cover image Ametora: How Japan Saved American Style

Ametora: How Japan Saved American Style

W. David Marx. Basic, $26.99 (296p) ISBN 978-0-465-05973-7

In this wholly intriguing study of the American influence on menswear in Japan, cultural critic Marx carves out a lucid example of the cyclical interplay between cultural identity and globalization by mapping Japan’s rise to prominence in the fashion the world, beginning with the appropriation of American trends after WWII. Japan’s first obsession with American style was called, simply, Ivy (aibii). The term referred to the Ivy League, specifically the style of students walking across the Princeton University campus in 1959, when intrepid Japanese fashion entrepreneur Kensuke Ishizu decided to visit the campus for inspiration. Ishizu was the first of many magazine editors, designers, store owners, and trend setters who would define Japanese style over the next few decades by appropriating—and redefining—iconic American style (as well as archiving it). “The story of Japan’s embrace, reappropriation, and exploration of American style thus stands as a highly illustrative episode of how culture globalizes,” the author writes, nearly understating the significance of his project. The book’s tales of scrappy entrepreneurs combine to make an important contribution to readers’ understanding of cultural authenticity, the use of branding in media to sell consumer goods, and how representations of masculinity and rebellion evolve in the consumer marketplace. B&w photos. (Dec.)