Amekaji: A Marriage of American Tradition and Japanese Style

“Amekaji” is the term used to describe American casual style, specifically “Ametora” refers to the American Traditional fashion style in Japan.



Decades after the war, many of these items like denim jeans, found its way to marketplaces frequented by Japanese Youth who were influenced by American style through Western Movies and exposure to the collegiate Ivy League style in the late 1950s and 60s.


Eventually, local brands that focused on recreating “Aibii” or “Ivy” style clothing came into being like Kensuke Ishizu’s institutional label -- V.A.N. Jacket  founded in 1951. According to W. David Marx, author of the book “Ametora: How Japan Saved American Style”-- Japanese youth looked towards resource material like the legendary photo documentary book “Take Ivy” and local men’s lifestyle magazines like “Men’s Club” and “Popeye” that analysed, catalogued and explained American style to its readers.

Enthusiasts of American style like The Real McCoy’s founder Hitoshi Tsujimoto in his early days, even traveled to the United States with empty suitcases to fill them up with old American clothing from denim jeans and military jackets to Oxford button down shirts and American University sweaters to sell in their own vintage stores. Old garments were never simply disposed of-- most of them archived, studied and replicated. 


The first entirely Japanese denim brand was created in the early 1970s to match the local demand of American denim that was harder to come by. In the 1980s, just as selvedge denim was becoming obsolete in the United States, five Kansai based brands known collectively as the “Osaka Five” were getting into it. Founders of those brands, like the Shiotani brothers of Warehouse, Mikiharu Tsujita of Full Count and Yoshiyuki Hayashi of Denime-- later on Resolute, among others, amassed collections and devoted their attention and time to create denim as close as possible to the original fabrics and patterns they collected from the 1800s to 1960s -- from the way they were made to the way the fabric broke down and aged.

This marriage of Japanese culture and American style conceived a new generation of Japanese youth that wanted to dress up in traditional American clothing, but wore it the way they saw fit. When American university students would wear their clothes baggy, the Japanese had them tailor fitted and as the West looked towards more slim fitting casual wear, Japan wore them loose and relaxed.