We’ve Worn the Big John x SUN/SET/STAR Japanther Collaboration Waistcoat – This Is What It’s Like

What happens when one of Austria’s premier denim shops collaborate with Japan’s oldest denim label? Answer: the Big John x SUN/SET/STAR Japanther waistcoat. Owners of the shop, Stefan ‘Steve’ Kalch and Gerhard ‘Gerry’ Fuchs sent us a sample to wear and review.

How The Collab Came About

It all started when Kiyo from Big John visited the guys to show the A/W 2013 collection. The fit is taken from a herringbone waistcoat from this collection.

As Steve says, “it was love at the first sight; the fit and the workmanship was something we had been searching for quite some time.”

And, the waistcoat proved popular with customers too. So much so that when the guys found out that Big John were not continuing it for the following season, they suggested to do a collaboration item instead.

Vintage-Style Fabric and Top Notch Detailing

The fabric Steve and Gerry chose is called Grandrelle Navy Stripe Serge. It’s based on the 1920’s workwear material ‘Salt & Pepper;’ woven from 100% cotton in Japan. Serge was also commonly used for military uniforms and is a particularly robust fabric, yet this waistcoat has a wonderfully soft feel to it. Worn over a henley it looks fantastic. As Steve puts it, the fabric is “for all seasons, elegant but durable.”

As you’d expect, the detailing is spot on. The buttons are made-in-Japan silver plated brass. We love pocket flaps on a waistcoat, it just looks right and adds to the authentic feel. However, the flaps can be hidden in the pockets for a cleaner appearance if that’s your thing. Our favourite flourish is the extra slanted button hole for one’s watch chain – a period detail that you don’t often see these days.

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The grey inner lining and the woven label are hand-stamped with the “Japanther collaboration” emblem representing the cross-town collaboration of Graz and Kurashiki; featuring the coat of arms of both cities. The emblem also explains the name of the collab: JAPAN (Made in Japan) + PANTHER (coat of arms of Styria, the region SUN/SET/STAR is located in) = JAPANTHER.

Big John x SUN:SET:STAR Japanther waistcoat6

Part of the Mission To Make Good Things

In a previous interview, the two Austrian denimheads argued that the long-term goal of SUN/SET/STAR is to become “an institution for good things.” With items like the Japanther waistcoat they are certainly on the right track.

A chap can never have too many waistcoats and something this special is certainly worth adding to your collection. The production run is strictly limited to 40 pieces – hand-numbered – and at the time of publication it’s still available in most sizes (medium, large, and x-large), but you probably shouldn’t wait too long if you want one! It retails for €190.

So, are there plans for more collaborations in the future? “It might not be the last piece we create together, but there are no plans yet! We’ll keep you updated,” Steve says.

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