Rebuild by Needles – Rethinking Vintage

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I knew this day would come. I have finally reached the inevitable menswear milestone of developing an (un)healthy obsession for the Nepenthes family of brands. All good dogs may go to heaven, but all good bloggers eventually find their way to the land of Engineered Garments, Needles, South 2 West 8, and all the other rare and remarkable brands that line the racks at the Garment District’s only worthwhile menswear emporium. I had originally intended to write about Engineered Garments today, because this past week I purchased, and subsequently fell in love with my first piece of EG ever, an act that also happened to coincide with their release of their latest look book. But I’m sure at this point you all have already seen that collection elsewhere so instead I’ve decided to write about my favorite subrand of the Nepenthes umbrella -Rebuild by Needles.

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Needles is the literal handiwork of Keizo Shimizu, the founder of Nepenthes, and a certifiable harbinger of good taste who through his stores and brands has managed to turn the experimental into something wearable. Shimizu’s designs could easily be mistaken for vintage pieces, not only in their cut and patterning, but in their aesthetic. When you put on a Needles jacket you can almost feel the presence of a story in the seams, even if that story is yet to be told. While Needles has always comfortably butted up alongside the vintage pieces that clearly influence the line, Shimizu decided to take this approach one step further with his Rebuild by Needles line.

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The style of this line is similar to that of Takahiro Miyashita’s brand The Soloist (interestingly enough Nepenthes had a pop-up shop for Miyashita’s collection when it debuted) in which Shimizu doesn’t merely draw inspiration from vintage pieces, he actually takes a vintage garment and recuts it into something entirely original. The result is a collection of one-of-a-kind pieces that respectfully breathe new life into a classic piece. By nature the collection is scarce, and occasionally it treads a bit too far into the avantgarde for my taste, but the most recent iteration of the idea is probably my favorite so far.

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With this season’s first showing from the Rebuild line, Shimizu has ripped, cut, reconfigured, and resewn the standard olive green field shirt into a pair of trousers and what I would dub as a deck jacket. The ribbed cuffs and roll-neck collar are pretty standard for a jacket of this style, but it’s the flapped chest pocket (which of course varies in size from jacket to jacket), the hodgepodge of insignias and name tags, and the contrasting thread colors that show just how unique Rebuild pieces can be. This style is continued on through the pants which have various different patches placed haphazardly across the legs and also seem to have the occasional off-kilter pocket or name tag sewn along the side. They’re certainly not designs for everyone, but to me they’re brilliant, and inject a much needed shot of innovation in a largely staid vintage market.

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