An illustrious menswear podcaster shares rare Japan treasure-hunting tips & salutes his sublimely strange bootleg Nikes

James Harris of "Throwing Fits" drops some gems on us

This is HARD TO GET, a weekly newsletter about awesome stuff that’s (almost) impossible to find online. 
James Harris -- pictured here in a lovely Lithuanian Olympic Basketball Team x Grateful Dead tie-dye tee -- cohosts the extremely sharp, extremely funny "Throwing Fits" podcast with his buddy Lawrence Schlossman, pictured left. Mixing irony, sincerity and savvy, they run through trends in fashion and culture generally, quizzing likeminded guests like Jonah Hill, Nicole McLaughlin, Mister Mort, and Chris Black.

A Manhattan native, Harris was once the style editor at Complex and currently oversees social media, among other things, for Def Jam. The other day he called us to talk about Throwing Fits; its predecessor, Failing Upwards; and some of HTG's favorite topics: Japanese menswear stores, Japanese hardware stores, and absurd bootleg Nikes. 
HTG: How did Throwing Fits come together?  

JH: Lawrence and I have been friends for 10 years now. We started out at the lowest rung in the menswear world, working at a sales and P.R. showroom. We bonded over the fact that we were both broke, subsisting off $5 Subway sandwiches and going to fashion events because there was free booze. We reconnected a few years later when I was working at Complex and he was doing Four Pins, and we did a video sketch series making fun of the fashion world called “Fashion Bros.” After a while we started a podcast, Failing Upwards, as a reason to hang out together. Someone at Barstool brought us on, and we pivoted from telling stories of the downtown menswear scene into an interview show. With Throwing Fits we’ve gone totally independent -- basically starting from scratch. 

HTG: There's a clear love for menswear to the show, but skepticism, too.  

JH: It's two streetwear-menswear enthusiasts who know that talking about clothes can be boring so we have on musicians, media people -- if you're interesting, we wanna have you on, and we'll talk about everything from sneakers to politics. It's not skepticism so much as we understand the absurdity of it. It's just clothes, bro. The bees are dying. There's a virus epidemic. But who better to hold up a mirror than actual enthusiasts?  

HTG: What are some under-the-radar, hard-to-get things you're into these days?

JH: I'm half Japanese so I go  every year to visit family in Tokyo, and I always carve out a day or two to hit up my shops. I love going to hardware stores and the dollar stores, like Hyakin, that they have in every train station.
There's a Muji concept store where they try more experimental stuff than you typically see in a Muji -- everything's a bit more out there. It's in Aoyama, close to the Nepenthes store, which is a must go-to in Tokyo. The retail experience in Japan is so next-level -- everything from the incense they're burning to the 16th century wood on the floors. You want to buy stuff in Japan just to bring a piece of the vibe home with you. 

Okura (pictured above) is in this, like, old temple and sells Blue Blue, which is all indigo-dyed clothes. Hollywood Ranch Market, in Daikanyama, has a very Laurel Canyon, Southwestern kind of vibe. In Naka-Meguro I like Bamboo Shoots, on the canal, which carries outdoor gear like Gramicci Japan, this brand Wild Things, and proprietary stuff like Japan-only Patagonia and North Face. 

In L.A. there's a store called Counter Space that has a lot of Japanese home goods, lighting, art, furniture -- it's the closet thing I've found in the U.S. to popping into a store in Japan. 
HTG: OK, you sent us a picture of your most-cherished sneakers. They’re nuts. What's the story? 

JH: In 2006, when I was a junior in college, I did a study-abroad program where we went to a bunch of different cities. One was Beiing, which was gearing up for the 2008 Olympics. In our free time we went to a market on the outskirts of the city, and we were the only foreigners. I wasn’t a full-blown sneakerhead, but I found this store in the basement where the amount of obviously fake Nikes was crazy. 

I saw these Air Force Ones with the Popeyes logo and the old Popeyes color scheme, before it changed to maroon. Growing up, my friends and I ate so much at the Popeyes on Chambers Street -- R.I.P. -- that after a while the woman at the counter said, It’s insane how much you guys come in here, you guys deserve these 10% off Popeyes VIP cards. 

So I saw these and I was like, Yo these don’t exist anywhere else. They're obviously not real, the colors are disgusting — I have to buy these. The way you haggle in Beijing is they type in their price on a digital calculator, you say "fuck you" and type in your price, they say "fuck you" back... I think I paid $8 for them. They're absurd, but they’re the biggest flex. I can put them on Instagram and get a huge reaction: It's not about price, it's kind of about rarity, but mostly it's about "You didn't see this coming."

By now the rubber's cracking, the paint's peeling, they’re so ugly and misshapen that whenever I wear them they hurt and I feel like a Sesame Street character, but they’re amazing. I’ll never let these go.

-Subscribe to Throwing Fits on iTunes here.
-Their Patreon is here and their Instagram is here. 
-James is on Twitter and Instagram.   
-The archive of Failing Upwards episodes is here.