Japan tailor reveals secrets behind smooth Aso look

Mon Sep 22, 2008 7:28pm EDT
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By Isabel Reynolds

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's next prime minister, Taro Aso, is beset by problems from the sagging economy to food safety scares, but creased trousers need never be among them.

Domestic media hungry for tidbits of information about the dapper new leader of Japan's main ruling party have zoomed in on his unusual suit trousers, which are made with tiny lead weights sewn into their hems to help them hang properly.

"It's something that's often done with ladies' clothes, to put little weights in the hem, but it's highly unusual for gentlemen's outfits," Aso's tailor Seiichiro Moriwaki said in a telephone interview.

The 76-year-old Tokyo tailor has been making suits for Aso since he was a student at the exclusive Gakushuin University more than 40 years ago.

The idea for the weights came up in a discussion between the two, who call one another Taro and Seiichi, but it never caught on with other customers, Moriwaki said. "We do it just for him."

It's a trick also used by French design house, Chanel, who traditionally put a narrow chain in the hem of women's jackets.

Aso, 68, was born into a wealthy family of politicians and industrialists and Japanese TV channels have been focusing on his luxurious lifestyle, with huge family lands on the southernmost main island of Kyushu and a large home in an exclusive part of Tokyo.

"He likes English-style suits, because he studied in London," Moriwaki said. That means a slim silhouette, with volume in the chest area tapering down to narrow trousers.

English tailoring has a long history in Japan, where one of the words for suit, "sebiro," some say derives from Savile Row, a street in London known for its bespoke suitmakers.

(Editing by Sophie Hardach)

<p>Newly appointed ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) President Taro Aso sits on the chair of the president at the LDP headquarters in Tokyo September 22, 2008. REUTERS/Yoshikazu Tsuno/Pool</p>