It’s no secret that the Japanese held, and continue to hold, the throne in terms of style. Their widespread dedication to clothing as a medium for personal representation is an art form that many around the globe, including myself, have grown to admire and envy. However, the average style connoisseur appreciates Japanese aesthetic strictly based on presentation and design, without a true understanding of where this part of their style originated.
‘Ametora: How Japan Saved American Style’, written by W. David Marx, is the quintessential guide on Japanese style culture. Marx tells the story of how Japanese designers appropriated quintessential American garment designs, which, in turn have created a deep connection between Japanese and American style. The Japanese take on ‘Americano’, ‘workwear’, and streetwear style has recently come full circle. An increasing amount of people in the United States are becoming attracted to this area of fashion, especially with the plethora of opportunities to obtain these pieces through Instagram-marketed proxies and vintage consignments. That being said, only a select few invest the time to learn about the background and incorporate it into their lifestyle.
My friends, James H. Baker and Macy Uczen, are examples of the 360 degree cycle of style that has found its way back to the West. Residing in Brooklyn, NY, the two are enthusiasts of new age staple brands like Kapital and Visvim, which claim a consistent residency in their wardrobes. Baker and Uczen own various vintage garments and collectibles, limited to not only Japanese and American culture, but also pieces that date back all the way to the 1930’s, some of which they have managed to identify the original owners. From 1960’s Beaver Brand Canoe oars, to Vintage Navajo Saddle Blankets, the couple created a living space that conveys their genuine passion for creations of the past, and showcases their dedication to acting as living representations of our origins. Beyond that, James works in the Brooklyn-based gem-filled vintage shop, Raggedy Threads, and the two plan to open their own store in North Carolina called SummerCamp Trading Post, in 2018.
I could go on for days about the articles of clothing and keepsakes that James and Macy have amassed, but that’s beside the point. These two represent a new breed that started with Japan’s history, style, and culture, but have slowly morphed their passion into an overall hunger for learning that’s rare to see these days. It has always been evident that most people use brands and particular articles of clothing to express themselves, but it is even more common that these same people lack the knowledge and context behind those same pieces. For those that brought this perspective to the United States, took the time to understand the importance of history, and refused to become sheep, we pay homage to those unsung heroes and pioneers.
T-shirt: Visvim; Jacket: 1940s FFA Corduroy Jacket; Pants: Kapital; Shoes: Converse.
Necklace: Vintage Santo Domingo Battery Bird; Hat: Kapital; Top: Vintage Indian Motorcycles Jersey; Pants: Kapital; Boots: RM Williams.
Bandana: Kapital Santo Domingo; Sweater: Kapital; Necklace: Vintage Santo Domingo Battery Bird.
Jacket: Kapital; Flannel: Kapital; T-shirt: Kapital; Jeans: Vintage Levi’s Big E; Shoes: Vintage Boots.
Jacket: Kapital; Shirt: Kapital.
Assorted Native American Beads and Jewelry.
White Farm Table (1950s); Ohio Felt Pennant (1930s); WWII Canvas Trench Art Bag; Beaver Brand & Indian Head Canoe Oar (1940s) Loom Shuttle; Primitive Wooden Carvings (Origin Unknown).
Coffee Table (1946 Harvard Shipping Crate); Japanese Wood Carving (Rhino) (1970s); Incensio de Santa Fe Incense Burners.
Repurposed Locker (1950s); Vintage Gulf Motor Oil Can; Donald Duck Repro. (Japan) (1980s).
Vintage Hand Painted Kokopeli Vase (Southwestern); Kokopeli Jar; Japanese Ceramics (Mid-Century); 10 Year Macallan Scotch.