Jason Gabbert Design          jason(at)jasongabbertdesign(dot)com

Case Study…
final design

digital sketches


Research and immersion into the content of a project is one of my favorite aspects of being a designer. Ametora, assigned to me by the talented Nicole Caputo, is the perfect example of this process.

Here is a description of Ametora by the publisher.

“Look closely at any typically “American” article of clothing these days, and you may be surprised to see a Japanese label inside. From high-end denim to oxford button-downs, Japanese designers have taken the classic American look-known as ametora, or “American traditional”-and turned it into a huge business for companies like Uniqlo, Kamakura Shirts, Evisu, and Kapital. This phenomenon is part of a long dialogue between Japanese and American fashion; in fact, many of the basic items and traditions of the modern American wardrobe are alive and well today thanks to the stewardship of Japanese consumers and fashion cognoscenti, who ritualized and preserved these American styles during periods when they were out of vogue in their native land.

In Ametora, cultural historian W. David Marx traces the Japanese assimilation of American fashion over the past hundred and fifty years, showing how Japanese trendsetters and entrepreneurs mimicked, adapted, imported, and ultimately perfected American style, dramatically reshaping not only Japan’s culture but also our own in the process.”

I was asked to create a modern design with a historical dimension and given several great design examples to reference (reference 1, reference 2, reference 3, reference 4, reference 5, reference 6). The natural next step was to take some time and dive into the history and inspiration of the ametora style. I spent several nights at Portland’s Powell’s books in the fashion section. Here I researched the oxford style, Japanese style, and textile design (all things I already find intriguing). I then poured over all this content while drinking beer in the nearby Deschutes brew pub.

Nicole and I had several back and forth conversations. I showed her options pulled from our many inspirations. I tend to create digital sketches in Photoshop and then refine before showing the client. Nicole and I then honed them into what she felt would best to present to her team. In the end, we landed on a modern take of several Japanese fashion magazine designs.

For the final imagery, I selected several stock examples that represented the content. The author then acquired images of specific brands and sent them for us to review and select.

The type and color are a modern take on the oxford style and the referenced fashion design magazines. Since the context was Japan, I was able to take advantage of both horizontal and vertical layouts. This is something all designers want to do, but rarely get an appropriate opportunity for. The typeface used is Rama Slab E Bold and Hiragino Kaku Gothic Pro.

Fast forward three years. I am walking through Powell’s, overwhelmed as I usually am in this bookstore. And I find a copy of Ametora sitting on display in the very section I spent hours researching for it. I loved seeing the full cycle of my design being placed alongside its many inspirations.