do it the best.
Japanese brands and makers generally put an insane amount of thought, research, and effort into the design and craft of their clothing.
You can go on Ooe Yofukuten’s Instagram and see some of the vintage pictures that inspire their designs. When you put on one of their garments, you can feel and see how well the pattern is designed and how beautifully put together it is.
White Kloud makes his own thread from scratch for his handsewn welted boots. Matsuura-San from Clinch clearly spent an impressive amount of time and effort developing the original classic narrow last for his famous engineer boots.
No other boot rolls and ages like his. Freewheelers uses a ridiculous amount of different specific materials to make their leather jackets, and the patterns and construction are unmatched.
Overall, for the most part, Japanese brands and makers are often the pinnacles of their category in this style of clothing. I love this style of clothing, but I also have this obsession with trying to find and own the best-made clothing possible, which usually leads me to Japan.
With that said, I have to point out that Japan does not have a monopoly on quality Amekaji apparel. Before he stopped, Roy Slaper made some of, if not the best jeans, trousers, and shirts in this style, and he is American.
John Lofgren has his incredible boots made in Japan because of the high standards of quality, but he is the mastermind and is also American. Brian from Role Club and Gabbard from Kreosote also make ridiculously good boots, and they are American.
One of my favorite bootmakers, Flame Panda, is headed by Peng and involves much of his family in a small workshop in China.
Also, Mister Freedom is one of my favorites as well, and they are based in the USA by the French-born design genius Christopher Loiron.
Also, all of my favorite felt hat makers — Wellema, Optimo, Tatton Baird, Vintage Silhouettes are all based in the USA. My favorite cap makers — Troy O’shea and The Well Dressed Head — are both Australian.
I could go on and on, but my basic point is that great clothing can come from pretty much anywhere. However, from what I have seen, Japan still has the most thriving industry.
You Enjoy Adding a Pop of Color to Your Somewhat Neutral Fits (Like a Yellow T-Shirt). Any Tips for Adding More Color to One’s Wardrobe?
Adding color definitely can add pop to your outfit, but I think it’s important to get the basics right first.
I largely stuck to neutrals for a while before adding brighter, more saturated colors recently. Even then, I only have a couple of brighter red shirts, one yellow t-shirt, and a few burgundy pieces, which I would argue are still rather subtle.
After sticking with mostly ecru, brown, olive, navy/indigo, and black for the most part, I started adding color after I felt pretty confident with what I was already doing.
Plus, I was inspired by other accounts on IG that I think incorporate color extremely well, such as @urbancomposition, @kevismanzi, @migigp, and @illcutz. Also, my wife @vintagefeatherr has always been incredible at matching and incorporating color.
We have been together since before I even cared about clothing, so I know that I have taken inspiration from her.
As a Raw Denim Enthusiast and Someone Who Likes To Break in His Clothes, Is There Any Place for Stretch Fabrics, Loungewear, or Athleisure in Your Wardrobe?
Every fiber of my being wants to say absolutely not, but I do have to admit that I use stretch and tech fabrics for workout clothing. Other than that, however, I do not believe that anything that you listed should have any place in this type of wardrobe.
This is not to say that it won’t or hasn’t already made its way into the Amekaji-heritage style, but I won’t be buying anything like that.
There already are stretch raw denim jeans. Even some more well-known Japanese brands such as Oni have offered raw denim with some stretch in the fabric. Personally, I think it partially defeats the purpose of this clothing.
Then again, I’m a bit of a traditionalist known for telling people who even wear tapered 100% cotton jeans to “get off my lawn” so I am probably not the best person to ask about this.
Like I said, it’s already here to a degree, and I think it will make its way into the style more and more, but it’s not for me. I think Freewheelers did some tech or tech-adjacent stuff not too long ago for example.
I know some guys wear raw denim with other more lounge or tech-oriented stuff. My buddy @thedenimdentist wears some sort of workout/tech t-shirt with his raw denim, boots, and leather jackets. Again, I don’t know much about this stuff in the first place, but it’s already around in this subculture if you look for it.
What Do You Wear To Work Out or Hike (if You Do These Things)?
Hiking is something I rarely do, but I wear my normal, everyday Amekaji style wardrobe when I do. Working out is different. As I stated previously, I do wear actual workout-specific clothing for working out.
If I am lifting heavy at the gym, especially for deadlifts and squats, I will wear the
I have seen people do this trying to look tough, and I think it’s a comically embarrassing example of insecurity in one’s own masculinity.
Beyond Baseball Caps, Most Men Shy Away From Wearing Hats. If Someone Wants To Experiment With Wide Brim Hats, What Should They Try First?
I eased my way into it. The first actual felt hat that I bought was a cheap wool pork pie hat from a Tilly’s or something like that. However, I did not wear hats for a while after getting into this style.
Once I was more confident and had built up a bit of a wardrobe, I purchased my first truly nice 100% beaver felt hat. By that point, hats fit seamlessly into my wardrobe.
However, I have to point out that nothing will make you stand out like wearing an actual full brimmed, fur felt hat in public. I get more stares and comments (both positive and negative) because of my hats.
Even my Himel Bros grizzly jacket did not get as many comments as my hats do. You just have to have confidence.
What Are Your Thoughts on Modern Brands That Adopt the Heritage Aesthetic Like Buck Mason and Taylor Stitch?
I am not a fan. For me, a major aspect of this clothing is the quality and craftsmanship of the clothing as well as the passion behind the design and creation of each item. Brands such as the ones you mentioned use ‘heritage’ only as a veneer.
To me, heritage means clothing and designs that have been passed down or will be passed down. For example, Brian from Role Club doesn’t technically have any heritage in terms of his brand yet, but he absolutely will.
He often talks about how he hopes that future cobblers will notice his boots as unique when they are being repaired decades from now.
That type of passion is what I look for in the clothing I purchase, and when you outsource your production as Taylor Stitch, Buck Mason, and RRL have, you show that you care more about sales volume and money than quality and craftsmanship.
These brands are what I call faux-heritage. Their motivations and their products have the veneer of heritage in order to sell themselves.
Where Do You Shop for Basics Like T-Shirts and Crew Socks?
I don’t wear t-shirts as undershirts. All my t-shirts are worn as outerwear, so I buy them from the same types of places and brands as my other clothing.
I do have some old cheap socks that I still sometimes use, but I try to buy good quality socks from Chup, Red Wing, Kapital, Anonymous Ism, etc.
Any Final Words of Wisdom for Guys Just Getting Into Casual Vintage Menswear?
Don’t ever mix black and brown leather! In all seriousness, one of the best things about this type of clothing is that you do have a lot of freedom to do whatever you want.
I am quite rigid in my “rules” of style, but most people are not like that at all, and it’s really one of the most welcoming and easy styles to get into.
What matters most is buying well-made goods and caring about the ethics of clothing production. After that, nothing really matters much, and you have free reign to find your own style.
Some people don’t even really care about the style aspect and just care about the quality and durability of the clothing, which is quite unique among clothing styles.
To me, style is about making you feel as comfortable, happy, and confident as you can be, and I think this is a great style and scene/hobby to be a part of. I have made some great friendships in this clothing niche which is so cool.