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Nov 19, 2014

Down the Rabbit Hole of Japanese Men's Style Magazines!



I've been aware of the fascinating world of Japanese men's style magazines for a few years now.

I don't remember where I first heard about them, but if you follow any men's style blogs (or Pinterest boards), you'll often see them cited.  Kinokuniya, the Japanese bookstore chain with a branch near the NYC Garment District, carries dozens of them.  Otherwise, they're not easy to find Stateside, though you can find back issues of many of them on eBay.

After scanning a few when I was at the bookstore to purchase my military jackets book last week, I decided to splurge for one of my own.  I walked out with three.







You may or may not know that many Japanese men are obsessed with 20th Century classic American sportswear, workwear, and Ivy League style/Mad Men-era style.  I don't know how many men we're actually talking about, but clearly enough to support dozens of glossy fashion/style magazines filled with these kinds of clothes.

Most of these magazines specialize in one particular aesthetic, say, hipster fashion (as seen on the streets of Brooklyn and now, apparently, Tokyo), or Italian street style (the kind of thing often seen on the Sartorialist blog); some skew more toward business suits, others toward skateboard/youth culture.  But what's similar about them is the obsession with detail, the hundreds of photos, and the broad range of body types/ages of the people in them.  These are nothing like the bland American men's fashion/style magazines like GQ or Details, which have always struck me as being fearful of focusing too much on clothes (too girly/gay?), so they're stuffed with macho posturing about drinking, cars, and half-naked starlets.















I've posted photos from my small collection of magazines, Free and Easy, Clutch, and Leon Snap here.

I can't explain how the Japanese fixation on American style (that most American men don't seem to care much about or maybe take for granted) came about, but I find it fascinating AND inspiring.  I own a lot of the individual items that show up in these magazines (e.g., peacoat, mountain parka, newsboy cap, desert boots) and it's cool to see how beautifully they're styled -- and celebrated -- here.

I'd love to hear what your take is on all this, if you have one.  (Do similar magazines exist for women?)

Have a great day, everybody!

More about Japanese men's style magazines here and here.

19 comments:

  1. How great! I would love to see what the female equivalent of these magazines are. Grey haired women posing as fashion icons with an illustrated list of how to copy their style. Unfortunately, that's not something you see regularly in western women's fashion magazines. I would love to see if this is about culture or gender......

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    1. The Japanese edition of Madame Figaro is pretty good.

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  2. These are great! I love the models. I don't know if theres a female equivalent but if there is I would support it

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  3. Mrs Stylebook is one for women, and the high summer edition has a elegant older woman on the cover http://www.ebay.com/itm/Mrs-Stylebook-2014-High-Summer-magazine-Japanese-Dress-Making-Book-/221488320296?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3391bb8f28#ht_1272wt_918

    From what i know of the japanese publishing they are very good at marketing to sectors, so there'll be young fashion, older fashion etc, but if what you want isn't a market segment they recognise it simply won't be there. (gained from a Q&A session with a comic artist published in the west & in Japan.

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  4. Back in the mid eighties I spent a year in Japan as an exchange student, before later returning to work for a couple of years. One of my earliest memories is the surprise I felt upon discovering that my host brother was an avid and open reader of men's fashion magazines, and used them as a style guide. No Aussie boy I knew would have admitted to such a thing. He was not the only young man to do this. Practically every boy I met took an interest in his appearance. Japanese publishers target specific readership markets with extraordinary precision. As a young woman, I read Jj, Can Cam and Non No, as a young married I read Very and Grazia, and now in my forties, I read Story. When I turn fifty there will be a magazine for that age too. The nice thing is that when I open Story magazine, all the models used are in their forties too, and all the clothes and articles are for the needs of forty year old women. (Diamonds play a big part, apparently!)

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    1. Would you by any chance know the names of any targeted to a woman in her early fifties? I don't know that I'd be able to find a copy of one anywhere anyway, but I'd like to try.

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    2. I just found a website that lists a lot of them: www.japanesestreets.com

      I'm having trouble finding them on amazon japan, though.

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    3. Hi Leigh Ann. A magazine that targets fabulous fifty plus women is called Hers. I think it is available at places like Kinokuniya. If you are in Australia, try contacting Kanga Kanga in melbourne.

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  5. The men in the pics are all very attractive, in spite of or because of the differences in age, body type, etc. I would date any one of them. American men are so afraid of seeming "gay" that they won't show any interest in fashion.

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    1. They are very atractive! I'd date them too.

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  6. I think it is wonderful to see men of all ages interested in any clothing besides jeans and tee shirts. The only thing I can't quite deal with is the pants above the ankles that look like my brothers in the 60's who were ever outgrowing their jeans.

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    1. so agree, I saw a young guy the other day and his back pockets were behind his knees. This look has outlived its day. It's time that they guys moved on to something else.

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  7. I wonder why US companies don't target fashion age groups the way Japan does. Is it more profitable to use Victoria's Secret model clones to sell everything from clothes to wrist watches and cars? (Probably). Japan seems to have a good system though, you open up a magazine and see people of your own age who look like you and are dressed well. Instead, Americans are obsessed with youth and every six months we are all marketed the same runway fashions worn by tall, rail thin 14-year-old models. And what if this season's cap sleeves and empire waists don't flatter every body type? Too bad. The clothes aren't the problem, you are, so thrust yourself into the billion dollar diet industry! Or just relegate yourself to wearing Crocs and sweatpants like the other fatties, amiright?

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  8. The fashion is amazing, but I am stunned at all the facial hair, which is very unusual in Japan.

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  9. I so wish there was a place nearer to me to get my hands on the Japanese fashion mags! And like you I wish more men would take an interest in fashion...... Praying for yer mum and yer family. :-)

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  10. www.tokyohive.com and www.allkpop.com deal with J-pop and K-pop celebs. On those sites, you see posts mentioning the celebs' latest magazine photo shoots and some images. I'm surprised at how many Korean editions of familiar US fashion magazines that the J and K stars get photo spreads for. Then there are the magazine titles not known to me that seem to have European names.

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