More than 70 years after they were introduced, souvenir jackets – those colourful, embroidered satin bombers seen on everyone from Harry Styles to Keith Richards – are having a sure-fire fashion moment. A potent mix of Eastern and Western iconography, souvenir jackets are the standout items for this season, with variations seen on the runways of Saint Laurent, Louis Vuitton and Gucci.
Also known as sukajan, the garments originated in post-WWII Japan, where American servicemen used Japanese and Chinese dragons and tigers, among other Eastern motifs, to customise their flight jackets. To rework this trend, we thought London’s Central Saint Martins-educated, Hong Kong-based designer Joseph Li – a deft hand at interpreting the Eastern spirit into contemporary clothing – would be the perfect interpreter.
This season, Lane Crawford Will stock an exclusive capsule edition of souvenir jackets designed by Li, featuring the intricate embroidery of animals from the Chinese zodiac, including the tiger, dragon and monkey – all made in the finest silk.
Chinese motifs, quality fabrics and modern, sportswear-influenced shapes are at the centre of Li’s brand, SAAM1, founded last year. Taking eclectic inspiration from grime artist Skepta, Bruce Lee, Jean-Michele Basquiat and Maxine Buchi, Li combines influences from new and old pop culture with minimalist shapes and bold details.
Besides the zodiac animals, Li also embroidered Chinese numerological charts on the bombers, to explore the idea of “how numbers order our lives in today’s digital world”.
It’s this intriguing mix of old and new that we wanted Li to explore and we're sure you'll agree that in his hands, these jackets are the ultimate embodiment of East meets West; a modern staple reworked in safe hands.