Fashion goes sensible in postquake Japan

June 24th, 2011 by Felicity Hughes

Tokyo’s luxurious department stores are seeing a new trend toward sober women’s fashion this summer as a direct consequence of the earthquake on March 11. Comfortable trousers, sensible shoes and muted colors are the order of the day, according to J-Cast, who polled the city’s department stores on sales figures since the quake.

If the shoe fits the occasion ...

If the shoe fits the occasion ...

It’s estimated that about 3 million people had to trudge home on the day of the quake when the city’s transport network came to a virtual standstill. Among them, we remember seeing a huge number of OL (office ladies) painfully making their way home in heels. That memory has stayed with women, many of whom are opting to buy ballet flats and low heels (not sports shoes but shoes that can be worn to the office or out on a date). In Matsuya Department Store in Chuo Ward and Ginza, for example, after mid-March sales of ballet flats shot up 50 percent.  A large department store in Shinjuku also reported a 50 percent increase in sales of walking shoes.

Sales of summer trousers for the misses demographic (women in their 30s to 40s) at Mitsukoshi Department Store in Nihonbashi are up 6 percent. “Many customers say that ‘If something happens, I want to be wearing clothes in which I’m free to move in.’ We’re seeing that trend continue,” a sales manager at Mitsukoshi told J-Cast. In Ginza’s well-established department stores, some stores are reporting a 10 percent rise in sales of women’s trousers.

Color schemes are also dampened. This year’s hot colors were expected to be red and orange in line with global trends, but a sales manager at a Ginza department store reports that white, beige and light blue are being favored over bold colors as are natural fabrics like cotton and linen.

Along with casual Super Cool Biz trends, we can expect to see a much more sober style adopted by women this summer as they tackle the psychological effects and practical concerns of a postquake world.

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One Response

  1. If you’ve ever been to Kansai(Osaka and environs)in the past few years you might have noticed a distinct preference for trousers over skirts and dresses. It’s been this way ever since the Kobe quake of ’95. I think that high heels are always popular around here, but I’m pleased to see that pretty flat-heeled pumps are coming into fashion as well. I especially love the ones with the flower in place of the buckle!

    By the way, since a long time ago I can always spot the Tokyo/Kanto lady-tourists by their quiet, low-key fashion sense. Sometimes they look downright conservative. They have lovely manners, too. So much for Tokyo being a hotbed of fashion rebellion.


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