The secrets of why the media editor of a long-standing department store chooses Glenroyal
Keita Tashiro, Editor-in-chief of ISETAN MEN’s net
The Japanese love the aging and maintenance
that comes with using things over a long period of time,
and that’s why bridle leather is an inevitable choice.
“ISETAN MEN’s net” launched in 2013 as the official media source for the men’s annex of Isetan Shinjuku. The website underwent a wide-scale renewal aimed at building a closer connection with customers in 2015, which meant that it would play a large role in not only sharing information about products carried at the store, but also providing other details like the story behind their selection. The editorial department is composed of just four people is led by editor-in-chief Keita Tashiro. Here we speak with him about the role of media and how Glenroyal fits into the men’s annex.
Promoting familiar media production as a self-styled editor-in-chief
━What exactly does your work as editor-in-chief entail?
The truth is, “editor-in-chief” is just what I call myself; it’s not my official title (laughs). Before I was media manager of the men’s annex, it wasn’t really clear to our customers who was running ISETAN MEN’s net. That’s why I got the idea that if I were to step forward with the title of editor-in-chief, the platform would easier for people to relate to and understand. While I do have a lot of opportunities to interact with apparel designers as a facilitator, I don’t make the decisions on what the best course of action is myself. We plan things together as a team.
I originally started off doing sales and assistant buying in the store, but I always enjoyed coming up with interesting projects and then figuring out ways to spread the words about such projects to our customers when they were finished in a way that would make them want to come have a look. Luckily for me, the articles I wrote generated a response that carried over directly to the sales floor. The men’s annex is actually a bit like an amusement park for fashion, right? I was only in charge of men’s shoes at first, but now I oversee the entire annex, which is quite fun and inspiring.
Sharing the appeal of the annex is our mission.
━What is the role of ISETAN MEN’s net?
The original role of ISETAN MEN’s net was to deliver timely and daily information to our customers. But, apparently when the platform first started there were only two people running it, which meant there were limits in terms of time and how many articles they could make. Our current editorial department was started as part of the site’s upgrade in order to produce more content at a quicker pace. ISETAN MEN’s net is owned media, so it has a different income structure than other forms of media that rely upon advertising revenue. Our end goal is to have the customers become fans of the store, and this is why we make a conscious effort to place ourselves in their shoes and produce content to which they can relate. Thankfully we have some good response, with some customers even coming all the way from Osaka to spend 50,000 JPY on a suit simply because they read one of our articles the other day. When we held an ordering event for the brand Minami Shirts recently, it turned out nearly half of the visitors came because they read about it in ISETAN MEN’s net. I believe that was a result of our editorial staff actually paying a visit to the Minami Shirts workshop and then sharing what we saw and experienced their with our readers in an article that resonated with them. It’s possible to make orders directly at the Minami Shirts flagship store in Nihonbashi, too, which is why it was even more pleasing to see so many customers taking the time to come to the Isetan Men’s Annex to make their orders instead.
The popularity of UK brands lies in a sense of security
━What do customers think of products from the UK at the men’s annex of Isetan Shinjuku?
At the men’s annex we see some pretty clear divides in tastes and preferences, such as customers that like Italian brands, or those that only want British items. In particular, it seems like a lot of the people who prefer brands from the UK are doctors or executive types like presidents of companies. In the sense of “authentic quality”, products from the UK are a must for those who require apparel that suits their position. When it comes to leather goods especially, items made with bridle leather are extremely popular. I think that perhaps the culture of using things with care, maintaining them and watching them change over many years of use is ingrained in the Japanese DNA, and that once one starts looking for products like that, bridle leather is something you’re naturally going to arrive at. As a material it’s packed with qualities Japanese consumers love, with one example being the way it has bloom on the surface in the beginning then transforms over time with use.
Wallets with simple designs, and leather tote bags with an air of tradition.
━What are some Glenroyal models that have caught your eye?
I’ve always liked compact wallets, and am especially drawn to ones that have money clips attached. I try not to put anything extraneous in my billfold since it much easier to be able to just slip out notes when paying for something. That said, I’m also a fan of just packing all my bills and cards into a small purse and using it all smashed down. Bridle leather is sturdy but not overly thick, so it actually ends up looking pretty good when squished in use. Also, while it’s not something we carry at the men’s annex, I’m interested in Glenroyal’s simple leather tote bag. I don’t see many bags made of a single layer of the leather with no lining these days.
A dual nature of craftsmanship and playfulness.
━What do you personally find attractive about products from the UK?
I haven’t had a chance to go recently, but I actually stayed in the UK for a month to study English and then went to visit for three years in a row after I joined Isetan. I’m a fan of the charity shop “Oxfam”, where I bought a leather wallet and silver shoehorn around ten years ago. I also find it interesting that, even though the UK is an industrialist nation that excels in making straightforward and sturdy items like the leather or silver goods I just mentioned, they also produce a lot of playful items like these Smythson playing cards, for instance. I found this book at Northampton Museum, but I have to wonder who in the world is going to read a book all about shoehorns (laughs). I that maybe it’s this dual nature of having this somehow “industrial” feel yet also trying new or interesting things that I find attractive about products from the UK.
photoTRYOUT textK-suke Matsuda
Editor-in-chief of ISETAN MEN’s net
Keita Tashiro was born in 1985. He joined Isetan Mitsukoshi after graduating from university, starting his career by selling men’s shoes and then being placed in charge of the high-end footwear area, doing buying and product planning among other roles before being appointed media manager of Isetan Shinjuku’s men’s annex in October 2017. As the editor-in-chief of ISETAN MEN’S net, he is involved in communications strategy using in-house media and SNS.
photoTRYOUT textK-suke Matsuda