Japan’s American Casual style incorporates various mid-century American influences into its style – the workwear of factory and railroad workers, the rebellious biker, the west-coat cowboy, and others – but one of the most conspicuous though somewhat under-represented in the West is that of military reproduction.
Though Buzz Rickson is known for this style and companies like Sugar Cane occasionally explore it as well, it’s a major part of the Japanese vintage scene that’s under-represented in the West. It’s an interesting testament to the Japanese mindset that, only a few years after the loss of World War II, men became enamoured with the style of American soldiers, particularly the heavyweight, durable flight jackets worn by Air Force aviators who fought against Japan in the war.
Decades later, reproductions of military jackets are perhaps more popular in Japan than North America; though it’s a rather ironic twist, it’s hard to fault the Japanese interpretation of classic American military wear.
One of Japan’s outstanding military brands is Toys McCoy. Despite the similar name, the company should not be confused with The Real McCoys as they split some years ago and are now completely separate companies. Toys McCoy reproduces not only the quality and design of vintage military jackets, but also the personalized details that made each item a unique creation.
Though the Toys McCoy jackets carry a high price tag – often approaching $3,000 USD – you’d be hard-pressed to find jackets created with more love or attention to detail. From their plain A-2 jackets to lavishly decorated and aged examples, it’s evident that the brand isn’t content to simply reproduce the specs of a garment – they also infuse them with the same life and unique qualities that make originals so desirable.
But while A-2 and N-1 military jackets might be the company’s bread and butter, they’re far from all that the brand has to offer. Toys McCoy also offers a wide range of pants and trousers – particularly of note of jeans like the 135D, based on World War II specs and the company’s imagining of jeans for aircraft carrier deck crews.
The brand’s apparel has a very different flavour from strict reproduction or work wear brands which is particularly evident in their T-shirt and sweatshirt designs featuring Air Force and other vintage motifs. They’re a good way for the denim head to diversify his wardrobe beyond the more common work wear items. For those into a more classic look, the Engineer 135D is another good choice with plainer detailing and subtle military touches like the stitch colours and US Air Force pocket bags.
Besides military-themed products, Toys McCoy also takes inspiration from racing. The company offers reproductions of Buco helmets, rider’s jackets and T-shirts based off the film Easy Rider, Steve McQueen, and others. Though the company’s product certain stands on its own, it’s licenses like these that offer some of their most interesting work – for example, their Shelby Cobra racing jackets and Mopar apparel.
These are all well-worth exploring for the denim head who’s interested in vintage-inspired fashion that goes beyond work and western wear, and the company’s T-shirts and sweatshirts are a good way to try the brand prior to buying a leather jacket, for example.
While many companies cover their products in garbled, patchwork English phrases, the graphics and wording on Toys McCoy products have an authenticity and plausibility that’s quite refreshing for Japanese brands that tend to go overboard.
As their name suggests, Toys McCoy has a playful side not often seen in reproduction brands. You’ll find motorcycle helmets with Warner Bros. characters, action figures, whistles, dog tags and other diverse and interesting accessories.
Compared to many Japanese brands that stick with familiar styles and themes that have already been thoroughly explored, Toys McCoy are quite adept at finding new and interesting ways to evoke American nostalgia in their products.