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What We Did on Summer (and Spring and Winter) Vacation

Néojaponisme puts the “occasionally-published” into “occasionally-published web journal.”

As you may have noticed, Néojaponisme has not been overflowing with content in 2013. I, David W. Marxy, III, take the full brunt of responsibility, but I have an excuse. I am writing a overly-detailed book on the history of American menswear in Japan.

My original idea to look at the development of Ivy League fashion in Japan — a before, after, and behind-the-scenes of photo book Take Ivy — but my prospective publisher made the extremely sensible call of expanding the narrative into the world’s first English-language cultural history of Japan’s import, absorption, and export of traditional American clothing — i.e., VAN Jacket, the Miyuki-zoku, Okayama denim, Heavy Duty, Popeye, Hamatora, Uraharajuku, and the excitement around Japanese Americana back in America. The story starts in 1911 and will end in present times. This may sound boring for non-fashion enthusiasts but about 90% of the book is about the people and stories around the clothing rather than the intricacies of fashion design, like hook vents, Union Specials, and open-end spinning (although these all make an appearance).

The reason for my tackling this specific subject matter is that the people who first brought American fashion in the early 1960s are hitting about 80 years old. Their memories and health are fading — or at risk of doing so soon. (We sadly lost Take Ivy photographer Hayashida Teruyoshi just last month.) If there is a time to write this book, it’s now.

So far I’ve written 50,000 words and counting — probably the most I’ve ever written about anything in my entire life, and already exceeding the total output of my most prolific year of blogging. Books are much harder projects for a whole variety of reasons, but it’s been rewarding and stimulating to sit down and really delve into a single topic — especially one that flows through a very small set of individuals and organizations who are all linked. It’s also been fun to interview lots of people who only remember dates by the Showa year. If you’re interested in the history of Japanese fashion, I post side stories, trivia, and things cut from the book over at

The writing requires a lot of organization and discipline, so I have had less time for other pieces (except my satirical, non-hoax “Open Letter to Kanye West from the Association of French Bakers” on, which Politico notes, too easily fooled mainstream media outlets such as Time and Fox News).

I, Ian Lynam, have been equally to blame for the lack of content here. It’s been a very busy past number of months for many of the same reasons that David mentioned above. I have been busy working on a book of collected essays, as well as in the initial stages of another book on the emergence of Japanese Modern graphic design.

These efforts have been compounded by a number of editorial and curatorial projects. I wrote, edited, and designed a new 96-page feature on the legacy of the California Institute of the Arts in issue #360 of Idea Magazine recently, the result of a weeklong workshop that Idea Editor-In-Chief Kiyonori Muroga and I held earlier this year at the Valencia, California school (and my alma mater). That workshop sucked up a good chunk of time, as did preparing our lecture — the first on the birth of the Japanese graphic design press ever delivered in English.

Additionally, I just put together Letterfirm, an exhibition of expressive typography in conjunction with North America’s premier typography conference TypeCon. The Portland, Oregon show featured the work of 24 designers from all over the world. Published along with the exhibition was The Letterfirm Reader, a 96-page booklet of recent essays on graphic design, aesthetics, history, and criticism.

Okay so that’s what we weren’t writing on the site. We do have some plans for Néojaponisme pieces in the coming weeks and months. Maybe get Feedly or one of those new Google Reader clones to follow us. Otherwise we will alert you to new things on our Twitter account as well as Google+. We’re always open to pitches but know in advance that we’re always really, really picky.

September 9, 2013

Team Néojaponisme are a-okay. Thanks for asking.

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