Toyo Enterprise is a clothing manufacturer founded in Sumida Ward, Tokyo, in 1965. Its predecessor, a company called "Koshokusha," was established in the 1940s and initially engaged in the trade of fabrics.
In the post-war period, efforts to dismantle the zaibatsu, which had dominated the Japanese economy, accelerated to revitalize economic activities. "Koshokusha" was a trading company affiliated with the Mitsubishi zaibatsu, and it was one of the companies born during this era.
In post-war Japan, which had become a scorched battlefield, "Koshokusha" started producing souvenir jackets for American soldiers as souvenirs, and these became a big hit. During the heyday of souvenir jackets in the 1950s, they held a market share of 95% in deliveries.
In 1965, as the United States became deeply involved in the Vietnam War, with American soldiers overflowing into Japanese military bases, "Koshokusha" dissolved. In its place, "Toyo Enterprise" was established as a new clothing manufacturer catering to American soldiers on military bases.
Then, in 1975, when the Vietnam War came to an end, they transitioned to become a domestic clothing manufacturer. Today, they have a wide range of planning and manufacturing in American casual wear.
Prominent brands include Tailor Toyo, Sugar Cane, Sun Surf, Buzz Rickson's, among others.
Toyo Enterprise's brands are known for their dedication to vintage reproductions and often offer a lineup of niche products. Consequently, they may not be widely known to the general public, but they enjoy strong support from enthusiasts who value authenticity.
Five Popular Brands of Toyo Enterprise
Here, we'll introduce five popular brands of Toyo Enterprise:
Tailor Toyo is Toyo Enterprise's brand specializing in sukajan (souvenir jackets). Its origins date back to the chaotic post-war period. At that time, Japanese people who were very poor set up stalls in the Ginza area to do business, aiming to get money from American soldiers. Traditional Japanese items like kimonos, obi, and dolls were sold there and became extremely popular as souvenirs for American soldiers.
Employees of "Koshokusha" observed this scene and came up with the idea of creating "souvenir jackets" for American soldiers. They mimicked the easy-to-approach baseball jacket and adorned it with traditional Japanese embroidery like dragons and tigers.
When these were sold at stalls, they became an instant hit, leading to the birth of today's sukajan. Their popularity caught the attention of buyers at military base stores, and they began to be delivered to military bases all over Japan.
The reputation extended not only in Japan but also to overseas military bases. The sukajan-making journey that began with Koshokusha continues under the name of Toyo Tailor to this day.
Sun Surf is Toyo Enterprise's brand of aloha shirts. In the 1950s, aloha shirts reached their peak, and printed fabrics were ordered from the mainland United States and Japan.
At that time, Toyo Enterprise's predecessor, Koshokusha, was involved in the import and export of fabrics. They also developed their in-house brand of aloha shirts and supplied them to American soldiers stationed in Japan.
Due to such background, Sun Surf as an aloha shirt brand started in the early 1970s. To accurately convey the charm of vintage aloha shirts that are difficult to obtain today, they are meticulous in reproducing every detail.
They analyze vintage aloha shirts collected as references from the founding to adopt traditional dyeing methods such as stencil dyeing. This process reproduces the vivid colors and deep hues characteristic of the shirts.
Furthermore, they thoroughly pursue their appeal, including silhouettes, sewing methods, and labels, based on the era and manufacturer.
Faithful reproductions of vintage aloha shirts by Sun Surf have earned high praise from collectors around the world.
Buzz Rickson's is a brand that pursues the history and pride of flight jackets. It was established in 1993.
The brand name is derived from the character played by Steve McQueen in the movie "The War Lover."
Buzz Rickson's items are consciously designed to resemble vintage pieces, striving to recreate them as authentically as possible.
Military specifications (mil-spec) are adopted, and they pay meticulous attention to everything from spinning yarns, weaving fabrics, and fabric materials to military parts for various components and overall forms. The high level of craftsmanship is evident.
Among their items, the reissue series of jackets such as the MA-1 produced by Lion Uniform in 1957 and the N-3B produced by Skyline Clothing are especially popular, making them the face of Buzz Rickson's.
Since the release of their first flight jacket in 1993, Buzz Rickson's has continued to reissue various military wear items. Their commitment to authenticity and quality has earned them immense popularity among collectors.
In addition to flight jackets, items such as T-shirts, sweatshirts, shirts, and pants are also popular, and these items, collectively referred to as "Buzz," are beloved by a wide range of fans.
Sugar Cane is a brand that has a long history with Toyo Enterprise, established as an American clothing manufacturer.
They primarily offer authentic American casual wear items, with a focus on denim. The origins of Sugar Cane can be traced back to Toyo Enterprise's founding in 1965.
Initially, Sugar Cane did not have its brand name, but it was born as a manufacturer of clothing for US military personnel in Japan when the US became deeply involved in the Vietnam War. They also distributed US military surplus goods within Japan.
When the Vietnam War ended in 1975, they transformed into a clothing manufacturer primarily for the domestic market. It was at this time that the brand name "SUGARCANE" was introduced.
While being a Japanese brand, their products were originally made for the American market. The genuine craftsmanship inherited from American production is still highly appreciated by users today.
GOLD is a brand launched by Toyo Enterprise based on their expertise in vintage reproductions. It started in 2016.
Despite being a relatively new brand, GOLD has gained popularity not only among American casual fashion enthusiasts but also among those who had no prior familiarity with American casual fashion.
True to its brand name, GOLD's items capture the atmosphere of the golden age of America while incorporating modern adjustments in terms of silhouette and materials. Their items blend the old and the new, exuding a refined aura.
For example, even with impactful sukajan jackets, the materials and cuts in GOLD items are arranged in a contemporary style. This makes it easy to incorporate them into everyday outfits and appeals to those new to American casual fashion.
Though they feature classic items, GOLD's products exude freshness, attracting not only seasoned American casual fashion enthusiasts but also gaining new fans.
Toyo Enterprise's Evaluation in the Secondhand Market
Up to this point, we've introduced Toyo Enterprise's particularly popular brands. Looking at past purchase records and current evaluations in the secondhand market, brands such as Sun Surf, Tailor Toyo, and Buzz Rickson's stand out with exceptionally high ratings.
While limited models and rare items contribute to these brands' elevated status in the secondhand market, even non-special items from Toyo Enterprise enjoy overall high regard.
The secondhand market itself is vibrant and active. Buzz Rickson's, known for its well-crafted items, has a strong user base that is willing to pay a premium, and this reflects in the high average prices in the secondhand market.
Moreover, enthusiasts who appreciate Toyo Enterprise's commitment to authenticity have helped elevate the overall value of the brand in the secondhand market.