Around since the 40s, the Souvenir Jacket is back in a huge way
The Cultural History of this season’s most popular jacket trend
The ascent of the Souvenir jacket or Sukajan (in Japanese) within both streetwear and mainstream fashion is remarkable. The jacket, once given to American soldiers after WW II as "souvenirs" to commemorate their time in Japan, has become a bonafide style favourite. Originally, American troops would have Japanese designs embroidered on their military bombers, such as cherry blossoms, animals on the chest and even maps to remember their time served. The jacket itself became firmly fixed within American soldier culture; when war brought American troops to Korea and Vietnam, the souvenir jacket came with it, evolving in design to reflect the areas the soldiers were stationed at.
Today, the original Souvenir jackets are intensely sought after in vintage collector circles, and many brands, from Supreme to Saint Laurent, have released their own versions of the iconic jacket. The jacket has become a symbol of rebellion and counterculture, as well, many rock stars and celebrities have adopted the look adding to its popularity. However it's come onto your radar, here's a selection of Souvenir jackets that you can scoop right now.
If you want something low-key, this H&M offering is one to consider. While most souvenir jackets are quite colourful, this one features black on black embroidery which gives the jacket a dark, monotone feel.
This jacket by Jaded London features beautiful Cranes on the front and back, and gets major trend points for its use of pastel colours — also big this summer.
For those that prefer classic black and white, this Zara souvenir jacket might be the right fit. The only Sukajan "marker" would be the embroidered dragon on the back, otherwise the overall design is quite minimalist and clean.
I love the cream palette of this Alpha Industries interpretation, and the Tiger detailing on the front and back is executed so well.
Moving into designer territory (and price point) this Sandro Paris reversible souvenir jacket has a conservative and wild side. One side is mostly black and white, except for the Tiger embroidered decoration, the other side has an amazing blue, white and red colour combination which adds a perfect summer-like pop! Leave it to this Parisian brand to give you options depending on mood or event.
One of my favourites on the list is this Souvenir jacket from New York-based label 3.1 Phillip Lim. Obviously this one gets extra points for its reversibility: a clean black and white silk bomber with cream stripe detailing on the trim and shoulders one one side, while the other features a wild leopard print in orange and navy. It's out there, but I dig it.
It's only fitting that high-end Streetwear brand Off-White's offering best exemplifies what's going on in modern streetwear today. The bold back graphic and oversized fit are signature Off-White elements, and the choice of Tiger embroidery on the forearms instead of chest is nice twist on the traditional Souvenir jacket layout. Don't be surprised if you see Kanye rocking this sometime soon.
Leave it to Italian luxury brand Gucci to have an interesting take on the classic souvenir jacket. I love the unexpected choice of sky blue corduroy on this jacket, and the three-headed dragon and floral back design is next level! (Admittedly as is the price!) This is the jacket Jared Leto wears to his next premiere.