Daiki Suzuki of Engineered Garments Talks Inspiration, Recreation, and Local Manufacturing

Daiki Suzuki founded Engineered Garments in 1999 to create his own vision of classic military apparel, tailoring, workwear, and sportswear. His designs tend to blend nostalgia with utility, tradition with playfulness to create pieces that feel both fresh and familiar. We were able to interview him about his inspiration and his practices.

Interview by Storr Erickson.

I understand that you were born in Hirosaki, were interested in fashion from a young age, studied at the Vantan Design Institute. What interested you about fashion even when you were young? 

Watching American movies and dramas when I was young influenced my sense of fashion.

Movies - Fred Astaire in Funny Face, James Dean movies, West Side Story, Peter Fonda in Easy Rider, Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke, Dustin Hoffman’s The Graduate, American Graffiti, Animal House, Love Story, and many more.

Dramas - David Janssen in The Fugitive, Bewitched, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Combat!, Mission: Impossible, The Invaders, Ironside, and so many more.

How has that love of fashion evolved in your experience?

Very naturally. The more I learn, the more fascinated I become.

There is so much love for Japanese interpretations of American garments. Why do you think that interplay of cultural elements resonates with so many people?

I have no idea. I just have been doing what I like and what I believed in for a long time.

What is it about vintage military and workwear garments that speaks to you?

I was able to access them when I was young, and I really enjoyed the look and found it interesting. I never thought vintage clothing would become as popular as it is now.

What does “MADE IN NEW YORK” represent to you?

I had to do it here basically. Most of the designs and constructions we liked couldn’t be done without communicating with factories on a daily basis. It’s just better for us to work locally to produce what we really want to make.

The fabrics you use range from duck canvases that are almost synonymous with workwear to cotton-poly leopard jacquards. Are there qualities that you look for in a fabric?

Fabric quality has to be at a certain level, otherwise we cannot work with them.

We started out using all-natural fibers, but we use a broader range of fabrics now.

If you had to wear one piece from your latest collection every day, what would it be?

The bandana is a piece I can carry every day.

Have you ever looked through an old catalog from a brand no longer around and wished you could have collaborated with them?

There are so many, from Willis & Geiger to Williwear.

Many of your pieces draw from vintage outdoor clothing. What are your favorite ways to use outdoor spaces in New York?

Long Beach and Rockaway for surfing.

Roscoe and Catskills for fishing and camping.

Central Park and East River Park for running.

Shop Engineered Garments.

Photos by Stephen Han

Produced by Michael Stewart