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Ametora: How Japan Saved American Style

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4.28  ·  Rating details ·  415 ratings  ·  46 reviews
Look closely at any typically “American” article of clothing these days, and you may be surprised to see a Japanese label inside. From high-end denim to oxford button-downs, Japanese designers have taken the classic American look—known as ametora, or “American traditional”—and turned it into a huge business for companies like Uniqlo, Kamakura Shirts, Evisu, and Kapital. ...more
Hardcover, 296 pages
Published December 1st 2015 by Basic Books
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Ametora by W. David MarxTake Ivy by Shosuke IshizuThe Men's Fashion Reader by Peter McNeilMen's File by Nick  ClementsHarley-Davidson Book of Fashions by Rin Tanaka
Men's Fashion
10 books — 4 voters
Take Ivy by Shosuke IshizuAmetora by W. David Marx
Menswear
2 books — 1 voter


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Community Reviews

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Mir
May 15, 2018 added it
Japanese teenagers spend an inordinate amount of time, effort, money, and energy in pursuit of fashionable clothing, especially when compared to their global peers. America, with a population 2.5 times larger than Japan, has fewer than ten magazines focusing on men's style. Japan has more than 50.
...
This is not a book, however, about the intricacies of clothing patterns or design concepts. Our story follows the individuals responsible for introducing American clothing to Japan, as well as the
...more
Josie
Dec 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Honestly? This was THE best book I've read all year. Which is just as well, because 2016 is now almost over and I have just managed to hit my target reads for the year.

Ametora: How Japan Saved American Style is a MUST for anyone with any interest in fashion, particularly Japanese fashion. In fact, fashion aficionados of the 21st century now know that you cannot possibly disentangle the geneneralised concept of 'fashion' from 'Japanese fashion', the most vibrant and diverse fashion industry in
...more
Anthony
I read a few books about fashion in 9th grade when I thought that was my thing (Dior's autobiography, Yohji Yamamoto wrote a book, some things about Comme des Garcons etc brands of interest), and I've leafed through a few Japanese mags in my day but this is definitely the best, definitely the meatiest book about fashion I have ever read.

I mean look. I transitioned out of half-hearted otaku's eye view """"Harajuku"""" style to hot mess gay style with """"Harajuku"""" elements to Uniqlo and Muji
...more
John C.
I read this on the heels of Julian Cope's "Japrocksampler," which is another excellent book about post-war Japan's adaptation of a Western form. I found "Ametora" a bit more engaging, perhaps because I'm getting older and menswear is now more interesting to me than obscure Sabbath clones. In any case, this book is absolutely wonderful. The way it contextualizes each wave of Japanese men's fashion within a historical and economic moment makes it a great primer on post-war Japan as well as a ...more
Carter
Dec 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"it ain't about who did it first, it's 'bout who did it right"
Seth Gooding
Apr 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is deeply informative and helps the audience to understand the origins of many popular American fashion trends. The amount of information that is included in this book is astounding. The author does a great job at explaining storylines and introducing influencing aspects that created trends in Japan that were then brought to America. The book describes in depth a wide array of things like photography and cultural events that were important in shaping trends. The topic of fashion ...more
Jeremy Marsh
Apr 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This shit wild.
Alejandro Yee
Aug 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excelllent read for understanding the apporpiation, improvent and exportation of culture between countries and how it affects the culture.
Jeffrey Wu
Jun 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Vivian wang
Shelves: culture-critique
Ametora, written by W. David Marx, is a historically exhaustive survey of cultural flow between Japan and the United States. While seemingly dense for a niche issue and topic, Marx keeps it interesting by centering the book around the story of a few movers and shakers. People like Kensuke Ishizu of VAN Jacket, Nigo from A Bathing Ape, and Masayuki Yamazaki of Pink Dragon dot the fashion landscape as they took what was familiar in American fashion and made something distinct from it.

If culture
...more
Jimmy Djinn
Dec 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Page-turning and packed with information

Ametora's introduction features a quote by William Gibson- fitting, since it was his twitter where I first heard of this book.
Anyone can make a nonfiction book informative, many can make them entertaining- and some deeply thought-provoking. But Marx manages to do all three with his fascinating history of the Japanese obsession with American fashion, from black market blue-jeans to young Americans rediscovering classic collegiate style in the painstakingly
...more
Brandur
Dec 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Ametora is an amazing book that is very informational while managing to stay easy to read and quite succinct. All its stories, from the rise of Ivy style, to the domination of international streetwear with A Bathing Ape, to the obsession and mastery with first finding vintage American denim, and then later with its production, are enthralling. A perfect example on how the history of fashion can be interesting.
Maureen
Dec 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Truly a fascinating read for anyone interested in either fashion, design, or Japanese culture. Well researched and detailed. I enjoyed the chapters on the Take Ivy photography series, as well as the vintage Americana obsession that launched (revived?) Harajuku. Could have done without the streetwear section, as I wasn't convinced of the connection to the rest of the historical arc, which was a weakness. Anyway, very interesting stuff.
Rachel
Jan 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Anyone interested in Japan or fashion will enjoy this book.
Brian
Oct 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm going to do that thing I do--I'm glad I lived in Japan in the later 00s, because I got to see Ura-Harajuku in the post-2000 heyday. I've been to the A Bathing Ape store, wandered through a bunch of the vintage shops, and watched all the people dressed with more style than I had realized was possible.

I didn't buy any clothes, of course. I wasn't nearly as cool then as I am now.

I have some issue with Ametora's subtitle, as most of the book is a history of post-war Japanese fashion. It starts
...more
Max
Jan 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The first word that comes to mind when reflecting on Marx's book is "informative". I've gotten into menswear over the past 2+ years and have absorbed information from blogs, Instagram and the occasional magazine article. I haven't found any detailed non-editorialized background on the origins of particular styles, trends and Japanese designers on the level of this book.

The most enjoyable part of the book, aside from the overall context, is the collection of niche anecdotes related to the people
...more
Charles Heath
Feb 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Saw this in the bibliography of a book about the history of blue jeans. What a wonderful surprise. Marx is a scholar of Japanese fashion history and was lucky enough to meet many of the actors from the post war and document the history of teaching the Japanese consumer about "American traditional" or Ametora. Now it is the Japanese teaching the US about American traditional clothing. Great historical analysis and sources; empathetic; a real treat to come across and to read.
Justin Seok
Apr 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Fascinating book delving into the history of fashion in Japan throughout the years, through the lens of American influence, and the cultural impacts of the different movements, from the classic Ivy style, to Heavy Duty, to the modern streetwear and workwear era, and more. I have had a love for Japanese garments and reading this book has certainly deepened my obsession, but I think that even those not necessarily interested in fashion would take an interest.
Thu Nguyen
Jun 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Super fascinating read if you are at all interested in fashion. Learn how vintage became a thing, where and how raw denim started, and also who the rise of streetwear should really be credited to. It's definitely relevant to today's globalization of trends and you won't be able to stop noticing the back and forth of influence in style after this book.

Ulrich
Aug 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Oddly compelling. You probably have to be a bit of a weird fashion nerd with a style crush on a few Japanese people and he doesn't even mention Mana from Malice Mizer nor Novala Takemoto (of course, very few men follow their fashions!), but if you're a weirdo who actually likes history or men's fashion, this book is full of both!

Jake Bell
Sep 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: asian-studies
This is such a well-written cultural history. While I can't say I know much about anything relating to fashion, Marx's writing kept me interested throughout, and the conclusions that he draws at the end of the book about the interplay between the Japanese and American fashion world is fascinating. Highly Recommend
Marina Klimova
Aug 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very interesting overview of the Japanese early trends in Men's fashion and How America influenced Japan as a whole. It really made me think about how America has influenced fashion all over the world and wonder about the reasons behind American culture being so highly valued in many developed or developing countries.
Claudiu Pascalau
Dec 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Incredible work by David Marx. The book explores the short, yet complex timeline of Japanese fashion - from the Ivy craze to the street style era of the 90’s and the turn of the century. A must read for everyone with an interest in global fashion and specifically, the state of menswear in Japan. Well done!
Jonah Buchanan
Jan 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Succinct yet comprehensive retrospective of the both-ways flow of fashion across the Pacific Ocean (and beyond). The history is compelling and fun to read, though I feel at time his argumentation relies to heavily on anecdotal evidence. I particularly enjoyed the denim chapter.
Steven Yenzer
May 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
If you’re interested in fashion or culture, you’ll love this book. Marx’s research is impressive and his narrative is fascinating.
Keith
Mar 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
A must read for any American man interested in Fashion, visiting Japan, or buying Japanese goods.
Karen
Nov 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book far more than expected. I recommend it highly to people interested in fashion, particularly in menswear.
Adam
May 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Some of the best sociological fashion writing I’ve ever read!
Brandon Antone
Feb 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Really cool book on how Japan influenced modern menswear from Ivy, Denim, and Streetwear. If you're into men's style like me you will certainly enjoy this historical and sartorial journey.
Noelan Brewington-janssen
Mar 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fun look at the history of fashion exchange between the Japan an the US.
Dale
Jan 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, fashion
Those of you who know me, also know I'm a bit obsessed with Japanese-Americana fashion, specifically raw denim. This book is a history of how that style evolved in Japan.

It's a fascinating topic. Starting right after the Pacific War, with The Occupation, Japan was obsessed with the stuff that was coming from America. With an almost reverential obsession, fascinated Japanese tailors reversed engineered American fashion, and sell it to an urban Japanese youth.

The effect was interesting, like a
...more
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W. David Marx is a long-time writer on culture based in Tokyo and the author of "Ametora: How Japan Saved American Style" (Basic Books, 2015).