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New ShinkanShirt: Japanese Bullet Train Shirt

Shinkansen Shirt

The long-awaited ShinkanShirt is finally here! A unisex button-up shirt with a pattern of Japanese shinkansen bullet trains.

Available in the shop now, only at Cakes with Faces:

Obsessed with the Shinkansen

I’ve always been fascinated with the Japanese bullet train. I remember when I first heard the name “shinkansen” in a geography class at school – it sounded so magical.

So on my first trip to Japan, back in 2010, I knew I had to take a trip on it. It was just a short journey, on the way back from Mount Fuji on an organised day trip, and I was amazed at how smooth and quiet it was. And the feeling when a bullet train zooms through when you’re standing at a station!

I just love the look of their aerodynamic noses. They look so futuristic – I can’t believe Japan’s had the bullet train since the 1970s!

Since then I’ve been on them many times, in fact the whole length of Japan from Kagoshima in southern Kyushu to Hokkaido, Japan’s winter wonderland in the north. I’ve been on the Hayabusa, the fastest train, which runs through Tohoku at 320km/h and I’ve seen the shinkansen kiss, where two trains are joined together at the nose.

Shinkansen Kiss

Videos from Japan

Here are some of my videos from Japan about the bullet train:

Designing the Pattern

I’d already turned the shinkansen into a character for my Tokyo City of Kawaii pin series – and also the shinkansen washi tape. I’ve used it in lots of my designs, because it symbolises what’s cool and modern about Japan.

Shinkansen Pin

One day I was playing about with patterns and I made a stripy pattern for a button-up shirt, just as a mock-up. Turning it at a diagonal angle made it more dynamic, and the light blue just worked straight away.

I like how the pattern’s quite subtle – it looks like a regular striped shirt from a distance, then when you look closer: TRAINS! Lots of my dress designs also have fun hidden details or have more to them when you realise at first glance – like the cake-themed constellations on the Starry Night galaxy dress.

Bullet Train Shirt Close-up

Getting button-up shirts made is quite risky for a small brand, because you have to order many of them in one go, before you know if anyone will buy them. Before they’re made, you need to start with a sample which is very pricey (costing far more than the shirts sell for). So I left it on the back-burner for a while, but eventually I knew I had to make it happen!

They’re made by the same manufacturer as the Hawaiian shirts, so I knew they’d be good quality. That’s what they specialise in – nothing but shirts! The sample looked good, but the pattern was slightly larger than I’d been imagining. If the trains are too large, it makes it look like more of a novelty shirt, so I made the pattern slightly smaller and more subtle. It can be tricky to judge this on a screen, so I printed out the design at different sizes. It’s always tricky judging what will work best.

There are always hundreds of these tiny decisions to make with every new product!

Bullet Train Shirt Pattern Size

100% Cotton Shirt

The shirts are made of 100% cotton fabric, so they’re high quality with soft fabric that’s comfortable to wear, even when it’s warm.

They’re short-sleeved, with a chest pocket. You can wear them on their own, or layer them over a t-shirt for a more casual look. Maybe you could even get away with wearing them to work? If anyone works at a railway, please do send me a pic – I always love seeing my designs in the wild!

ShinkanShirt Collar

Unisex Sizes

The shirts are unisex, and they’re available in medium, large, XL and 2XL.

I really wanted to offer a larger range of sizes, but initially the manufacturer would only allow three size variations, and would only allow more if I doubled the quantity I was ordering. With a new design I wasn’t comfortable with that, and I managed to convince them to let me have four different sizes. If they’re popular and I’m able to re-order, I’m hoping to offer more size options in the future.

For now, here are the measurements – if you’re not sure which is best for you, as always feel free to get in touch. And if you need to exchange after trying it on, it’s absolutely fine to send it back and swap for a different size, as long as it’s still in original condition.

Button Up Shirt Sizes

Available Now

The new shirts are now available and ready for immediate departure!

Thanks so much for your support – and it’s great to know I’m not the only one who loves the shinkansen!

Bullet Train Shirt