In Praise of Rogue Ivy

Earlier this week, in the wake of coronavirus, I suggested that the current Ivy trend should shift towards what the Japanese call rugged Ivy. But they have another similar and creative twist on Ivy, called bankara, which was celebrated on the cover of Free & Easy magazine in May of 2011, when this post originally ran.

What in the world is bankara Ivy? Japanese Ivy expert W. David Marx tells us:

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.

Now what does bankara Ivy actually look like in practice? According to Free & Easy, it consists of 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 rather hideous jacket:

Or going balls-out with a three-piece patchwork seersucker suit:

Not terribly rogueish, but add a quarantine beard and long hair and you get the idea.

Long live Ivy. — CC

22 Comments on "In Praise of Rogue Ivy"

  1. 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.”

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

    “Ban” (barbarian) sums it up nicely.

  3. 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

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

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

    He added brandy from a needlepoint Smathers & Branson flask.

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

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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

  10. @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.

  11. 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!

  12. Looks like the new arrivals section from Ralph

    Nothing is really “new” in menswear anymore. Everything is just recycled from year to year.

  13. MacMcConnell | April 4, 2020 at 2:05 pm |

    Speaking of Ralph Lauren, he did a denim tailored men’s two piece suit in the 1970s. He did light weight denim pleated tailored trouser in the 1970s also. I owned a pair, they looked good with heavy tweed jacket and dirty bucks IMO. Hell I’d buy that denim sport coat at a garage sale.

  14. Was out for a wonderful bike ride. They haven’t locked me in yet. Kyo no tenki ga subarashii!

    @SakuSuto-san: anmari omoshiroku nai n dayo.

  15. Old Bostonian | April 5, 2020 at 1:07 am |

    Gentlemen, if the aim is rebellion, might I suggest:
    White broadcloth BD collar shirts instead of blue oxford cloth BD collar shirts
    No cuffs on chinos
    Only navy neckties: knit or grenadine
    Polos: only navy or white
    Nothing in GTH or Crayola colors.
    A far more subtle form of rebellion, I daresay.

  16. I like the seersucker suit. It’s perfect for wearing to the club on Friday. Or on Memorial Day. Or on the 4th of July. Maybe even to the party to commemorate the conversion of the golf course to cross-country skiing. Or to any barbecue where your wife is the designated driver. Unfortunately, I already have too many Friday suits and can’t really justify another. 🙁

  17. MacMcConnell | April 6, 2020 at 12:49 pm |

    Over Easy
    “though a three-piece seersucker suit seems to go against the whole point of a seersucker suit.”

    In 1975 I got married wearing one.

  18. MacMcConnell | April 6, 2020 at 12:55 pm |


    Thanks for the RL link. I’m tempted, but I doubt I’ll wear out much of what I have before I die. 😉

  19. Charlottesville | April 6, 2020 at 1:34 pm |

    MacMcConnell and Over Easy – I also have a 3-piece seersucker suit, although I rarely wear the vest. It does seem a bit counter-intuitive, but then again there’s this: .

  20. Charlottesville | April 6, 2020 at 5:06 pm |

    Over Easy – I agree. Just noting the precedent. It looks kind of nice though, as long as the a/c is working. If I recall, Atticus had to ask the court’s permission to remove his coat in that 1930s Mississippi summer, so it is definitely not an outfit for the heat.

  21. Midwestern Madras | April 11, 2020 at 9:48 pm |

    Old Bostonian, my good man, “no cuffs on chinos” is going too far. Civilization is tottering as it is.

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