Ivy in Japan: A Regalia of Non-Conformity and Privilege

Yale University Press
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Ivy Style: Radical Conformists, 2012, 1, pp. 175 - 185
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The history of Japanese 'Ivy style' is said to have begun with Kensuke Ishizu who was the 'architect' of Take Ivy, and a kind of Japanese version of Ralph Lauren. He founded the Ivy League-inspired clothing brand company VAN JACKET in 1951. Until the 1990s, the styles that resemble the 'Ivy-league style' made an almost continual appearance in Japan. The 'Ivy style', and similar styles with names such as 'school', 'preppy' and 'trad', are popular today, particularly for those who appreciate the neat and conservative styles (kireime) and high-casual styles. This modern day revival of the 'Ivy style' was particularly marked since 2007 where the aesthetics of the 'Ivy style' were blended with other styles and engendered a number of similar styles with a subtle nuance. The Japanese version of the 'Ivy-league' style is a good example of a global crossing. A cultural form is accepted in a different cultural context, blended with 'local' characteristics, and then flows out again in multiple directions. Indeed, what is striking about the Japanese embracing of the 'Ivy style' is not only its 'preservation' of the style when such styles were perceived as démodé in the United States, but also its demonstration of subtly nuanced changes and transformations. Japanese adaption and appropriation of the 'Ivy-league' style, I argue, tells a cultural process where an 'American' clothing styles are blended with 'Japanese' aesthetic ideals and preferences. This cultural mélange has in turn been re-imported to the United States, making new meanings and new markets for this now perennial style.
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