What The Hell’s A Souvenir Jacket?
Also known as a Sukajan, the souvenir jacket dates back to the post-WWII years when American soldiers stationed in Japan commissioned these ornate, hand-made jackets as a souvenir (hence the name) of their time stationed abroad. Key design factors include a mixture of Western and Eastern iconography; American eagles and military symbols nestle alongside traditional Japanese imagery like tigers and cherry blossoms. The jackets remained a trend amongst soldiers throughout the 20th century, thanks to the US’ campaigns in Vietnam and Korea. Which is why many jackets sport slogans like “When I Die I’m Going To Heaven Because I’ve Served My Time In Hell”. Although that kind of motto isn’t so good a look on an accountant from Milton Keynes.
So I Should Check Vintage Shops?
Since these were bespoke commissions, they’re unique, highly personal and much rarer than the beaten up Levi’s truckers you find in every second-hand shop. So finding an original isn’t really on the cards. But since they’ve been mimicked ever since – by, among others, street gangs who adopted the look in the 1960s – you’ll find it easier to pick up an homage. Although be prepared to pay for it. Every decade has had a souvenir jacket trend of one kind or another, so if authenticity is your thing there are ‘real’ jackets out there. They just might not date to the 1950s.
I Haven’t Got Time To Search. Where Can I Buy A New One?
There are a few designers who have been championing a modern take on this trend. Louis Vuitton has some of the finest around, as does
And How Exactly Do I Pull One Off?
Souvenir jackets are, by very definition ornate, colourful and garish. If yours isn’t, it’s not a souvenir jacket. So even if you’re forking out big bucks for high-end designer clothes they still need to be styled correctly to work in harmony with your existing wardrobe. That said, there’s no need to be scared – not everything has to be monochromatic to look stylish. If your jacket is brightly coloured then try a crisp plain white tee underneath, some dark indigo jeans and plain white trainers, to let the jacket shine and curb any risk of clashing. For darker shades you can be a bit more experimental: a plain sweat or button-down shirt, paired with some casual trousers and Chelsea boots. For an authentic slant on the look opt for a classic preppy American vibe, run through a Japanese filter: chinos, neckerchief and penny loafers will show you know exactly what a Sukajan is all about.