The idea of the obsessional Japanese clothing male to Americana is a story that cannot be possibly fathomed without the insight and passion of one man, Kensuke Ishizu. In the late 1950’sIshizu was the first clothier to realise the impact of the upcoming youth explosion that the post WW2 west was currently experiencing. Japan had yet to grasp onto the mass explosion of the baby boom and was still ultra conservative and had little time nor affection for mens fashion. The presence of the stationed American G.I’s first gave kensuke a taste of U.S fashion and lifestyle particularly the stories of Ivy League colleges and clothing. After cultivating his experience through various posts at high end male clothing manufacturers, Ishizu came across the notion that the youth of Tokyo needed a separate identity to their peers. Around this time he began looking in detail at the American collegiate style that was sweeping across the States and began to try and interrogate his own interpretation of the Ivy look. And so, Van Jac was created to cater for this new emerging market.
In late ‘58 Van Jacket began to produce authentic East Coast college wear that was made to work in perfect harmony with each item. Its ethos was bring a smart yet casual Atlantic appearance to the streets of Japan. At first the look was demonised as anti traditional and was labeled at the time an aggressive force that corrupted the young. For example, Van was the first manufacturer to market the T-Shirt as a piece of fashion wear, where as before it had been seen as merely an undergarment and as such caused a minor panic to break with traditional form. Over time as perceptions changed the look became an accepted and stylish form of youth dress that soon filtered into the adult world.
Van Jacket is still producing Ivy and American influenced clothing to this day and regularly updates and reinterprets its design for the 21st Century. Although not all design and ideals are to everyone’s taste its lasting legacy is that it was fundamental in bringing Western clothing consumerism to the Far East and such created a long love affair with American style.