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Vintage Clothing Trends

Jackets: Letterman & Varsity.

A Letterman is a student (male or female) who has achieved a measured level of performance on a varsity team.  Varsity Jackets are awarded with 'Letters' displaying the level of athletic ability and success.  Letterman jackets are a symbol of endurance, talent, dedication and discipline.   They're also works of art.  

Traditional designs including school mascots and heavy embroidery are highly collectible both for their historical and aesthetic appeal.  This example circa mid 70's, from Paola, Kansas, is fantastic - the panther patch and color scheme is strong and the cream leather sleeves are a perfect contrast.   This is a wonderful jacket that wasn't just bought somewhere, someone earned this piece and was proud to wear it.  

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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. Continue reading


A reversible, silk Sukajan with double Sky Dragon & Tiger embroidery. (From the TCW Collection)
The Sukajan jacket is not a simple souvenir. Born from American G.I.’s bringing them back home as gifts, the Sukajan morphed into a symbol of post World War II Japanese youth rebellion and has become a modern fashion icon. The term “Sukajan” has loose origins but we can narrow it down to something meaning close to ‘Sky Dragon Jumper’ - or just ‘jumper’ - a reference to wartime parachute servicemen. The jackets are defined by their materials and style: Silk, embroidery and cut like a baseball uniform jacket. They’re bold. They’re bad. They say something. Originally designed for American export, these have since interestingly been co-accepted by the Japanese market. The 1960’s Japanese market initially associated the Sukajan with cultural rebellion, juvenile delinquency and gangs. This attitude has since faded as new conflicts diluted the market - the Korean War and Vietnam - with new designs and slogans changing the way the jackets were received. Sukajans have been worn by everyone - Mick Jagger likes to wear them when touring. Ryan Gosling wore one in the film Drive (2011). Kurt Russell wore a Sukajan variation as Stuntman Mike in Grindhouse (2007). Sukajan should be carefully chosen - especially vintage pieces. Many of these were designed with intention to convey a message of sacrifice and experiences of war. Continue reading
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