Earlier this week, Derek at Put This On posted a lengthy Q&A with W. David Marx, Ivy Style contributor and author of the new book “Ametora” about Ivy, trad and Americana in Japan. It’s a smart conversation that Ivy omnivores will want to check out. Here’s a teaser:
It feels like Americana, prep, and denim have somewhat receded as trends in the US. Are they still important in Japan?
At this point, the Japanese fashion market is so big and diverse that it includes literally everything. Old guys buy replicas of VAN Jacket clothing from the 1960s, middle-age guys buy hardcore repro denim, young guys buy a single Thom Browne shirt and wear it untucked over shorts. A lot of American styles are just so buried into the fashion culture that they are equally common in Japan as they are in the U.S. But at the same time, the editors and stylists at Popeye are now trying to do something very different than just historical Americana or even copy current American trends.
In contrast to the above exchange, a day later the streetwear-focused website Hypebeast put up a piece critiquing Japan’s continued mining of American style, pointing out that the latest issue of Popeye is just yet another “Take Ivy’ remix. Writes Daniel Sandison:
Since 1976, [Popeye], this self-billed “Magazine For City Boys” has been informing Japan’s most fashion-forward on the trends and styles of the moment. Now monthly, the magazine has become a respected worldwide source and touchstone of Japanese fashion and culture. This month’s cover, their February Issue and annual Style Sample, mimics the cover of Teruyoshi Hayashida’s 1965 publication, down to using the very same archway on a New England campus. The coverline reads “Take Ivy 2016.”
Fashion is undeniably cyclical and this could simply be a changing of the guard, a passing of the baton from the streetwear icons to a new, more worldly and aware Japanese youth. It does, regardless, represent a cultural crossroads. If, thanks to globalisation and ease of access to culture online, the Japanese youth is no longer enamoured with the otherness of Americana, the country must begin to produce a distinguished style of its own. Doing American better than the Americans may have worked for 50 years, but this sudden halt in progress, this vacuum of ideas and inspiration, means that things are set to change. Japan, like Shōsuke Ishizu in 1965, must take matters into its own hands. But this time it must come from within. Half a century of disenfranchised Japanese youth later and the country’s creatives are finally being forced into creating something that is distinctly theirs. Unhindered by the influence of a far-off fashion superpower.
Will Japan continue mining Americana for another 50 years? But for Ivy fans specifically, do we need them to? Perhaps, like the global financial markets, the Ivy League Look is dependent on its foreign allies in Japan and England for survival, even on its home turf.