Ivy Trendwatch: The Japanese Are Coming

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

9 Comments on "Ivy Trendwatch: The Japanese Are Coming"

  1. Grey Flannels | December 12, 2018 at 11:24 pm |

    Footnotes, spin-offs, and updates to W. David Marx’s book “Ametora: How Japan Saved American Style.”:

  2. In the mid 80s I purchased a suit that was made in Japan by an American designer
    Here is a posting in Style Forum from last year that describes it:

    “But, I would want some texture, like a subtle herringbone. I have such a suit
    in storage in the garage, no longer fits. From Leo Pozzi (circa 1985) –
    natural shoulders, 2 button with side vents. More or less this style
    in navy:


  3. We only hear about it when they make it better. Otherwise there are zillions of inventions where we continue to dominate.

  4. The Japanese/ Far Eastern take on Ivy has always seemed a bit of a pastiche to me. I’m not American so no horse in this race.

  5. Old School Tie | December 13, 2018 at 6:52 am |

    Personally, I (and plenty of other Brits like me) have always tried to sniff out stuff made in the USA, from 501s to penny loafers. Just seemed the authentic thing to do. Continental style sometimes turns my head but ultimately it is just not for me. Everything is too small and petite for starters. Ditto Japanese stuff, which is basically the bonsai version of clothing. Yes, they look cool and twee, however, I still prefer real trees.

  6. What competent tailor in Asia couldn’t copy or replicate an Ivy suit? During the US occupation of Japan my father replaced a worn BB suit. The Japanese tailor deconstructed the suit, made patterns and made a new suit. My father continued this practice till he retired from the Air Force in the mid 60s. I imagine that first suit cost him three or four cartons of cigarettes.

  7. I read the book by Marx (the fashionable Marx) but I won’t recall seeing a list of Ivy stores in Japan. I’m in Tokyo at the moment. Does anyone have any suggestions? Tailor CAID is the only one I can think of.

  8. The gentleman in the photo looks perfectly prep/trad, however, the vest seems, somewhat out of place. Material? quilted, insulated? Thoughts?

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