Engineered Garments  and the Origins of Japanese Ivy Style

Engineered Garments and the Origins of Japanese Ivy Style

Daiki Suzuki is the Japanese founder and creative director of Engineered Garments. Renowned for his ability to infuse American sensibilities into his designs, Suzuki has carved out a distinct niche for his brad in the industry. His unique style navigates the intersection of vintage prep, blue-collar workwear, and functional military aesthetics.



Suzuki began his career working for a Japanese apparel company handling imports. Eventually moving on to join Nepenthes as a buyer which was a pivotal turn in his career as it led to Suzuki moving to the United States. In New York Suzuki launched Engineered Garments in 1999 as an in-house brand for Nepenthes. The brand received plenty of critical acclaim. In 2008, he was proclaimed “Best New Menswear Designer in America” by CFDA and GQ magazine.

Suzuki’s approach to Ivy League is informed by classic American brands like Brooks Brothers, J.Press, Sperry and Abercrombie. Suzuki adheres to the traditional preppy style with items like the Engineered Garments 19th Century BD Shirt and the Ivy Blazer. The designer also challenges the aesthetic by pairing the preppy formal wear with utilitarian military inspired Fatigue Pants and the workwear inspired Coverall Suit.


The Origins of the Ivy League style in Japan

The Summer of 1964 saw the rise of a new subculture in Tokyo. The Miyuki-Zoku were a group of Japanese teenagers who adopted the Ivy League style. They famously would loiter around the Ginza shopping neighbourhood with a brown paper bag containing their school uniform in hand. They abandoned their school uniform for three buttoned blazers, crisp Oxford shirts, and cropped khaki pants. Despite the United States associating the formal Ivy League outfits with the intellectual elite, in Japan the Miyuki-Zoku were branded juvenile delinquents. The scrutiny of the teenagers was increased due to Tokyo being the host of the 1964 Olympic Games. The police received constant complaints about the hundreds of Japanese teenagers hanging around in strange clothing. With the impending Olympic Games less than a month away the Tokyo police swept the streets of Ginza apprehending anyone caught wearing a button-down shirt leading to two hundred arrests. Ultimately, this led to the end of the Miyuki Tribe, but the Ivy League style prevailed.


The Ivy League style has consistently been used by subcultures as a form of rebellion. Miyuki-Zoku took a similar approach to a ‘revolt in style’ as black Civil Rights activists in the United States. Just as the generation of 1960s black men challenged racist society whilst dressing impeccably, the Tokyo teenagers mirrored this in this rebellious attitude in their Ivy League attire.



Despite the previous efforts, with time the Ivy League style became the backbone of Japanese menswear design and was adopted by the masses. The influence of the American Ivy League on Japanese fashion was reciprocal in nature. As Japanese designers began to draw inspiration from the Ivy League aesthetic, they forged their own brands, such as BEAMS Plus and Engineered Garments. These labels not only reshaped the fashion landscape in the US but also wielded significant influence on a global scale.


The symbiotic relationship between the Ivy League style in the United States and Japan is eloquently depicted in W. David Marx’s book ‘Ametora: How Japan Saved American Style’. Marx delves into the intricate dynamics of the cultural exchange, illustrating how Japanese reinterpretations of American fashion not only revitalised traditional styles but also propelled them to newfound prominence worldwide. As a result, the Ivy League aesthetic transcended geographical boundaries, becoming a timeless style embraced by fashion enthusiasts across the globe.