Accidental Icon: Details Re(imagining)

The jacket I am wearing is a modern take by the designer Phillip Lim, on what is known as a “souvenir” jacket or Sukajan in modern Japanese. The name was coined in post-war Japan when the occupying forces took pieces of clothing to Japanese tailors to get traditional Japanese designs hand stitched on the back as a way to commemorate their time in Japan. Mostly done on bomber and varsity jackets, the designs featured intricate embroidery that mixed both Eastern and Western themes. Cherry blossoms, geishas, tigers, dragons and trees were placed alongside maps and military iconography.  The jackets would often incorporate rayon and silk and were sometimes made from excess silk salvaged from parachutes. Japanese craftsman started to design their own pieces creating reversible options, one side being less colorful and extravagant than the other and included velvets, silks and more intricate and colorful embroidery. New conflicts in Korea and Vietnam saw the style later extend outside of just Japan.

Relevant to the nostalgia that inspired my post, the jacket also has a sub-culture history that emerged in the 1960’s in Japan. Many Japanese youth at this time loved the American preppy look and were wearing jeans and oxford shirts. Those who did not want to conform to this Americana style started to wear Sukajan as an act of defiance and although originally for an American audience, the jacket became co-opted as a sign of Japanese youth rebellion. As the popularity of the jacket spread outside of Japan it became adopted as a sign of counterculture and was worn by pop culture icons such as Mick Jagger.

Currently, as evidenced by my jacket, the Sukajan is being re-interpreted by many high fashion (Valentino, Gucci, Louis Vuitton) and streetwear brands (Supreme). Regardless of the fabric used, the intricate embroidery is what makes the piece stand out. In terms of my taste and color palette, I think Phillip Lim does it best. Making it sheer organza was genius.

For more old and new Sukajan looks see my Pinterest board: Accidental Icon Loves Sukajan Bombers

Accidental Icon Wears:

Embroidered Organza Bomber: 3.1 Phillip Lim, Boyfriend Jeans: Frame Denim, White Shirt: Dries Van Noten, Earrings: Robert Lee Morris, Sunglasses: Ferragamo, Cross Body Bag: Issey Miyake, Boots: Vagabond

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

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