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What Is the Allure of Japanese Leather Jackets?

Claybertrand

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I've always found this fascinating as well. The Japanese fantasy of post war America, greaser culture...Harley Davidson. It's all so romanticized. It's like a memory of something that never really happened. That romanticism has produced some incredible clothes and truly beautiful motorcycles! Zero engineering is one of my favorite bike builders out of Japan:
harley-knucklehead.jpg

Austere simplicity at it's finest.

Very well put. The Greaser culture being romanticized by another culture to the point they are celebrating something that never actually happened and sorta making it their own....... I wonder how much of the post war morale in Japan led to their love of post war America culture---or at least---their interpretation of it. Its very interesting.

This bike is KILLER!!!!!! A modern antique....... almost seems to have just the slightest Steam Punk vibe to it in my mind.....
 

marker2037

Practically Family
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Curacao/NJ, USA
Thank you for your post. Unfortunately, my homework has not been very fruitful. As an example, the Real McCoys has been around for a number of years, yet their website tells nothing of their history, manufacturing process, employees, etc.
https://therealmccoys.com/pages/about-the-real-mccoys

You hit on my point precisely. We cannot rely on stereotypes to judge goods from a certain country. "It is Japan’s esteemed craftsmanship and expertise which makes such high-quality reproduction possible." Sorry, that statement doesn't cut it for me any more than Germans beating their chests over German engineering...or Americans beating their chests over ________ (fill in the blank). Japan's history of craftsmanship is not necessarily reflective of how "X" company in Japan produces their goods today...in a world that is more about the bottom line than ever.

I spent much of my career in manufacturing facilities around the world. In most countries I visited, I saw facilities that were abysmal and others that were mindblowingly good. I've seen incredible craftsmen as well as unskilled people making high-dollar goods. I've seen Chinese factories that absolutely blow the doors off comparable American factories, yet some Americans would insist American-made is better.

I'm not saying we throw history completely out the window. It's obvious that many of these Japanese jackets are very well made. For $2000, I want to know details beyond "made in ______." Any details about these Japanese firms is appreciated.
Why does the history matter? Many companies around the world do not divulge that type of information and if they do it's just a generic background. I understand we want some magical provenance from some guru in the world of leather sewing, but the truth is it's probably just "Soichiro liked cool, old American leather jackets and decided to make one himself, which then started company X. Hitoshi worked for company X when he decided to make his own company, company Y". Truth is, it seems a lot of these Japanese companies are offshoots from one another and they often tie into a manufacturer who is the one actually producing the jackets, like Rainbow Country.

The Flat Head
I've seen many people quote this company as the best though. They seem nice in pictures.

For midrange I would say Y2 seems to be somewhere around there.
 
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That said, I love so many things about the Japanese jackets (speaking generally here). For one thing, I feel a sort of amused sense of national pride that people in another country so different from American culture fell so passionately in love with these Old American jackets that WE ALL ARE ENAMOURED WITH that they seem to have "raided" the U.S. and gobbled up so many of the coolest old designs ever made. That is in addition to their accumulating so many NOS American Military jacket accessories and parts.

That's well put about the exotic appeal of another country or culture. I guess it's no different than the entire West obsessing over Japanese martial arts, the whole Samurai and Bushido deal, followed by Anime & Manga in the more recent years.

It's got a lot to do with movies, I suppose. Or perhaps it's got everything to do with movies. The greaser culture. . . I doubt it it even existed outside the movies, at least in the form it's been depicted this whole time. Kind of hilarious, the whole thing.

Times like these I do miss Big J's insight. He has a wonderful perspective into Japanese culture.

I miss Big J's insights at all times. He rocked.
 

Marc mndt

I'll Lock Up
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4,925
I've seen many people quote this company as the best though. They seem nice in pictures.
They do? These are a few examples, there are many more. I think Aero would sell these as apprentice jackets. Definitely not something I'd spend 2k+ on.

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For midrange I would say Y2 seems to be somewhere around there.

Y2 jackets aren't on the same level as FW, but that's not very surprising since they're half the price. I'd say they are good value.

I'd call Schott midrange. Y2 jackets are definitely above that.
 

marker2037

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Curacao/NJ, USA
They do? These are a few examples, there are many more. I think Aero would sell these as apprentice jackets. Definitely not something I'd spend 2k+ on.

View attachment 373461 View attachment 373462 View attachment 373463 View attachment 373464



Y2 jackets aren't on the same level as FW, but that's not very surprising since they're half the price. I'd say they are good value.

I'd call Schott midrange. Y2 jackets are definitely above that.
To be fair, I have never analyzed Flat Head jackets nor really seen one in anything but pictures from online shops, so you may be right. I wasn't saying they are top level, just that others claim they are.

As for Y2, same scenario really. I would have to get my hands on one to see how it really does as far as pattern goes. The quality seems to be there, but it's all about that fit. Their Type I (or is II?) seems pretty awesome in pics though.
 

Coriu

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Why does the history matter? Many companies around the world do not divulge that type of information and if they do it's just a generic background.

It's a great question. I look at a $2000 jacket like a piece of art..more than "just a jacket." Am not proposing leather jackets should be signed. Nor do I need to know the person's name. But in that dollar range, I would like a general idea of the level of experience of the person selecting the hide, cutting and sewing the leather.

Aero calls out their apprentice jackets, a respectable practice. It tells me they have some process for training their people. True tradespeople/craftsmen apprentice...often for many years. With the labor shortages of today, I think it prudent to be skeptical and question. It's all part of the equation of "What makes this jacket worth $2000?"
 
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Canuck Panda

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If a store like Desolation Row opens in LA or NYC, I am sure the prices would be just as high or even higher than in Tokyo.

It's no different than going on a holiday in the Mediterranean and coming home with a Thedi.

I would totally make room in the budget for a La Brea from Desolation Row to my Japan Getaway, but I would not buy it online. The experience (not just the jacket) is worth the price of admission.
 

Claybertrand

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marker2037

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navetsea

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i don't believe there is culture so strong in one pursuit of perfection that resonance to an entire nation, we are just human so are japanese, some of them are lazy, some of them are hard working, some open to new view and keep on updating, some are stubbornly follow old familiar ways, some strong in concepting, some meticulous in detail application. and so are their products.

it is the same in every country, I bet you can find fine details, straight sewn jacket everywhere in the world.

I've seen a japanese tv program where they show a soy sauce factory, they keep the soysauce in the pot and play certain japanese traditional song to it to better age the sauce, so it fermenting better, supposedly due to vibration of the song into the pot, etc... nice story... I think that is their strength..
 

Aloysius

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Thank you for your post. Unfortunately, my homework has not been very fruitful. As an example, the Real McCoys has been around for a number of years, yet their website tells nothing of their history, manufacturing process, employees, etc.
https://therealmccoys.com/pages/about-the-real-mccoys

That's not actually their website. That's the website of the store in London that sells Real McCoys.

There's this weird trend in the UK of a store selling a given Japanese brand… and going by the name of that brand (with big mark-ups, of course). We saw this with Iron Heart as well, though in that case they eventually strong-armed their way into being given full control of Iron Heart's international sales, which is why if you buy an Iron Heart in the West from a store other than IHUK/International, you're still paying double the Japanese price.

As for the Japanese jacket cult… it's a mix of things. Most of which is driven by weebery, on which stores like Standard & Strange are built.

It makes a lot of money for those who cater to it, but hilariously the Japanese don't have this same obsession with Japanese made Americana. They of course buy it, and love a lot of it, but they don't look down on the American and other non-Japanese brands the way "workwear"/"JAPANESE CRAFTSMANSHIP"/etc types do.

I love my Japanese amekaji stuff, but ironically the people who obsess over it have a very shallow understanding of Japanese craft and culture. And one that would puzzle Japanese. [That in itself isn't necessarily disqualifying, but it's interesting.]

Some brands/brand fanbases are worse about it than others. For instance, RMC and BR are comparable… but RMC costs considerably more even in Japan (then costs considerably more than that at stores like S&S or RMC London). This leads to this feeling that RMC must be the very best at everything (helped by RMC's current owner spreading rumors about BR), entirely based on that price differentiation.
 

red devil

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There are a lot of Japanese one man shows as ell such as Four speed leathers for example... at least it was a one man show when I visited it.

Speaking of alcoholics, one of the most renowned kitchen knife makers in Japan was an alcoholic. He used to make knives when he ran out of money or so the story goes.
 
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i don't believe there is culture so strong in one pursuit of perfection that resonance to an entire nation, we are just human so are japanese, some of them are lazy, some of them are hard working, some open to new view and keep on updating, some are stubbornly follow old familiar ways, some strong in concepting, some meticulous in detail application. and so are their products.

it is the same in every country, I bet you can find fine details, straight sewn jacket everywhere in the world.

I've seen a japanese tv program where they show a soy sauce factory, they keep the soysauce in the pot and play certain japanese traditional song to it to better age the sauce, so it fermenting better, supposedly due to vibration of the song into the pot, etc... nice story... I think that is their strength..

I agree but tradition being a cultural thing, striving toward perfectionism is something that's been associated with the Japanese tradition for a long time now - Though maybe this could just be romanticizing and generalization.
The fact, however, does remain that the most accurately reproduced leather jacket began appearing in Japan, even though the entire repro thing started off in Europe, during the 80's. Just that where others called it a day, Japan took things a few steps further and that's something that cannot be denied.
 

Coriu

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A lot of tradition in places seems to be going by the wayside. Enough so, that I am skeptical to put labels on anyone, especially younger people. I live in a rural county that is historically known for hard-working, conservative farm workers with good manners. As a school teacher now, I can assure you that the majority of my kids are not hard-working, have no interest in farming, and use foul language as bad as any inner city kid. They will curse out a teacher in a heartbeat. We are at a time of incredible change.

Only the most deeply rooted cultural traditions/values are being sustained...or so it seems. BTW-There are many things younger folks today are changing for the positive as well. I simply use the above as an example of how "People from there are like this and that" labeling may not be accurate.
 
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I love my Japanese amekaji stuff, but ironically the people who obsess over it have a very shallow understanding of Japanese craft and culture. And one that would puzzle Japanese. [That in itself isn't necessarily disqualifying, but it's interesting.]

I noticed this as well - And not just about Japanese craft & culture but how they completely disregard fashion in general, which I find incomprehensible as it's the most important crucial part of the let's call it scene & some of these guys completely disregard it, thinking the nicheness alone is sufficient to elevate them above the need for learning.

This leads to this feeling that RMC must be the very best at everything (helped by RMC's current owner spreading rumors about BR), entirely based on that price differentiation.

Great observation and again, something that stems from (deliberate) lack of comparison and antagonism toward actual knowledge. But I get it; There's simply so much to learn thus highest prices & most pretentious blurbs are the easiest route toward style.

Did you notice how many of these older guys tend to say how they've discovered style at whatever age, instead of fashion? Rugged style. Ugh.
 
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