During my first two of years of college, I worked part-time as an English as a Second Language tutor to immigrants and exchange students. One guy on my roster was a slightly cocky fellow from Japan who preferred we conduct our lessons in the student union over the billiard table, which I was more than happy to oblige as I could always blame it on him if threatened with being fired.
I’ll never forget one conversation, during which he opined, “Americans invent something and then Japanese make it better.” I was only about twenty and didn’t know much at the time — though I did know a bit of billiards — but for some reason I didn’t like the way that sounded, patriotic pride and all that.
Once again we get a chance to find out if it’s true, as the popular website Fashion Beans reported yesterday that one of the menswear trends for 2019 is ametora, which is Japanese for “American traditional.” Yes, apparently our own version of our native style may not quite be good enough — or at least current enough — and so we need the Japanese to sell it back to us. Quotes the article:
“Ametora” is the Japanese contraction of ‘American Traditional’. Initially, it meant the Ivy League style that Japanese teenagers co-opted in the 1960s, but now includes all the classic Americana that was first copied in Japan, then improved, then perfected. With Hawaiian shirts trending last summer, this is an evolution of that mid-century aesthetic, being referenced in spring next year by high street labels.
Then again, a few weeks ago I heard W. David Marx lecture on this very topic at The Armoury, so maybe there’s something to it after all. — CC