I distinctly remember the last "trend" to hit youth culture in the UK. If I'm not mistaken, ignoring the recent uprising of the 80s shell jackets, I think the last huge trend was army jackets and creepers. I definitely remember a time when every thirteen or fourteen year old girl would be wearing one of these camoflage print jackets, with single-sole creepers or double for the more daring. I of course bought into the whole trend...having recently discovered vintage clothing at age fourteen, I bought myself an army jacket as a sort of milestone piece, to mark my transition into a new stage of my clothing. I wore it repeatedly until the jackets became so popular that they became boring; going out meant inevitably wearing an identical outfit to at least three other people. They soon dropped off the style-radar completely as they became associated with the whole idea of 'hipsters' and subsequently became uncool as they were no longer something unusual or coveted.
We haven't really had a trend like it in the UK since; I remember dusty pink coats had a season, but other than that trends have been spotted here and there but never progressed fully to the mainstream, world-scale that something like army jackets did. I do, however, think a new one is coming...and that, of course, is the Sukajan.
If you are unfamilar (which I doubt you will be; they have been cropping up everywhere from the Tokyo streets to Topshop spring/summer) a Sukajan is a Japanese souvenir jacket. They trace back to World War Two, when soldiers stationed in Asia wanted to take home a sort of souvenir to remember the time they served and where they stayed. The jackets have remained fairly popular ever since, experiencing a sort of 5-to-7 year cycle of popularity. Recently they have become seriously huge, with most large designers (such as Louis Vuitton, R Shemiste) creating their own, high-end versions, and vintage designs becoming increasingly sought after and probably, if they haven't already, skyrocketing in price. In the UK, Sukajans are surprisingly hard to find - you might be lucky and stumble across one in a vintage or charity shop somewhere (you would have to be super lucky), or occasionally larger brands such as Topshop or Asos have created some, but to get the real deal is a lot harder. I managed to find mine from Japan Zone, which meant ordering it directly from Japan, as they are so hard to find over here! The service was great though and the shipping didn't take as long as I had expected. I am still on the hunt for a more original vintage one though - the one I have is lovely but quite modern, so I'd love to try and hunt for a more unusual one too.
(Wearing a cropped jumper and wide leg pants from Beyond Retro, shoes from Monki, bag from The Whitepepper)
I realised how much I wanted one after R Shemiste incorporated them so beautifully into their Spring/Summer 2016 and Fall/Winter 2016 collections. They took a quite historic and fairly traditional streetwear item and managed to update it to fit modern themes, combining them with their statement high-waisted pants and ring studded baseball caps. Although casual in shape, the looks had a distinctly sharp edge and I couldn't help but dream of trying to make my own outfits just as sleek.
The best part was, after being quite well known for their Sukajans, R Shemiste somehow managed to completely update them and create a whole new level of souvenir jacket style in their Fall/Winter collection. Playing with asymmetry and contrasts, clever tailoring and structuring allowed half a sukajan jacket to be combined and blended into another piece, creating this unbalanced, interesting garment that was half jacket and half dress. I loved this idea of taking something and completely subverting it's known use; deconstructing the known and the popular, questioning what it really is and what it really means. I think R Shemiste do this a lot with their pieces; mixing style with street and smart with casual allows them to question the viewer - what actually is style anyway? Where are the limits? What are the limits of streetwear? Considering how they played with length, distressing, asymmetry and deconstruction this season, I am incredibly excited to see what they do next, and doubt we will see a change in their level of innovation any time soon.
I hope you are having a good week - it's been crazy over here with manic photography shoots (I seem to suddenly be taking a lot more serious photos of people at the moment. I'm really enjoying it) and schoolwork, which is taking over my life in the lead up to exam season. I will be back with longer posts asap!