Arts of Asia: A Japanese Ivy Illustration Gallery

In addition to meticulously researched vintage reproductions, plus the regular dispatching of photographers and reporters to capture American collegiate style in its native habitat, the Japanese have long used illustration as a way of expressing their fervent admiration of Ivy style. From stark line drawings to realistic paintings and silly cartoons, the Japanese continue to honor the art of fashion illustration decades after the American media abandoned it.

For the rest of this week I’ll be trickling out an assortment of Japanese “trad” images from Free & Easy and other sources. To avoid visual overload, I’ll present five or so per day. But for Internet archive purposes, I’ll add them all to this one post so there will be a single URL for future access. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD

Updated 2/18/13

22 Comments on "Arts of Asia: A Japanese Ivy Illustration Gallery"

  1. These are amazing… Especially the cut out Ivy Friends!

  2. Many more to come, and I just found an amazing finale for the collection.

  3. A. Willis | June 29, 2011 at 2:49 pm |

    What I’ve always found interesting about these Japanese type images is that you don’t see as many 3/2 rolls…more out and out three buttons.

  4. These are great! I have another Popeye that addresses Ivy style that I picked up in a used bookstore in Japan. It was a lot of fun to read; those Popeye writers sure had some interesting ideas about the Ivy look (like a shaggy dog sweater under a seersucker jacket!)

  5. Collegian | July 3, 2011 at 8:24 pm |

    I still think that Ivy clothing and Japanese men are visually incompatible, but these illustrations are certainly better than anything I’ve ever seen produced by Caucasians.

  6. Christian | July 3, 2011 at 8:29 pm |

    I feel the same way whenever I see white guys doing karate.

  7. Collegian | July 4, 2011 at 12:43 am |


    or white women wearing kimonos, for that matter

  8. Christian | July 4, 2011 at 8:16 am |

    I was joking, though. And Kim Cattrall looks adorable wearing a cheongsam in “Big Trouble in Little China.”

  9. Is it strange that I find the illustrations incredibly cute? Loving the Cadet Ivy Leaguer and Ivy Friends.

  10. For the Wodehousians among us, please note the yellow mackintosh — the signature garment of Stanley F. Ukridge.

  11. I’m a Japanese grown up by sbscribing The Mens Club, a fashion magazine monthly dipicting the Ivy/Trad fashion, when I was an undergraduate student in Tokyo. The image created by the magazine made me believe that the students at the Ivy League schools wear those Ivy/Trad gears everyday. I was surprised to know that they do not wear those when I came to Cornell as a graduate student in 1990 and as a visiting scholar in 2011 respectively. Why do not you take Ivy?

  12. Johnny Reb | April 16, 2012 at 8:59 pm |

    In the cover with that says VAN for the young and young-at-heart with the black suit, what is that thing called that the clothes are hung on? I’ve always had one in my room because its been passed down for generations, but I’ve never known what it’s called. I obviously don’t use it properly, and I only know one other buddy that has one (his is new).

  13. Interesting that a number of the backgrounds seem to feature European locales; particularly the image of the gentleman in the yellow mac standing amidst a quintessential Italian milieu featuring an early ’50s Belluno-registered Fiat 500C.

  14. Johnny Reb,

    That is called a valet, I believe.

  15. My valet was crafted by a notable maker in the 1910’s or 20’s. I don’t remember the name, but it was by the same person who made the dining set that’s in my mothers house. Can anyone help me out? I do recall it was mentioned in Fitzgerald’s ” The Beautiful and the Damned.” Something about “she was weeping all over the [name] furniture”…

  16. @Christian,
    You may have thought you were joking, but Caucasian women wearing
    kimonos don’t have the right bodies and simply look like they’re
    mocking Japanese culture. Caucasian men doing karate should grow up.
    Japanese men painstakingly imitating every minute detail of Ivy
    clothing are the male equivalent of Japanese women having eyelid
    operations to look like Westerners.

  17. @Tabor Kid

    The word “furniture” occurs 9 times in “The Beautiful and the Damned”, with no mention of the manufacturer. Could you be thinking of a different novel?

    88: the impersonality of furniture, but every one who came into his
    1524: a style in architecture or furniture. It’s acquired a picturesque dignity to
    4096: his books were to be but furniture and his friends only people who lived
    5543: the unfamiliar, impersonal furniture and the half-oppressive ceiling that
    8244: for which he had bought his furniture and hangings — it was the closest to a
    9687: Get up and move the furniture back. DICK: Wait till I finish my
    9720: breaking of lamps. When the furniture has been stacked in ugly masses at the
    10259: to display Anthony’s best furniture, they were clean, new, and, in a blonde
    10774: and a great amount of furniture. This was in storage, for he had spent

  18. “I still think that Ivy clothing and Japanese men are visually incompatible, but these illustrations are certainly better than anything I’ve ever seen produced by Caucasians.”

    I think that’s because much of the clothing is not produced in the right colors for most Asian people’s coloration! The Japanese penchant for exact reproductions does not help here, either.

  19. Bibliophile:
    Thanks for the insight. I was paraphrasing, so maybe the word furniture wasn’t actually used. This is killing my curiosity, but I’ll just look at the dining room set the next time I’m home.

  20. Kimonos are designed to look best on a roughly tubular body, so curvy women need padding and strapping to get things more or less in line. And yes, Western women just look off in them.

    In contrast, a cheongsam is supposed to be tight-fitting, so will flatter a curvy woman. Still, like the Vietnamese ao dai, it is probably best left to Asian women.

    Nearly any man can look good in a jacket and tie, but yes, the colors that flatter most Caucasians do not flatter most Asians, so slavish imitation will seldom make Asian men look their best. I think that’s part of why navy suits and white shirts are so popular in (parts of) Asia.

    I fail to see any connection between martial arts and “growing up,” however. Are you saying that Westerners should stick to boxing, fencing, and shooting, or are you saying that grown men should not be able to defend themselves and their families?

  21. @Henry:

    I can assure you that Caucasian men look better in navy suits and white shirts than they do in the nursery school colors favored by those who prefer “preppy” to Trad.

  22. You’ll get no argument from me, Curmudgeon.

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