I am pretty sure that you have seen these satin Japanese bomber jackets in your life but I am not sure that you know about their history and why they are so typical, especially in Japan.
The Japan’s souvenir jacket, also called sukajan, is an embroidered satin college or letterman jacket usually in satin, representing typical Japanese landscapes or symbols. I didn’t know that their story starts in the late 30s and that it is strictly connected to an American “tradition” in Japan. I learned about it when I was in Tokyo, in a beautiful vintage shop called Chicago, selling many of these items and I asked the shop assistant to tell me more about them.
She told me that they originates from the city of Yokosuka that has a very long and important military history for Japan and for the United States, especially after the second world war. In fact these jackets started to be produced in the 30s and became very famous during the post-war period, when departing American soldiers bought them as souvenir of the time they spent in Japan. “The original sukajan were often bomber jackets, coats, or even jackets fashioned from old parachute material, with embroidered patches featuring Japanese animals, patterns, or writing. Each jacket was typically hand-stitched — which meant that no two jackets were alike” (source: Japan Today)
You can find original ones in every vintage shop of Tokyo but also all over the world, especially in the States. I even bought a vintage one that I adore when I was in Tokyo at Chicago Vintage (they had so many!).
Today many local shops and designers re-created them with original and modern patterns, like this one that I also got in Tokyo (it’s a longer story because it was my colleagues birthday surprise present!) with a lovely Betty Boop in a perfect Japanese style, wearing a kimono outside a temple with cherry blooms!
I am totally in love with these two jackets and it is also for me a way to remember my beautiful trip in this amazing country!
Here I am wearing my Betty Boop modern souvenir jacket by Cropped Heads with a vintage inspired tee from Joanie Clothing and handmade denim Marlene trousers from Madame Ilary.
You can find pictures of my original vintage Japanese sukajan here when I was Bucharest!