Sukajyan are largely beyond the reach of Japanese fashion, except for the indulgently ironic examples that crop up in only the hippest of the hip shops of Tokyo.  That is not to say they do not have trends of their own – last season Sukajyan were covered in military imagery and this spring they seem to be taking in cartoony Tokugawa era graphics.  So hardly a stagnant field, but having said that the fundamental shape and fit of the Sukajyan is not going anywhere in a hurry and thanks to them not being all that warm in the winter you are pretty much stuck with wearing them in the spring and autumn in their current form.  So I suggest you join me in taking the opportunity to indulge in the latest developments in the world of Sukajyan.  I do warn you, they can become very addictive.

Continue reading for my current picks of Sukajyan featuring the work of Script and Satori amongst a couple of designers you might not have heard of.

Oh yes, retro Japonica designs are really big at the moment.  Particularly the inarticulate skulls and tigers.  Compare the quality of embroidery on this one to the Gold-Fish in the intro image.  Things have certainly evolved since the 40s!

I am a big fan of this very Tokugawa way of drawing the skulls.  I have always found this stylised version infinitely more creepy than current gothic tastes.

Now for something much more modern.  Blown up and symmetrical designs are getting popular of late and I find it much easier to wear outside of the amekaji style than other sukajyan.

Having said that you can’t beat a classic Satori Sukajyan.  Like how people are working on the arms more and more these days.

Really like this design, although it is a bit too “Japanese” for me to wear I reckon.  I don’t want to look like a Japan nerd – although I might well be one.

I have also noticed more and more glack and grey Sukajyan recently, especially with black cuffs and collar – which used to be hard to find.  Oh, and love the bearded turtle on the reverse side of this one.

And I am not sure how I feel about this one, but wolves are really coming in this season.  As in, I have seen one from every major designer.  I am all for new subjects, but this one just reminds me of the ol’ iconic hipster t-shirt no matter how good the embroidery.

Oddly enough this one I like too, it might be because I have soft spot for fat cats, but I like the gold thread work as well and check out another bearded turtle.

The other trend I have picked up on, is that there are a lot more very simple designs out there (like the above).  It might just be too get the price down (which is always nice), but I find it also makes them that little bit easier to wear.

More wolves…  I will admit that they are pretty good.

Those are the Sukajyan, next up some alternatives if you want to get some Japanese patterning in your wardrobe without going down the Sukajyan route.

This really looks like a Roen collaboration, but I promise it isn’t!

I am always going to be a fan of Hanafuda designs.  That and Kabuki make-up sheets are some of the great underused motifs as far as I am concerned- we know dragons are cool, but they can get a bit repetitive alright!

Speaking of classic cool – this Hanya could have come straight from Shige’s sketchbook (or Tomo’s back).

Another good motif – Kirin.  I really have not seen many Raijin or Fuujin this year, told you even this kind of traditional work has trends.

Not sure how you would wear this, but even if it was only for festivals this is pretty damn cool.

Could not resist posting these Fishermen’s Wife ones again.  The staff over at Juvenile Delinquent did offer to make me a pair of black ones in a straight leg – I might have to take them up on that offer…

Classic Juvenile Delinquent.  Especially when it comes to jeans these guys are in a league of their own right now.

And finally – lest we forget what this is all about.  Painfully beautiful embroidery of actual art on your actual clothes.

There you go, another season, another load of gorgeous designs.  Price wise you can expect to pay between 30000-50000 yen for most of the Sukajyan and they are all produced in relatively limited quantities.

Even if I don’t get the chance to wear mine as much as I would like, I do love them and get such a kick out of wearing them when I do.  While the imagery is very similar to Japanese tattooing, the techniques in the embroidery are almost the polar opposite and at least with these ones you can change your bodysuit on a daily basis!  Ultimately it is nice to function out of fashion every now and then, these may become popular in the mainstream someday, but for now they are slice of indisputable cool and quality for you to enjoy in isolation.


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7 Responses to The Season of the Sukajyan

  1. trashtastika says:

    LOVE the skulls on these! Esp with the orange fan & sakura, and the red parasol. Traditional yet mod 🙂

  2. Tokyo Telephone says:

    Yeah, to be totally honest all my Sukajyan have skulls on in some form… I am a fan of the very traditional imagery but I would feel like a bit of a nerd wearing one, and I can’t quite bring myself to wear the Vietnam era artwork ones – people might think ill of it out of context.

    Thanks for the shout out on your site, even though I look like a proper fool in those purikura… Hope you made it back alright n’ all. Our flight was deserted out of Narita…


  3. Kerri says:

    Oh wow. I really want one of those now >_< I particularly like the first wolf/fox (I thought it was a fox before I read your comment 😛 ) and the skeletons with the sakura & the fan. Total sucker for great embroidery.

  4. Tokyo Telephone says:

    Don’t let my comments go putting you off – I just assumed it was a wolf on account of the full moon.

    Anyway, the embroidery on most of these are second to none, Satori and Script do occasionally make “complete coverage” ones where about 90 percent of the fabric (including the arms) is completely saturated with embroidery – amazing. Those usually come in at 50000-70000 yen, but are well worth it.

  5. Kerri says:

    90%! That is intense. A piece to really treasure (I suppose should start saving now since I’ve now added one to my wishlist of a bajillion items.)
    This post has inspired me to give embroidery another go. Probably on a much smaller scale though, aha.

  6. Marina says:

    HOLY SH*T . It’s been like two ours that I’m lookin for a sukajyan to buy , I’m picky as hell about clothes and I can’t believe that those are real :

    Do you know if there is a website where I can buy it ? Or if it’s impossible to have exactly the same, where can I find sukajan embroided with skeletons ? or some creepy design ?

    Thanks !

  7. Samuel says:

    @ Marina,

    Glad you like them! There are actually quite a few artists and brands working with skeleton imagery at the moment, but they don’t tend to sell online directly.

    You are best off looking on Rakuten and using their inbuilt shopping service to get them to ship abroad.

    Hope you get what you are looking for!

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