Kustom Style | Yokohama-Based Lifestyle Shop
Words & Photography Luke Ray.
I didn’t go to the 2013 Yokohama Hot Rod Custom Show, but I did, of course, see heavy coverage from the event. Amidst all the incredible cars and bike I was seeing, something stood out for me; a metal flaked, airbagged lowrider-style Camaro. With the images dragged and dropped into the ‘future content’ folder on my hard drive, I then looked to chase up the car for a feature as I was preparing for a trip to Japan mid last year that fed the Japan Issue, that you may have seen.
Unfortunately, on that occasion, the stars did not align, and I came home with some incredible content but no sparkly Camaro on the SD card. So it was of course very exciting when more cheap flights came along and the next thing I knew, I had booked myself a second Japan trip of the year to attend the 2014 YHRCS. Thanks to the ever-helpful staff at Moon of Japan, I made contact with Mr Daisuke Sakon, owner of the Camaro and of Kustom Style, a retail business in downtown Yokohama. Sakon-san kindly invited me to visit his shop and catch up.
It ended up being my last stop before flying back to Melbourne, so with my bags packed and just a few Yen left in my pocket, I dropped into Kustom Style to take a look and have a chat with Sakon-san. No, it’s not a full feature on the car, but I had merely an hour to check out his two awesome shops, the Camaro, and have a chat, so here’s a brief insight into Kustom Style and the gentleman behind the concept.
When did you start the first Kustom Style shop, and why did you start it?
In May 2001 I started the business.
I used to work at Mooneyes here in Yokohama, which included a chance to work at Mooneyes USA for three months. I received a stimulus from the Californian sunshine!
Why did you locate the shop in Yokohama?
I was born and raised in Yokohama town, so it was natural to locate my shop here.
What kind of products do you sell?
Original clothing brands such as Kustomstyle, Bellflower and other domestic and import apparel brands. Die-cast cars, some vintage signs and lights, many many goods from ‘SO-CAL’ culture.
You expanded to have two shops. When did that happen and why did you get the second shop?
Too many products in one small shop! So I needed more space. The first original shop; ‘So-Cal’ sells some imported brands and goods. The new shop; ‘LoCa’ stocks original clothing and domestic brands.
The Camaro - when did you get it and was it stock when you bought it?
I bought it in February 2013. It was like a junkyard car...
Which model is it?
1971 Camaro RS.
What modifications have you done to it?
Body repair and custom paint by Planet Arts
Pinstriping - Sugi-sack.
Ridetech air ride suspension.
Custom made 14x6 Reverse Star 30 gold spoke wire wheels.
Some billet parts.
Budnik steering wheel.
Dakota digital hi-fi.
Vintage Air air conditioning
What comments and reactions do you receive about the Camaro?
Some older guys, they know the ‘80s lowrider custom car scene. They say "Yeah nice!". Usually, a lowrider base car is an Impala, Cadillac, Lincoln etc; full-size cars.
But I chose a ‘70s muscle car. Many people are surprised. "Camaro Lowrider?" they say. “Camaro can’t be a lowrider base car right?!”. So, it’s a lot of fun talking to people and hearing their opinions.
Tell us about the custom cars and bike culture in Japan? What is it like?
There are many wonderful builders, painters and pinstripers in the Japanese scene at the moment.
Has the culture changed over the last 10 years? If so, what are the changes?
Ten years ago there were just a few cars in the Hot Rod Custom Show that were imported from the USA. But now almost all the cars that are customised, painted and modified in Japan are American. Both cars and clothing both have their own ‘Japanese Original Style’ now.
What car styles are you into?
I like ‘70s lowriders. But not only 70s, I like custom cars, lowriders, pro-touring cars, all slammed cars! So I imagine a new mix of style concepts. My other car project is a ‘ 49 Ford and I also made a ‘64 Chevy II Nova wagon in a similar style to my Camaro.
What future plans do you have for the shop and the Kustom Style business?
My life and shop concept is ‘cars’, not a clothing shop. I want to create a lifestyle environment.
Over the next few years, I will open one shop in Motomachi and I will look for one more warehouse space. I will include cars, clothing, tattooing etc. A space that is more fun for my customers.
What will your next car project be?!
My daily driver is currently an Astro Van, but I hope to change to a ‘53-’54 Chevy wagon.
Not to be a show car, but a daily drive custom car.
This article first appeared in Fuel Magazine issue 19.
Follow Sakon-san: @kustomstylesc.