Talon zips and velvet chandeliers: The Real McCoy’s headquarters in Kobe, Japan

Wednesday, July 26th 2023
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The Real McCoy's headquarters in Kobe, Japan is extraordinary. 

I had been warned it would be, but it really didn't prepare me for the scale of the operation or for the mix of craft and eccentricity. 

The company owns four warehouses in the port of Kobe, down by the water. They are huge, triple-height buildings, mostly used by neighbouring companies for importing and exporting food. Apparently all the region's school meals come through here; big white bags on trolleys come by stamped 'tapioca'

The main warehouse McCoy's uses is accessed by a huge brushed-steel door. Inside this, they've built an artificial concrete hallway, which leads you some 15m into the building (above). 

A few bits of the design, like this one, come from the fact that the space was originally intended as a combination shop/cafe, as well as an office. The walls of the first room are decorated with hundreds of Star Wars toys on one side and vintage Fire-King mugs on the other for the same reason. 

These are from founder Hitoshi Tsujimoto's personal collections, about which much more later.

This ground floor is subdivided into several open rooms (no ceilings) which are used as a design office, a vintage archive, a hardware store and a stock room (above).

Not much of the production is done here - exceptions are leather jackets and printed T-shirts - but most of the materials and hardware go through. 

The racks of both vintage and McCoy's stock are obviously absorbing as a customer. It's hard not to start flipping through the rails of vintage references and old McCoy's products, and some of the former are amazing (below). 

But actually, the things that impressed me most were to do with the production. 

The first was the fabric samples in the design room (below), which cover an entire wall - even though the company's only been keeping a record for four years. Ninety-nine per cent of the fabrics McCoy’s uses are exclusive (even sleeve linings) so there are a lot of them. 

This also means big volumes. The minimums for exclusive nylon are huge, so it all has to be stored here, awaiting use. Cotton thread is the same - the company only uses pure cotton, but that’s rare in Japan (it’s mostly used for baby clothing). So big minimums have to be ordered, and stacks of it stored away. 

The second thing was the vintage hardware. 

One room tucked along a wall has shelves upon shelves of the company’s hardware: zips, pullers, studs, all custom made. (Which is very rare - perhaps a handful of the manufacturers I’ve ever covered do this.)

But then in a set of shelves at the end are several crates of vintage zippers - old Talon ones. “We bought all these in the 1980s, at a cost of about $10 a bag,” says Kent (pictured above in the fringed jacket), Hitoshi's son. “That seemed crazy then, but now they cost $5 per zipper.”

The vintage pieces are all gradually being used in McCoy's products, and will of course eventually run out. But for all those buying today, what a great addition to something trying to be a really authentic historic product. 

"You should have seen this whole area 10 years ago", says Kent. "It was a mess, everything written by hand, no stock tracking. It took me five years to sort and codify it all."

The Real McCoy's as a company was founded in 1990, but has been owned by Hitoshi since 2003. He ran a chain of vintage stores at the time that also sold repro clothing, and was McCoy's biggest stockist. 

In the past few years Kent - American educated and an ex-professional baseball player - has helped modernise the business, with help from his brother. "He works in IT and created our internal software system," Kent says. "That's made such a difference." 

Kent is a product person, always happy talking about loopwheel knitting or the intricacies of denim. He runs the McCoy's production, managing suppliers and the company’s factories, of which there are an increasing number following issues with suppliers during Covid.

Those pressures have also changed the way the company sells: in the early 2000s it had over 100 wholesale accounts in Japan and one store. Today it has 20 accounts and nine stores.

Returning to our tour, we’re now getting to my favourite room, on the first floor. 

Climbing up a metal staircase on the outside of the warehouse, you go through a small door and enter a room that runs the length of the building. There’s a big stove at one end, with a table, a few foldable chairs, and a big vintage coffee roaster around it. It's saturated with the smell of wood and coffee grounds. 

"This is where we all congregate for lunch," says Kent, pouring us coffee. "We spend ages sitting around here in the winter, just chatting. There's no heating so it gets pretty cold." 

There are only 18 employees across the two warehouses that the company uses, so the place has rather a loose, open atmosphere - it’s rare to see more more than one person in a room. So this area serves as a focal point. 

After a few minutes, Alex (Natt, photographer) wandered over to the other end of the building. There, in glass-fronted cages, were some very rare and expensive cameras. And some watches. And many other things. 

This is where we get into Hitoshi's hobbies/obsessions. They include, or have included, sound systems, cameras, coffee, watches, fishing, and of course every type of old clothing. 

"Sometimes when he has a new hobby, the best thing is to get a shipping container in and just put it outside the building - to store it all," says Kent. 

Later he shows the one at the back that contains all of Hitoshi's fishing equipment. You unbolt the steel door, step inside, and are surrounded by racks and racks of poles, flies, nets, and other fishing-related paraphernalia that I can barely describe, let alone name. 

"It's very efficient - you can just lift in one of these things, put in light and air conditioning, and you're good to go," says Kent.

Right now, we're being led up a spiral staircase that takes us into the middle of Hitoshi's lair (above). 

Here the hobbies are on full display. At one end is a desk backed by three beautiful old Hermes bags. In front is an EMT turntable with a set of Cello amps (not something I knew - Alex filled me in) and various other models dotted around the sofas and table.

One last level up, in the roof, is a personal cinema. One sofa faces a wide screen, with the whole room clad in types of sound proofing. Even the chandelier is covered in velvet.

"My Dad patented a couple of different types of sound proofing - this one is based on a bamboo forest," says Kent. 

Charmingly, Kent also says he remembers when he was a kid spending weekends sticking foam pieces to the ceiling, under careful direction of Dad. He looks at one as we leave and presses it back into place.

Above all this is the roof, giving out panoramic views of Kobe. 

The company holds barbecues and other events up here, but until recently it was all covered with attractive indigo-dyed wood. Unfortunately the local council made them take it all off recently, and it’s now sitting in stacks next to that fishing/shipping container.

Later on we see a room filled with nothing but mammoth coffee roasters; part of another warehouse being turned into a T-shirt hub; production of horsehide jackets (the only things that are entirely made at HQ); and a yoga studio. 

There is also a World War II plane, partial and rusted, sitting amongst old furniture in the second warehouse. Apparently it was discovered by a friend of Hitoshi’s in the Philippines, dredged up and brought to Japan, but none of the museums wanted it. So here it sits, surrounded by wooden chairs and jeans adverts.

It says something about the experience of visiting McCoy's that this didn't surprise us in the least.

Many, many thanks to Kent and everyone at The Real McCoy’s for their hospitality in Japan. For more on McCoy’s products, see article here including an interview with Hitoshi.

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Amazing. Such a shame their London shop closed. Is there any plan to move to a new location do you know Simon, or was it simply not working for them?


Oh man. Now I miss the London shop even more. I bought several things there that I wouldn’t have purchased online, as pictures don’t do the items justice.


Lovely insight. Shame the UK store closed.


Thank you for this. What a fabulous place!


Ahh Simon, I was waiting for this…. and you did not disappoint. If I was a big fan of McCoy’s before, well now… just amazing. Would it be fair to say this has cemented them in your mind as a very special company as well?

The first image, with the doorway backed by that white ethereal light, like stepping into another dimension. I had a feeling just from subtle references that Hitoshi was into many things and this proves it. Also for example, using Ben Miles (Star Wars) in their new Instagram images.

There’s little point in me commenting on any specifics, between the remains of WWII planes, vintage machinery, watches, cameras and possibly the most insane, other worldly looking Buco J-24 I’ve ever seen… Can you tell I’ll be having a second read through this one with a coffee at the weekend?

Lastly – an interesting point you raise, eventually, of all the archive – they’ll run out. Surely though, that isn’t the end? There’s no one else on earth I can think of that could or will come close to bringing these vintage pieces back to life, let alone at the quality McCoy’s manage to achieve – they are simply in a league of their own.


Cheers Simon,

Ahh I see! Absolutely, Amen, RMC are already legends and I do look forward to that time in the distant future that these beautiful pieces become vintage of their own.

On that note – I got my hands on their most recent deerskin 30s leather jacket (black)… oh boy, that thing is something else, soft but thick tough veg tanned deerskin. A step away from horse hide, the only thing I can compare it to is Chapal’s sheep leather, it truly is of that same level. I need one size smaller which I hope to pick up next month. Pricey, very very pricey but it is something special.

I’ll second another readers enquiry about the denim, that’s possibly the most near perfect cut of jeans I’ve seen you in, clean, very nice.


One last question Simon I have to ask, you didn’t get a chance to ask them where they get their vintage photographs from? They’re some of the finest I’ve seen. I follow various vintage imagery accounts on Insta, but these guys seem to have an endless supply of the coolest photos from the past.


Cheers Simon, in that case the mystery remains part of the charm!


Hi Simon,
At last! I been waiting on this article since you first mentioned it and it was well worth the wait. I have three ‘M’ jackets from the Real McCoy’s that are amazing reproduction’s. This article provides and insight into why they are so authentic looking and made to such a high standard. Also their online service (where some companies tend to fall drown) in the U.K. is excellent in my experience, really going the extra mile on one particular order. After reading this article one can see why they are excellent all round. Safe to say I’m a fan! I really hope they open a store somewhere in the U.K. again at some point, but I realise the physical shop environment is challenging at the moment
On a slightly related point: I have noticed a proliferation of Japanese brands over recent years. My only other experience is with Coherence (via Clutch Cafe – again great service) which I found to be of excellent quality and design for coats. I wondered what your views are on this growth Japanese brands and specifically your experience of their products. Although I think the RM’s are a bit of a one off!


Yes I agree they are different and wasn’t directly comparing other than the Japanese origin. Agreed Coherence more a fashion brand and with some interesting influences. I was commenting more about the growth of Japanese brands where the fact they are Japanese appears key to their marketing. I would suspect there are variations in quality, with the Real McCoys in a league of their own in the reproductive space.
I’d echo the comments on a store and/or at least more places where I can see a broader range of their products as there some that are less common reproductions, it would be good to actually see before buying. Perhaps Clutch Cafe carrying more. That said I am just one person and a brand cannot base strategy that, but perhaps through PS a critical mass may come about.


Am I wrong in thinking their London store has now closed?

Nicolas Strömbäck

I have only one thing to say. Wow.

Eric Twardzik

This sounds like a dreamscape, or a setting from a Murakami novel. If it were anywhere else but Japan I’d say it couldn’t exist.

Matthew V

What an amazing place!

andrew hughes

Great article. I have just purchased a pair of their navy chinos and they don’t disappoint on the quality and details.


Do you know why they only use cotton thread?

Zak Wagner

This looks soo cool! I’ve been to the Real McCoys in Tokyo and was totally blown away. The RRL store in Tokyo is also very cool.
Great story Simon!


Interesting space! I know paul di’anno would have bought/worn that biker jacket, not sure bruce dickensen has the same level of taste: )


Great piece of storytelling and photography for an extraordinary place.


Fascinating read. RMC are really special and this article made me totally bonkers! Thanks! Read it twice already.
Years ago I had the pleasure to visit the Tokyo flagship store and it is simply amazing. The former London store, while very nice, was of course much downscaled from the Tokyo shop. Service top-notch, but in Sept 2022 it operated already through a buzzer at the door … and while I spent a good hour at the store, there were three of staff around and I was the only customer all the time. Hope they manage to find a reasonable means to operate a store in London again as that would be closer to home. The other London option for RMC seems to have a hefty markup on their pricing.


Great article. The Real McCoy’s headquarters remind me a bit of a wonderland and I think this really contributes to the authenticity of the brand. It makes me even more proud of the McCoy pieces I own!


Hi simon
couple of questions. I know you like Real McCoys ball park sweat. Any crew neck sweat you’d recommend from them in a lighter weight? There is a bewildering array.
I like the cut of the jeans you are wearing – can you tell me the make and model. And really interesting article. Enjoying the blog


Hey Simon,

Loved the article, just makes me want to go to Japan as soon as possible. All your writings over there have filled me with the utmost wanderlust.

Quick question on your outfit, since I see what your jeans are. What’s the rest of it? The field jacket? The loafers? Is that an OCBD?


Thank you so much, Simon!




As a HiFi Enthusiast (to say the least) I’m very pleased to see these nice JBL Speaker Systems (probably restored or built from scratch by Kenrick Sound), especially the Hartsfield! Always love to see people collecting beautiful stuff, admiring in a way! The Hermes Bags also look beautiful! I would love to have time (and money plus space) to do something similar one day
Thanks for the insight!


Are you planning an obit for Edward Sexton?


The Real McCoy’s is one of those brands that people always question why it is so expensive. Obviously, unless you work in the clothing industry you wouldn’t know how costly and a little crazy it is to make your own custom fabrics, hardware, etc and how high those minimums will be. Not only that but trying (and accepting nothing less than perfection) to make fabric or hardware that is a mirror image of a sample from 70 years ago.
Hitoshi is a legend and The Real McCoy’s is at the very top of its league.


I love RMC and its pursuit of perfection and authenticity and this article kind of sums up the that ethos. I cannot put my finger on it but the Sackville Street store never felt right. There was something off about the location and the vibe in the store. It was never busy when I went in and I am not at all shocked it shut down. Contrast that to the vibe in Henrietta Street in the old concession – that had a good vibe and felt more bustling. Its a shame as part of the appeal of the brand is the sheer quality and feel of the garments which can only be appreciated by seeing them in person.

Peter Orosz

That Kōno+Chemex stacked cone coffee-maker is total badass.


wow, sounds like their products are under-priced. and given repro market is quite niche anyway…how are they turning a profit?!


This is great, thanks Simon. My wife is in the market for a leather jacket and having read so much I refuse to let her buy designer tat! A female equivalent of Real McCoys would be amazing, but I imagine that is a tall ask, especially for a London based reader? Any advice otherwise?

Jakob W

If looking for the classic Moto/rocker style, maybe try Lewis Leathers on Windmill Street? Otherwise Aero Leather have some London stockists and a large mail order business – they’ll do custom/MTM also. As far as I know both do female styles.


What an amazing and inspirational place!


I’ve recently taken receipt of the 10 oz crewneck loopwheel sweatshirt. It’s everything I’d hoped it would be from a quality point of view and also from a fit perspective as well, thankfully. The latter (fit issue) however, was a lot more work than usual. When ordering online, naturally you do need to check the suppliers garment measurements closely against items of similar clothing that you already possess to get the best indication of what the fit might be like. Advice, you’ve given many times.

However, in the case of RMCs sweatshirts, the 9oz raglan, the 10oz loopwheel crewneck and the ball park – all have slightly different measurements. On receiving the 10oz, I also noted that the measurements were different to the online ones in the both the overall length and the sleeves. This in actual fact was favourable to me.

I’m basically noting the above, not to complain, but to support all those that are in favour of a physical store. I will more than likely buy from RMC again, however it is a bit nerve racking wanting to order something that is nearly £500 for the jungle jacket and nearly £800 for the M65 (both items which I have considered purchasing). The problem for me is that I am between sizes and would like to try on the items without worry of the returns process.

Daniel Mroz

Thank you, Simon. Such a treat to get the insider’s view!

Chris B

Fascinating article this from one of my favourite brands. Similar to other contributors, my thoughts were ‘this could only exist in Japan’.

Another thing that struck me, naive now I think about it, is that, while I knew loopwheel and selvedge looms were scarce, I thought that all the Japanese brands I love had their own machinery and factories but I guess this isn’t always the case or even often the case. I wonder how much is outsourced to relatively few factories. Not that it would make any difference when components, fabrics and quality are tightly controlled by another company. Of course I might be talking out of my imaginary hat here as the article does nothing to suggest TRM do this, it just got me thinking that it could be that way. If not for them but other brands


Superb, very nice information. The crew at The Real McCoy put a lot of effort and commitment into turning the chaotic location into a well-run and effective headquarters. Their dedication to producing things that are genuinely genuine and historic inspires me. The company’s dedication to quality is reflected in every facet of its operations. A truly inspirational location for anyone interested in fashion!


Great article. I moved to Japan this year and am quite shocked to see the markup on TRM prices abroad. Tax, duties and labor in the uk probably have a lot to do with that as well as a depreciating JPY. That being said, the store in London was great and so was the service through their online shop.

i recently bought a concho belt in their Osaka store and was chatting to the staff about the suppliers they work with, one of which back in the day made the whistles for the Korea japan World Cup, (also the whistles you can attach to the A-2 jacket) a very old manufacturer of brass whistles but most recently the factory stopped operating and like the concho specialists sourcing vintage conchos, these too ceased operations due to old age.

most TRM items here in Japan are sold out immediately and vintage pieces are hard to find as well, although my gut tells me the market for amekaji here, especially TRM are mostly ojisan and older guys / collectors.

Michael Kim

Hey Simon, what is the best way to reach out to Mccoy’s for a tour when in Kobe? I live in Korea and would definitely make the trip.