Isabella Biedenharn
December 17, 2015 AT 05:57 PM EST

Ametora: How Japan Saved American Style

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
W. David Marx
publisher
Basic Books
genre
Nonfiction

We gave it an A-

Japan’s exalted status in the fashion department seems like a given now—even non-sartorially inclined folks likely know Japanese brands like Comme des Garçons and Uniqlo or could recognize the trendy look of the Harajuku neighborhood. But perhaps less well-known is the fascinating decades-long dialogue between American and Japanese men’s fashion that Marx skillfully explores here. He expounds on everything from the Japanese menswear industry’s single-person origin (a stylish and eccentric man named Kensuke Ishizu) to the prostitutes who introduced black-market shoppers to perfectly worn-in Levi’s (gifts from American GIs) to the explosive success of hip-hop-inspired Japanese streetwear brands such as Bape. It’s riveting to follow as men swap their austere student uniforms from Japan’s imperialist days for chicer garb, no longer ashamed to care about style. A–

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