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Ametora: How Japan Saved American Style

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Why do you think it is that the Japanese, arguably, do American and British style better than the Americans and Brits? Anyway, apart from that, I really enjoyed learning about the history of various subcultures and thought that the following two points were interesting: Meanwhile, menswear was enjoying a revival of sorts in the United States. Online, it was referred to as #menswear—a mix of tailoring and casual East Coast prep that valued well-made goods and enthralling brand stories. Arguably the greatest influence on the trend, and on American style from 2009 until 2014, became Japan’s decades-old take on the same aesthetic: Ametora.A renowned academic and true indigo expert, Balfour-Paul is coming up on three decades of practical experience with indigo plants and dyeing, and she’s been living and working in the Middle East and North Africa researching the magic blue dyestuff.

The most enjoyable part of the book, aside from the overall context, is the collection of niche anecdotes related to the people and trends that shaped how Japanese menswear has evolved. I imagine Marx unearthed these from interviews and the extensive sources list he included in the book, but they really add color to the facts.Where Ivy League kids liked their clothes a bit ill-fitting and wore them until they were absolutely destroyed, the Japanese kids wore the same garments with much better fits, neater, and cleaner,” says Marx. “The Japanese version of American style, however, is the one today that is globally influential.”

The mashed-up, anything goes aesthetic favoured by Korea’s zeitgeist-y pop stars, who espouse a similarly genre-agnostic approach to music, is less a look and more a mindset. More is more, trends are fleeting but to be embraced wholesale, individuality is all, although ideally in a way that shows you get groupthink. In the mix here there’s preppy fashion, unstructured tailoring, big-brand streetwear and some ’80s denim for good measure. Honestly? This was THE best book I've read all year. Which is just as well, because 2016 is now almost over and I have just managed to hit my target reads for the year. Doing skate right isn’t about being first outside Palace any more. For one, all those logos are starting to feel a bit inauthentic. Instead, look to older heads, like Brendon Babenzien, who left his gig as creative director of Supreme to found Noah, which features loose tailoring alongside its logo hoodies and Aprix, which does smart-ish skate shoes. Fellow New York brand Aimé Leon Dore also does a neat spin on grown-up streetwear – think rugby shirts and cable-knit cardigans – while Awake NY has you covered for legal-drinking-age takes on graphic prints.But Japan’s love of Americana is well-documented—and taken alone, does not constitute a special relationship. The turning point between the two, however, occured in the ‘90s. By then, Japanese Americana brands had become as good as—if not better than—their American counterparts. More importantly, though, there was a nascent subversive subculture emerging in Tokyo. Ura-Harajuku, in particular, became an epicentre of Japan’s streetwear scene. It was there that the foundations for brands like A Bathing Ape, WTAPS, Undercover, GOODENOUGH, Hysteric Glamour, Cav Empt and Head Porter were laid. Other creatives, like Sasquatchfabrix’s designer Daisuke Yokoyama, were launching freepapers, manifestos of sort for graffiti and post-punk subcultures that were inspired by what was happening in America. While buoyed by a vibrant creative scene in Tokyo and predominantly inspired by local subcultures, most of the aforementioned brands considered elements of Americana crucial to their overall aesthetic, whether they be military garb (WTAPS), motorcycle culture (Neighborhood) or punk (Undercover).

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