An excerpt from forthcoming Spring 2020 FM/AM Magazine article.
The Japanese vintage market has been strong for over 40 years. It is no secret that the Japanese adore American vintage clothing and are willing to go great lengths to source the absolute best pieces. American traditional style, from Champion Reverse Weave sweats to Levis denim, evolved out of necessity. Home spun fibers and natural materials sewn together to be durable and made to last used to be a normal thing. Kids went shopping at the beginning of the school year with the mindset to make whatever they were lucky enough to receive last the entire year. That’s a lot of baseball games, school dances, 4-H contests, after school jobs, sporting events and weekend fun. These clothes had to make it through all of that. Same for adults – a quality chore jacket and a keen wool sweater both had to make it through more than one season. Clothing, after all, was expensive.
For this conversation you can lump those generations – the 1940s, 50s, 60s, 70s into one group. This was the manufacturing peak of what is considered ‘American Traditional style.’ The best denim was made then. They best suits. The coolest Converse sneakers. The best leather jackets. It was all good. And the post WWII Japanese took notice.
Quality is what is most important when seeking vintage clothing. Hold a 1960’s Levi’s BIG E jacket and then hold one made today – they’re different. Really different. A culture that respects materials and has senses of place will naturally find the beauty in a well made garment. Intrinsic wabi-wabi qualities like a perfectly sharpened crease, gently worn button holes, and the value of a sun faded sweatshirt are key components to the Japanese vintage collector. However, there are some who value pristine, untouched vintage in high regard…..
The Article will be published in full next year.