University of Hertfordshire

Buying Japanese: Anglosphere Translations of Japanese Menswear Culture in Online Menswear Communities

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

  • Nathaniel Weiner
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Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 28 May 2017
EventAnnual Meeting of the Canadian Comparative Literature Association - Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada
Duration: 28 May 201730 May 2017


ConferenceAnnual Meeting of the Canadian Comparative Literature Association


In his book Ametora, David Marx details the ways in which American style has influenced Japanese men’s fashion. He emphasises that this was not so much a case of mimicry as one of translation, with American items, from button-down shits to jeans to sneakers, taking on new meanings in Japan. Marx notes that because of the internet, these Japanese brands have started selling their translation back to Americans. One of the principal sites for the discussion of these Japanese brands is the world of online menswear communities. The members of these communities are amongst the most enthusiastic Western devotees of Japanese menswear. Drawing on an online ethnography of these communities and interviews with their users, this paper investigates why men in the Anglosphere are so enamoured with the Japanese interpretation of American style. I describe how Japanese brands’ attention to detail, craftsmanship and choice of quality materials make Japanese clothes desirable to Western men, showing how Japanese translations are believed to be superior to contemporary American offerings. Finally, I argue that this Japanese translation provides insights into the distinctive mentality of online menswear community members. Their attention to detail, their fetishisation of production techniques, their slavering admiration of product photos and their treatment of clothing as a hobby are all, in many ways, translations of Japanese menswear culture.

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