Akashi-Kama Yama Cardigan: Not Your Father’s
The Akashi-Kama Yama Cardigan is a really impressive heavy-weight cardigan, with an interesting multi-layer look that is hard to find elsewhere.
The Akashi-Kama Yama Cardigan runs warmer than you might expect, and could be a bit casual for a more formal office.
Heads up: this review is a bit shorter than others and is somewhat limited in pictures, but we’re going into cardigan season so I wanted to get it out now as a reference for people starting their winter shopping. Expect a more complete review, along with a few more of my own pictures, down the line.
Akashi-Kama, a combination of the city of Akashi and kama referring to a collar, was founded based on a story that many of us can relate to. Alec Nakashima was visiting Japan and felt inspired by the aesthetic, but nothing quite meshed perfectly with his American fashion sense. As anyone who has scrolled through Japanese eBay knows, there is some really great stuff there. Both the historic styles and the Japanese take on Americana are famous. Those same people also know there is always one or two things that just don’t work with fits here in the good old U.S. of A.
Alec wanted to find a way to bridge that gap. After designing for almost a full year, he launched his brand in 2019. Starting off with more traditional Japanese designs, such as the Noragi, Akashi-Kama quickly expanded into a number of new lines.
However, the one that stands out to me most of all was their knitwear. Coming in both sweaters and cardigans, these seemed to embody that blend of Japanese design with historic American style. The type of thing you can wear with Alden loafers or high-top sneakers. To my eye, the best is the Yama Cardigan in Green. Let’s dive in and see if it’s as good as it looks.
Disclaimer: Akashi-Kama provided this Yama Cardigan for the purpose of review, however they did not get a chance to edit or change anything prior to the posting going live, though I did have a few questions they answered as I wrote the review. All the thoughts below are accurate and true to the product received.
The Akashi-Kama Yama Cardigan, which currently comes in this green, blue, and caramel colorway, is one of those rare items where it actually looks better in person compared to the professional pictures. I know it’s typical to start big and get small, but I need to flip that here. The multilayered effect you get from the thick weave of the fabric is just too visually interesting to push to the back.
Where online this might appear that the green yarn is slightly faded, in person you actually get small hints of the yellow and green threads from the jacquard which appear and disappear as the fabric folds, twists, and stretches. Visually, it’s similar to two different fabrics layered on top of one another.
It brings the cardigan to life as you wear it.
Taking a step back, the overall colorway works really well. The faux-horn buttons have a slight frosting to them, bringing a slightly vintage/faded aspect. The ribbed cuffs and waistband are each a bit over 3” in length in this size. They fit in well with the overall shape.
The shoulders are slightly dropped – not too much, but it leans into the casual vibe.
Overall, I’ve found this to be incredibly versatile. 99% of the time I’m wearing navy, indigo, or khaki-colored pants and this works great with each. From ivy-inspired outfits to more casual looks, it really is the type of thing that works with just about everything.
The Akashi-Kama Yama Cardigan fits ever so slightly smaller than standard sizing, however their size chart is right on the nose. The cut fits well with a slightly oversized look, so I would suggest going up rather than down if you’re typically in between sizing.
I’m a large in most knit pieces, but found that this fit best in an XL size – especially in the chest and shoulders.
The good news is that size exchanges are free, so if you end up going with the wrong size it is an easy fix.
This Akashi-Kama Yama Cardigan is made with surprisingly thick 7-gauge yarn. If you’re not familiar, the gauge references the number of threads over a given space. In other words, the smaller the gauge number, the thicker the thread.
7-gauge places this cardigan among the thickest weights available for this type of garment – and you can feel it. While I wouldn’t put it quite in the “coat” category, this is as warm as most of my fall weight jackets.
The yarn isn’t just heavy in gauge. It’s literally heavy. In this size, this one comes in at 671 grams / 1 lb. 7.6 oz. There are boots I’ve reviewed on this website that weigh less!
Other than the buttons, which are a faux-horn plastic similar to what is on most suits, the cardigan is 100% cotton. Surprisingly for a cardigan in this range, this means it’s actually machine washable – a big plus. Just be sure to dry it with no heat, or preferably not to use a dryer at all, if you want to keep the shape.
Where to Buy
The Akashi-Kama Yama Cardigan comes in at a price of $175. If cardigans are not your thing, they make a sweater version in a primarily camel colorway for $170. At time of writing, shipping is free for any order over $160 with code AKI.
Personally, I think this Green option is the pick of the group, but I can definitely see how someone could view any of them as their preference. The grey Crewneck in particular offers a more subtle take with all the construction quality.
I have to say, I was more than a little surprised when I opened up the package from Akashi-Kama. It’s rare when something comes through that is actually better than the promotional images show them to be.
If you’ve been on the fence about picking one up, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.