As something of a follow-up to my article on the Japanese Biker, I thought I would deal with the other major rebels in Japanese society – the Yakuza.  I grew up with glamourised images of the Yakuza striding around the streets of Kabukicho in sharp suits and outlandish shirts, however I can’t help but think that this is something that is pretty much confined to the pages of manga and celluloid.  The reality is that Yakuza “fashion” at it were, is something predominantly confined to tattoos, rather than walking around advertising your career criminal status.  So while it is unlikely even in the 80s that Yakuza ever displayed their fashion as much as I would have liked, it is gratifying that the  Shibuya brand Juvenile Delinquent actually still makes the clothes that the Yakuza ought to wear.

Continue reading for a breakdown of the Yakuza look and some more criminal (in more ways than one)  fashion.

Your basic tenets of the idealised Yakuza are:

Slicked back hair with optional shaved areas.

Tinted glasses (not sunglasses) – disguise the eyes, but you have to be able to see at night.

Second bag (comically small clutch associated with extreme manliness in Japan – article coming soon)

Obvious display of wealth through jewelery, brands or exotic leathers.

However, as I have said before if you actually see someone sporting the above look, they are more likely to be enjoying it as a look, not a lifestyle.  You see people wearing this kind of look around the night clubs of Shibuya, and thanks to that it has become something of a cult (as anything can be in Tokyo).  Now you have Zoot suited men at club events competing in swing dance competitions and all in all having a good time.  A far cry from the Yakuza in films from the 80s, but undeniably quite cool.

Juvenile Delinquent pretty much own this look outside of the Ueno and Kyoto based brands who were actually making these kind of clothes in the 80s.  JD have manage to evolve the look with hints of LA glam and gangs.

Floral imagery has always been a Yakuza favorite and JD just makes it that little bit more masculine.

Amazing fake fur coats.  The real thing would cost you a good months salary after all!

Their coats are great quality, relatively wearable and I just love this classic cut.

The complete look with an American gangster flair.

The traditional Japanese imagery used is definitely in vogue right now and infinitely more edgy than the luxury gothic.

This has to be my stand out piece from this years A/W 2010, great python panels finish off a classic jacket.  Very masculine and built for 2AM in Shibuya.

Taken from the staff blog

Regrettably, for all the stylised excess that Juvenile Delinquent can offer, because of its proximity to the club scene, you do get a lot of its fans wearing it like the above.  Not that that is necessarily bad, it is just a far cry from the threatening glamor of the Yakuza that the brand is built around.

While I may only satisfy myself with a scarf or arm warmer from JD, I do dream of getting myself Zoot-Suited-up and hitting the town, cane in hand.  A complete look from them may feel more like cosplay than I am comfortable with, but I just can’t help but love it.  I put it down for nostalgia for the images of Yakuza from my youth.  The problem is, I am starting to wonder whether they ever existed at all.


Tagged with →  
Share →

2 Responses to Yakuza Nostalgia

  1. […] street fashion – Yankii and Gyaru-O.  However, if done right it can pay homage to the 70s/80s Yakuza fashion, while incorporating  tastes of other classic rebel fashions.  In short – it can be a look […]

  2. nick says:

    beautiful article! nicely written. enjoyed it 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *