10 Questions: Nakagomi-san of COHÉRENCE

The Armoury is very excited to host Kentaro Nakagomi of COHÉRENCE for made-to-order trunk shows at both our New York and Hong Kong stores. To help give our clients a better idea of the origins of the brand and Nakagomi-san’s personal style, we sat down and asked him 10 questions

COHÉRENCE is inspired by legendary artists, writers, musicians, and intellectuals that all synthesized at the same time.

The Armoury: Where does the name COHÉRENCE come from?

Nakagomi-san: The name comes from a physics term that refers to wave sources that are synchronised or in alignment. Similarly, COHÉRENCE is inspired by legendary artists, writers, musicians, and intellectuals that all synthesized at the same time. It was this synthesis of personalities and talents at that specific moment in time that drives the guiding theory of the brand. Additionally, I really liked the way COHÉRENCE sounded and the way it looked when written.

TA: Can you talk about your time in the clothing industry? What led up to the creation of COHÉRENCE? Are there any stories that you can share with us?

N: I started in the clothing industry over 17 years ago when I attended university to learn about textile manufacturing and fabrication. Not long after, I was hired as the in-house designer for a British label. On the weekends I spent my time with a Japanese tailor that learned to create bespoke garments in Naples, Italy. He taught me the European style of patternmaking, cutting, & sewing. At that label, I spent a couple of years leading product development with their European factories and as design manager before launching COHÉRENCE.

TA: Why is it so important to make COHÉRENCE entirely in Japan?

N: Unfortunately, there are no longer many factories in the world that specialize in making overcoats. I searched for a manufacturer that could offer everything I needed in terms of fabrication and material innovation and the best ones that I found were in Japan. The factory that we use has been manufacturing outerwear for over 50 years. Additionally, Japan was best suited for creating the COHÉRENCE line because they offer the best in terms of machinery, finishing, and technological innovations for fabric.

TA: Where did your interest in the artists that inspire COHÉRENCE stem from?

N: I grew up in a household that nurtured creativity. My parents loved music, arts, books, and film and those things stuck with me from a young age. I was particularly inspired by art in the 1910’s, 20’s, & 30’s and things like the Bebop Jazz movement. As a child, I immersed myself in the culture of that time.

TA: What is your favorite model that you make? Which one do you wear the most often?

N: Every model that I make is special to me and comes from a very specific place. That being said, the model that I wear the most currently is the “Mutt” which is long and drapey, with a double buckle front. I understand that it may not be for everyone but that is what makes it so special for me (editor’s note: this is the model Nakagomi-san wears in the pictures above). For spring, I like to wear the “Monocle”.

TA: What do you think makes COHÉRENCE special compared to other brands?

N: To me, overcoats are the most romantic garment in menswear. It’s like the black dress for a woman. That’s why I like the overcoat and choose to work with it. Also, I love European clothing and culture, but just copying doesn’t add value, you have to innovate and differentiate. COHÉRENCE attempts to mix that romanticism with the latest technology and fabric innovation. Additionally, overcoats are one of the only areas in menswear where high quality production can compete with something hand tailored or bespoke. In other words, a very nicely made overcoat can offer just as much value to someone who wears bespoke as it does to someone who wears strictly ready-to-wear. In Japan, we can offer a very high level of production and that is what helps make COHÉRENCE special.

TA: Your collection is driven by the details - when you design, do you try to make exact copies of the pictures they are inspired by or do you try to edit those designs and make them your own?

N: The pictures that I use are for inspiration - I don’t want to reproduce the exact same garment. My design process starts with researching patterns as well as getting hands-on with actual vintage pieces. I have an archive of vintage garments and books that I use to help formulate ideas. For instance, I have very old Tailor & Cutter patternmaking manuals from the late 1800’s and old European books and magazines from the 40’s and 50’s. Also, I spend a lot of time developing my own fabrics. The chevron tweed that I created uses 4 different types of wool knitted together.

TA: What are the plans for COHÉRENCE in the future? Will you expand beyond outerwear?

N: At some point I would like to experiment with other categories, but at the moment I am focused on perfecting my outerwear production. Developing fabric from raw materials is very important to me and I want to continue that. That being said, I do have some ideas for future product.

Maurice Ronet in Elevator to the Gallows (1958)
Maurice Ronet in Purple Noon (1960)
Alain Delon in Le Samouraï
Dizzy Gillespie
Lester Young in his signature porkpie
Jean-Pierre Melville
Thelonius Monk

TA: Your personal style is very unique. What inspires it?

N: Both of my parents loved clothing. Although their style was much different than mine, it created an appreciation for dress. Much like COHÉRENCE, my personal style inspiration is heavily influenced by movies and the personal wardrobe of artists and musicians like Dizzy Gillespie and Lester Young. French movies in the 1950’s like Le Samouraï with Alain Delon and Purple Noon with Maurice Ronet and French directors such as Jean-Pierre Melville influenced my style - I loved the way their clothes fit.

TA: You prefer to wear Italian tailoring - how did you get into that with all of the incredible tailors and designers in Japan?

N: My first experience with bespoke tailoring was when I was 16 or 17 and I still maintain the relationship with my Japanese tailor and mentor. He continues to make clothes for me that I love. Still, I was interested in the clothes I was seeing in European films and I wanted something authentic. Jackets that were masculine with broad, rounded shoulders. Working in the clothing industry afforded me the opportunity to travel to Italy and France and see the different styles of clothing. One day when I was buying fabric in Italy, I spotted a jacket that looked exactly like what I had wanted since I was a kid. So, I asked the man for his tailor’s name and for the past 15 years I’ve had clothes made by that same Florentine tailor.

A big thank you to Nakagomi-san for taking the time to sit with us and also to Misako-san for assisting with translation.