In Praise of Rogue Ivy

“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

13 Comments on "In Praise of Rogue Ivy"

  1. Nice to see someone else putting “sartorial badass” to good use.

  2. Christian | May 24, 2011 at 2:43 pm |

    I wondered if I should link to you on those words, or if the phrase had entered popular nomenclature (smiley).

    Anyway, you’re getting credit for it in the next issue of The Rake.

  3. Wow. Those are some hideous clothes.

    The first one says, “Young dads’ BD summer style.” The second one is, “Mr. Hardworker’s denim jacket style.” The last one speaks for itself.

    I guess another translation for bankara might be “dressing like a preppified dork.”

  4. Ultra Trad | May 24, 2011 at 7:46 pm |

    “Ban” (barbarian) sums it up nicely.

  5. scottbaioisdead | May 25, 2011 at 2:20 am |

    bankara 蛮襟 refers to the rough appearance of hoodlums at schools who normally wear loud geta called ashida geta meaning high geta, now referred to as bankara geta, i’ve never heard of this type of “style” before, seems to me like people who don’t know much about japan are pulling things out of their asses, as usual when it comes to japan. nowhere in either photo does the word bankara appear

  6. Is a Starbucks paper cup mandatory? What a rebel the man in denim jacket is!

  7. Christian | May 25, 2011 at 8:55 am |

    He added brandy from a needlepoint Smathers & Branson flask.

  8. I’d actually wear that last patchwork seersucker suit, at least to a balls-out 4th of july party

  9. Drew Poling | May 25, 2011 at 10:04 am |

    @scottbaioisdead :

    As Christian wrote in the opening sentence of the post, the pictures come from the May issue of Free and Easy magazine. F&E is written by Japanese people in Japanese and published in Japan. I think it’s safe to assume, therefore, that the people who create the magazine know a thing or two about Japan.

    Also, the term “Bankara Ivy” does appear in the first of the four pictures (your use of the word “either” suggests there are only two pictures) and throughout the feature in the magazine.

    So cool your jets, Mr. Hai Dudgeon.

  10. Woofboxer | May 25, 2011 at 12:44 pm |

    They just look like charicatures. Why does anyone want to wear clothes that look as though they are worn out? This stuff is not far removed from factory-ripped jeans and those terrible fashion garments with hems that are deliberately made to look as though they are frayed. This is a crap way of dressing.

  11. I suggest who would like to understand better the philosophy of Mr. Onozato, editor in chief of the F&E magazine, owner of the “Rugged Museum Shop” in Tokyo and collector of some of the most rare vintage clothing, watches (some of his Rolex are the most rare) in the world, friend of icons of style like Mr. Lauren (that actually in the June issue write a thankful note to F&E, in person) to read his book “my 211”, or subscribe to the F&E magazine, that I think is not so difficult to find in USA too

    Actually some picture worth more than thousands of words:

    I think that comment only the three pics above posted by Christian, without to know well and deeply what’s there in the back of the 35 years of work in the fashion world of Mr. Onozato, is a little bit wrong.

    I think knowledge and information is essentials before to write comments in a blog.

    Sorry for my bad english.

    Have a nice day,

    Cris form Italy

  12. @Woof – Agreed. I like things with character, and I am thrifty enough that I wear clothing long after it has developed a little noticeable wear, but some of this is just silly. If you’re going to wear wingtips with paint on them, why not just wear some sneakers? More comfortable, and you’re clearly not needing to impress anyone.

  13. It’s nice how few of you think that the project of Japanese Bankara Ivy launched by F&E is made for “impress”!
    It’s clear that you have not enough study Japanese culture, both in fashion and in how to communicate a “message”.

    By the way, is so sad to see how some people do not try to go little bit over the institutional and stated things.
    If you check the “Official preppy Book” By Lisa Birnbach (that actually I own, signed by Mrs. Lisa in person) you will be surprised to see how many dirty, rugged, fringe and worn out items are highly recommended for a perfect Prep/Ivy style.

    What the F&E staff try to make (and for me they make it great) is to bring the past, institutional items and see them with new vision, modernized and tailored for the very skilled and informed Japanese customers (and not only: as I’m a fashion designer I see often my “colleagues” that literally stole pictures or buy clothes in the Rugged Museum Shop to copy for Europe and and USA brands!)

    About Japanese I think, they can teach, to everybody us, how to dress Ivy.


    ps: Sneakers? Go on with the may issue and you will fin lot of Sneakers in the magazine. I still think is not wised to judge a style philosophy only by one picture, by the way, the Ivy movement of Tokyo worn Converse High White (of course) from the sixty:

    Definitely, I think some research must be made by who stigmatize the F&E work for introducing The Bankara Ivy!

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