“In Praise of Bankara Ivy,” announces the Japanese magazine Free & Easy on the cover of its May issue.
What in the world is bankara Ivy? We asked our man in Tokyo, W. David Marx, who said:
Bankara is a word that combines two other words: “ban” is barbarian and “kara” is “collar,” from “haikara” (high collar), which was basically a Meiji (1868-1912) term for “cool” or “civilized.”
I think it means something like you are wearing nice clothing, but they are all frayed and not well preserved. At the time, this was seen as a more manly and Bushido approach to life than being purely Western focused and haikara.
I think “roguish” is good translation, but it’s mostly about being manly and gruff in your clothing rather than prissy and dandy.
What does bankara Ivy mean in practice? According to Free & Easy, it means wearing a fun shirt and madras cap with patched chinos and paint-splattered wingtips:
Or a checked shirt, madras tie and collar pin with a hideous jacket:
Or going balls-out with a three-piece patchwork seersucker suit:
Lately I’ve been leaning more towards Chic Ivy myself, but never fear being a sartorial badass. — CC