The Godfather Returns

We call him Kaneko-san, but in his atelier they call him “The Godfather”. Ahead of the launch of our new Made in Japan ready-to-wear and made-to-measure programs, our head of brand, Jonathan Lobban, sat down with the man responsible for both, Kaneko Kenichi, in Hokkaido to chat style, philosophy and culture.

A Tailoring Bromance

Our founder, Matt Jensen (“Matt-san”) and Kaneko began working together in 2007. “When you started [M.J. Bale], the company was small… Matt approached me every time he needed something, and I was happy to see M.J. Bale’s growth as if it happened to me,” says Kaneko. 

The Warmth Of The Craftperson’s Hand

There are about 75 tailors here under the watch of Kaneko and Mr. Kawamura, the workshop manager. The most senior tailors on the ground floor each have an average 40 years of experience. M.J. Bale garments are machine-sewn before components such as the shoulders and armholes are finished by hand. Almost all M.J. Bale jackets — unless requested otherwise — are full-canvas construction. 

Hand-sewn in Hokkaido

Working out of a former bank turned atelier in Otaru on the north island of Hokkaido, Japan, Kaneko and his team of expert tailors create beautifully hand-sewn ready-to-wear coats, jackets, and our new Made in Japan custom garments.