The Story of Murakami Haruki’s Short Stories for J.Press by Néojaponisme

Daniel Morales and W. David Marx of Tokyo-based website, Néojaponisme, look into the unlikely story of famed Japanese novelist Murakami Haruki and his rise as a writer for Ivy League clothier J. Press during the ’70s and ’80s. While the Japanese apparel giant Onward held the licenses for a selection of classic American labels in the Ivy tradition, including J. Press, “a favorite of Baby Boomers who had grown up on Ivy League style in the mid-1960s”, the company moved away from the traditional advertising format and instead featured lesser-known authors’ short stories on the back of popular titles such as Popeye, Men’s Club, and Box. In the process, J. Press stumbled upon a young Japanese writer named Murakami Haruki.

Still in the early days of his career, through lighthearted and oddball pieces, Haruki began to make waves with J. Press’ audiences by his substantial use of referencing American pop culture. Once a month, J. Press would slap its logo on Haruki’s stories like Hotel Lobby Oysters, Donut-ization, and Attack of the Mushikubo Old Guy, and then accompany it with an illustration from artist Anzai Mizumaru. Morales and Marx’s write up about the uncanny story of Haruki’s start is definitely a piece worth reading as it is a fascinating peek into the creative menswear moves made in that period and the early days of a now iconic writer. You can read the full story at Néojaponisme.

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