Japanese-style delinquent youth (“Yankee” in Japanese) fashion was popular among students. Is it popular again among the youth now?

I’m sure some of you who like anime such as Tokyo Revengers, Wind Breaker and Crows know that the school uniforms which the main characters wear are modified ones. Furthermore, the boys ride motorcycles in special coat-like outfits called “tokko-fuku”.

This is known as “Yankee” fashion, which was popular in Japan more than 40 years ago. I was born in the 1970s, and it gives me an image of being a bit old-fashioned, but I hear that it is becoming popular among today’s youth again.

Modified school uniform
The majority of male students in Japan wear school uniforms in junior high and high school. Most of these uniforms are called “gakuran” (black-colored uniform with a high collar).

If worn correctly, they look quite smart and cool, but “Yankee” fashion involves wearing a variant of this. Extremely short or long variations are used.

What’s so cool about a modified school uniform?

By wearing a modified school uniform, you are breaking the school rules. In other words, it is a statement of intent not to be bound by the rules. This kind of conspicuous attire attracts a lot of attention and fights from other students.

So, you essentially have to be tough to wear this attire. It is also a symbol of strength, which leads to the image of being “cool”. In terms of fashion, if you asked me whether it’s cool or not, I would say it’s not.

Violence = evil
Eventually, the sense of “violence is evil” spread throughout Japan, and Yankee fashion became uncool. To say that Japan has become a peaceful country is a nice way of putting it, but the problem is that everyone has become average and boring. And young people these days are beginning to be dissatisfied with such a boring situation so that’s why Yankee fashion is becoming popular again.

Is the fashion that was popular before the war the foundation of Yankee fashion?

The era of the samurai was over, and the Western way of life had arrived. The term “high culture” was used to describe this Western-style lifestyle, but there were people who did the exact opposite. Their attire was called “bankara”. They were dressed in a kimono, which was disheveled, and wore geta (kind of wooden clogs) and student hats. This was a time when tattered clothing was an expression of strength. A symbol of strength and an attitude of disobedience to rules. I believe that this kind of style led to the Yankee fashion.

Fighting and violence are not good, but isn’t it also important to be assertive?

Regardless of whether it is cool or not, if Yankee fashion has been revived in this day and age as a symbol of individuality and self-assertion, perhaps it is a good thing for a lackluster Japan.


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