Tokyo Street Fashion Decked Out in American Brands

Do you fly Delta? If so, I recommend reading their SKY magazine; I always learn something from it. It’s published monthly, and in addition to getting ideas for your next big trip, you can also practice reading Spanish!

September’s issue was entitled “The World of Fashion” and there is one article in particular that I’d like to share.

“Some of America’s oldest and most revered apparel and footwear brands—from Allen Edmonds to Red Wing Shoes, Pendleton Woolen Mills and Woolrich—are becoming highly sought after, identity-defining style icons overseas.”

Photo: Delta SKY magazine “Channeling Style” by Adam Minter September 2013

By overseas, they mean, Japan. Fifty percent of Woolrich Woolen Mills’ global sales are based in Japan. (The other half is evenly split between the U.S. and Europe.) Apparently, the country’s hipsters are a major market for the brand. Actually, the more correct term is “wabi-sabi.”

Have you heard of this? You probably have, but do you know what it means? It means beauty in imperfection. If my grandfather saw the below pictures, he would have called it “shullabub.” (Which basically means you look like a disheveled mess—not how you want to look when walking out of the house.)

Ex: (My Italian grandfather: “Hey! You look like shullabub! Go change!” vs. One Japanese hipster to another: “Hey! Cool [vintaged leather cracked] boots! Wabi-sabi.”)

Tokyo Street Fashion wabi-sabi

The article went on to explain that the wabi-sabi concept started drawing the Japanese fashion-conscious towards American thrift shops in the ’70s. It talked about how one way to make money in the ’90s was to go to the Midwest, scour the thrift stores and buy up all the old pairs of Levi’s, haul them back to Tokyo and sell them for crazy expensive like $120 a pair.

Aside from the perfect, imperfect wabi-sabi look, there’s another reason our American heritage brands are booming in Asia; the goods are American made. I found this logic to be particularly interesting: American labor is expensive, so the mindset is that it must be of high quality. When you live in a crowded city, you show your wealth, not in your home or car (that you don’t have), but in your clothes, shoes…bar tab. Therefore, strutting around in American made boots and a vintage LEE coat, indicates that you are successful AND have a style personality.


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One Response to Tokyo Street Fashion Decked Out in American Brands

  1. Stella says:

    The girls look cute and wabi-sabi! The guys? I agree with grandpa! Shullabub!

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