A couple of topics discussed frequently here are the topic of some forthcoming books by people far more knowledgable and talented than me. I talked about hooded sweatshirts to SHOWstudio a couple of months back, and a vast gap in my research meant the rich pre-20th century history of hoods that dates back to the middle ages was omitted. The Atlantic’s OBJECT LESSONS site is home to some great essays that explore the items we see every day — in association with Bloomsbury, they’re been releasing several books, including deep looks at bookshelves, golf balls, lighters, hotels and glass that explore traditions, science and the cultural context behind them. Alison Kinney’s 176-page The Hood arrives in March next year, and is dedicated to the subject of hoods, taking things back to clerics, Klan members and the political relevance of a covered head in the modern age after Abu Ghraib and the Trayvon Martin murder. There’s an astounding amount of semiotic paths to take with the hoodie, and I’m sure that — going on Kinney’s previous work — Hood will be worth investigating. Have there been any other worthy books on the subject, beyond the usual reactionist releases after the 2005 and 2011 tabloid furores over the working classes in the UK? This is something that transcends class and deserves a thorough exploration.
Japan’s fixation with American clothing has led to seminal documentation on the subject, support for innumerable brands creating product in US factories and where quality dipped on its home soil, superior licensing with companies like GOLDWIN, the American trad (locally altered to “Ametora”) obsession has been important in maintaining an integrity and attention to detail that’s less prevalent elsewhere. Tokyo-based writer W. David Marx researched the role of Ivy in Japan for a couple of years before writing Ametora: How Japan Saved American Style (which will finally be released next month). If you’re here, you’re liable to have some interest in the subject of Tokyo’s legacy of doing what we’re meant to do very, very well, but if you haven’t read the author’s Ivy Style pieces on the Miyuki-Zoku and VAN JACKET (documenting a time when a traditional look by American standards was downright provocative in Japan), you’re missing out. Give those articles a read, then add this to the wish list.