Last winter, I wrote about my quixotic quest for the perfect noragi, an elusive (and oft expensive) piece of Japanese workwear—I’d describe it as halfway between a kimono and a cardigan—made popular in menswear circles by the likes of John Mayer and, well, John Mayer. To my chagrin, that quest ended in disappointment. Despite an exhaustive Internet search, which resulted in a baseless political conspiracy theory and an obscure 3 Ninjas reference, I could not find a noragi that met my sartorial and economical standards. It was a bummer. But eventually I forgot about the endeavor.
That is until last week, when an entrepreneur by the name of Jordan Bryant reached out to me with regards to his four-month-old webshop, Aesthetic Homage, which trades in affordable alternatives to the supremely fashionable stuff you might find from high-end Japanese brands (like Visvim and Engineered Garments). In particular, Aesthetic Homage specializes in noragis, and offers the widest and most affordable selection I’ve seen anywhere on the Internet. It was, understandably, a pleasant surprise.
Bryant sources his selection with the help of a friend and partner he met in China, who helps him glean the noragis from a few of his favorite independent Chinese labels, like Indigo Whale, Shock Gua and others. Sure, these brands may not employ the unique processes of higher-end brands—Bryant cites Visvim, specifically, which uses exotic materials, old dyeing practices and traditional weaving techniques for its clothing—but they’re also not nearly as expensive. For example, this Visvim indigo cotton chambray noragi, while super dope, will run you $700; an analogous one on Aesthetic Homage costs $130. Certainly, there’s a reason why the former is so expensive. But that doesn’t mean the latter isn’t nice, too. And it’s hard for the common man—hell, even an uncommon man—to imagine forking over that kind of money for an article of clothing that serves a similar as a cardigan.
With fall beginning today, there’s probably not a better time to try incorporating one of these into your wardrobe. As Bryant notes, it’s an incredibly versatile piece, yet one that’s also liable to turn heads. A louder one, like this, you can pair with a white t-shirt, jeans and sneakers; a simpler one, like this, you can throw over an oxford for a dressier look; and a heavier one, like my personal favorite, you can wear akin to the way you’d wear a light jean or bomber jacket.
Really, it wouldn't hurt to buy all three. I think John Mayer would agree.