Japanese Long Johns Go Mode


When you think of Long Johns, being cool and fashionable doesn’t come to mind. Think again!

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Just like the West has Long Johns, long underwear invented some 100 years ago, Japan has had Suteteko (すててこ). Suteteko date back to the Meiji period (1868-1912) and were initially worn under kimono or hakama. When Western style clothing came in vogue, they were worn under pants, or used as home wear.

They have become the stereotypical Summer item in Japanese popular culture. Lots of Japanese movies, anime and manga feature men wearing the comfortable but oh so unfashionable Suteteko. In the Japanese mind they have become part of the image of the Showa Period (1926-1989).

The public image of Suteteko

This is now undergoing a drastic change. Suteteko are making a dramatic comeback, and have become ultra cool among the young, both guys and girls. The comeback consists of two steps: a completely new word, Iketeko (イケテコ), made from combining iketeru (hot) with suteteko, and up-to-date designs and materials. I have even seen Iketeko that had an image of faded jeans printed on them, complete with holes.

These modern day Long Johns are so cool, you can wear them as outerwear or swimwear without anybody realizing you are out in your undies. An additional benefit is that they absorb your sweat and thereby protect your pants. It is a great way to save money on expensive dry-cleaning.

A true coming out for a fashion item that has been kept in the closet or under wraps for way too long. Go get your Iketeko!

I found some great Iketeko on the online shop of





Top image: Suteteko offered on the online shop of

Kjeld Duits About the Author

Inspired by the stunningly creative street fashion that exploded on the streets of Tokyo and Osaka in the late 1990’s, photo-journalist Kjeld Duits launched JAPANESE STREETS in 2002. This makes JS one of the first fashion blogs on the net, and the very first to cover Japanese street fashion.

Recent articles by Kjeld Duits:

Comment (日本語もOK)

@Arc: I am with you. When I saw this first I had a strong feeling of recognition—it didn’t feel like it was something radically new. More like concepts for outerwear applied to undies.

Kjeld Duits (author)
Apr 16, 2010 (2894 days ago)

my wife is Japanese and she is looking for the typical Japanese (medias) to keep the body warm. let know wher I can find them

eustasio v camacho
Jan 9, 2015 (1166 days ago)

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