Posts Tagged ‘fashion’

The bags that came from another dimension

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

Maybe it was inevitable that the country that made manga world-famous would fall for a bag that looks like it was peeled out of the pages of a comic book. JumpFromPaper‘s whimsical bags (above), with their eye-fooling primary color blocks and heavy outlines, jumped up the ranks of trending topics on Twitter in Japan last week under the keyword “2-D bag.” The burst of attention coincided with TV personality Terry Itoh introducing the line on the mid-day variety show “Sukkiri!!” The bags’ designers are based in Taiwan, and though there are many retail outlets carrying the bags there, in Japan they are only available online for now.

Mihara Hideaki’s bags have a slightly more serious lineage. The designer’s bio says he studied leathercraft in Florence, but it’s not his leather work that’s getting second glances for some of his latest bags. The (variously spelled) Trompe L’oeil bags have belts and buckles, leather tassels and decorative chains printed onto canvas bodies. The great big buckles may not be fooling anyone, but the thinner faux straps look convincing, and the silk scarves printed on the sides of some look like they could flutter right off.

Acrylic designer Masako Ban takes that feeling of slightly retro whimsy and goes in the opposite direction. While JumpFomPaper makes 3-D bags that look flat, Ban uses holographic lenticular material on some of her messenger bags and handbags that gives their flat surfaces a disorientingly three-dimensional and rather futuristic look.

You don’t need to spend a lot to get in on the eye-fooling action, though — just get into the check-out line at Isetan. Brain magazine reports that the venerable department store, which has long had distinctive plaid paper shopping bags,  has also added a paper bag with a photo-realistic print covering it that makes it look like a wicker basket. The bag is for purchases from their food shops.

Why all the trickery? Maybe it’s a way to play with luxe designs at a budget price. Or maybe people just want to make you look twice.

Fukulog shares its looks with Asia

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Focusing on Asian cities, Fukulog World Snap was launched this month

Don’t you hate it when you’ve created that perfect look, but apart from parading yourself up and down the boulevard, you’ve got no one to show it off to? How are you to know if your ensemble is spot on or way off target? Social fashion site Fukulog provides a solution. Every day 70 to 100 users post their look on the website for other users to see, comment on and approve of. The site, which was launched late 2009 in Japan, is now so popular that the company behind the project is set to launch the concept on the global stage.

Since Fukulog launched its Facebook page in February this year Honey Entertainment, which manages Fukulog, noticed that the site was making waves overseas. In a recent press release the company announced that over 67,000 of their Facebook fans were foreigners (at the time of writing the total number of fans of the page was 70,257). Reacting to this popularity the company launched Fukulog World Snap on July 15. Initially focusing on Singapore, Taipei, Shanhai and Hong Kong, Fukulog has recruited fashionistas from those city’s to upload portraits of trendy types spotted out and about.

Despite the fact that the Facebook page currently caters to foreign fans by including posts in English, phrases like “to share your favorite fashion coordinates” suggest that they’ve got a ways to go before they become a truly international site. Fukulog’s main site is currently only accessible in Japanese, but Honey Entertainment is aiming to provide the service in English and Chinese by September this year.

So, what’s so great about this service that gives it the potential to go global? As opposed to other street-fashion sites, it doesn’t have invisible arbiters telling users what’s hot or not. All users can vote freely and upload their own looks freely. Furthermore, users post info about where they purchased clothes and the site easily links to those stores’ websites. The site, which allows you to browse via brand ranking, is also a good barometer of what’s trending now on the streets of Japan.

Come all ye hoarders and swappers

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

Brother, can you spare some shoes? Japanese men are being encouraged to swap their shoes via a new online service called 4 Jigen (Dimension) Closet, which launched this month. To register, men simply upload information about a pair of shoes they’re willing to loan out and once that’s done, they can borrow a “new” pair of shoes from an online collection of secondhand shoes for a small fee. The fee, which usually comes to around ¥525, covers a cleaning service and postage.

Before you borrow some shoes, simply register a pair of your own

For those who like to keep in step with the latest styles, the concept definitely has an upside: Puma, Lanvin and YSL are just some of the brand names already available. And if you’re worried about using other people’s whiffy shoes, be assured that the cleaning process is pretty thorough: The company behind the scheme, 1K, sticks the shoes in a washing machine, scrub ’em with a toothbrush, buff them and deodorize them before finally putting in new insoles.

According to Fashion Snap, the idea was the winner of a competition sponsored by Skylight Consulting which is aimed at encouraging the start-ups of twentysomethings. If it’s successful, 1K  intends to expand the service to include other clothing items. But will today’s fastidious male be willing to swap shoes with a complete stranger?

One good indication for the future fortunes of 4 Jigen Closet is that the economic downturn seems to have made the Japanese less squeamish about buying secondhand clothing. A recent article in The Japan Times reported that secondhand book store Book Off are now expanding into the clothes market and sales of secondhand apparel on online store Rakuten are taking off.

The concept of getting something for next to nothing is also at work on Livlis, a site on which you can acquire other stuff for free (if you’re willing to pay delivery charge at the other end). A beta version of the Twitter-powered site went live in December last year. Originally set up for residents of Kawasaki City last year, the site now offers its services nationwide. At post time, electronic gadgets, video games, textbooks and an Ikea desk were among the items on offer. If you have clutter, it certainly beats paying the haikibutsu shori guys. Be warned that people also tweet stuff they want to sell on the site, so make sure the item you’re after is flagged 無料 (free) before you send off a message.

Trends in Japan 2010: yama boom

Monday, December 20th, 2010

The phrases “yama girl” and “power spot” both appeared in Jiyu Kokuminsha’s list of the year’s popular Japanese expressions, reflecting the fact that during 2010 Japan’s hills were alive with hordes of young female hikers. These women, attracted by the promise of powering up on spiritual energy, while sporting fashionable threads, were dubbed yama gaaru (mountain girls) by the media and have fueled what’s been called the yama boom.

Yama girls united

Yama girls unit

Companies have been quick to cash in on the trend. Alpine-wear makers have  rolled out new lines with the stylin’ hiker in mind. Hotel Nikko in Nara is unveiled a yama girl plan, offering a discount for female hiking groups. Yama girls also have their very own magazine called Randonnée, which features articles on mountain fashion as well as the more practical aspects of hiking.

When they hit the countryside trails mountain girls wear sensible footwear and bright leggings coupled with cute short skirts. Some like this look so much that they wear it out in Tokyo’s concrete jungle.

Some  alpinists have said, however, that the city streets is where novice hikers should stay. The veterans’ warnings about the volatile weather conditions of Japan’s rugged mountains were proven right a couple of months ago when a group of young hikers got stuck on Mount Sawaguchi  in Kawanehoncho, Shizuoka Prefecture. According to Sankei News, the group of two women and three men were on a yamakon (mountain climbing group blind date), when a sudden change in the weather made them lose their way. Having no map nor compass, they were unable to find their way back to the relatively easy hiking course. Fortuntately, they were rescued two days after they went missing.

If only they had had Mapion’s new cell-phone 3D maps, which went on the market on Oct. 27, just a couple of days before they set off on their hike. The CG-illustrated maps, made to appeal to a younger generation of climbers, are reported to be visually stunning and give the user an easy-to-navigate view of the terrain.

Beautiful scenery is not the only pull of mountain climbing. Another attraction is the power spot, places that are purported to posses large amounts of spiritual energy. Earlier this year we wrote about the increasing growth of this trend and the publishing boom in books about power spots.

According to an article published yesterday in the Yomiuri Online, the power-spot trend shows no sign of abating and large numbers of young visitors continue to visit famous sites in search of enlightenment. While it’s now getting a bit too cold to hike up Japan’s mountains to gather spiritual energy, other urban power spots, such as Meiji Shrine, are still enjoying healthy numbers of visitors.

Charismatic shop assistants are back in style

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

Shop assistant Ainyan updates her cell phone blog every day with exhaustive details about her diet, hair style, makeup and clothes. To the uninitiated, Ainyan’s blog, illustrated with blurry shots of her hugging friends in purikura photo booth or looking up cutely into the camera, looks amateurish, almost as if it were made for a limited audience of friends only. But Ainyan is somewhat of a celebrity in the world of keitai (cell-phone) blogging. Last week her blog was the No. 1 cell-phone blog on Crooz, a mobile blog portal aimed at young women, and next month her makeup secrets will be disclosed in a cosmetics magazine.

Ainyan' cell phone blog

Ainyan' cell phone blog

According to J-Cast, Ainyan’s popularity is an indication that the trend of kyarizuma teiin (charismatic shop assistant) is back. The trend first surfaced over a decade ago when attractive shop assistants in exclusive stores began to gain celebrity status. These new celebrities were often featured in fashion magazines, dishing out beauty and fashion advice. The trend resulted in customers visiting stores to get a glimpse of these retail idols and often sales of whatever outfit their icon was wearing at the time. It was great business for the stores and some clerks made names for themselves. According to Tokyo Kawaii, the success of charisma teiin Yoko Morimoto lead to a book and the launch of her own fashion brand.

This time, however, the trend is driven by cell-phone blogs, which are commute-friendly. The reason why girls are so interested in Ainyan’s blog, rather than those of her contemporaries, is that she works at the Wakatsuki Chinatsu concession in the teen paradise of Shibuya 109, which puts her at the pinnacle of gyaru style. She’s not the only one enjoying celebrity status, another 109 shop assistant called Morimayu, who again works in 109 (for TutuHA), is also highly regarded as a teen style icon and has appeared in fashion magazines such as Popteen.

The charm of the blogs for young girls is that they can relate on a personal level to both Morimayu and Ainyan. Morimayu has a rant about periods in one post while Ainyan discusses her body image issues with disarming frankness: “I think I’ve lost weight around my stomach and a little around my calves but my butt is still a problem!!!”

Both girls are working their newly found fame for all it’s worth, and it’s pretty obvious from reading the blogs that there’s some none-too-subtle product placement going on. Considering the fact that these girls work long hours for not a lot of pay, it’s hard to begrudge them for milking their new celebrity status to the fullest.

Fortysomething women roll back time with kawaii style

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

Glow magazine advocates the kawaii otona look

Glow magazine advocates the kawaii otona look

When are you too old for ribbon pattern tights, furry leg warmers, high heels and sparkly frocks? Late 20s? Early 30s? According to “Glow” magazine, launched last month, women are free to boldly wear these kind of fashions well into their 40s. The front cover of the magazine’s first issue shows one model wearing a short silver lamé dress while the other sports some fake-fur, leopard-print leggings tied at the side with a cute ribbon. The look has been dubbed otona kawaii (adult cute) and it’s been catching on in a big way over the past few years.

The idea is not to religiously copy fashions aimed at a younger market, but to carefully tone down bolder fashions while still maintaining a youthful sense of fun. The editor of Glow states on that they conducted interviews with women in their 40s about fashion before the launch and found out that these ladies were not only interested in brand-name items, but were also keen to buy trendier fast-fashion items. Therefore Glow will be featuring high-class brands such as Hermès and Gucci alongside cheaper fast-fashion names like H&M.

The sexy bold look of Glow closely resembles the teenage gyaru fashions that can be found at stores such as Shibuya’s 109. Indeed, according to Tokyo Kawaii, there are now organized shopping tours for women in their 40s who want to peruse the glittering aisles of 109 together. While embarrassed to shop in the teen paradise alone, the women feel they can shake off their shame in a group.

Continue reading about otona kawaii in Japan →

Snoods a hot item for both women and canines

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

This year the demand for snoods (スヌード), not to be confused with retro hair nets, has become so high among women that a department store in Okayama is experiencing a shortage of the headgear. In August the store stocked a range of over 500 snoods priced between ¥5,000 to ¥10,000, but supplies are already running low due to the high demand from female customers. Yomiuri Online reports that Daimaru department store in Marunouchi, Tokyo, is also doing a brisk trade in snoods, selling about 40 a week to a clientele of mature women aged 30 to 50. Both woolen and furry varieties are popular in a range of different lengths and all options tie in well with this year’s trend for Nordic fashion.

While the trend shows some resemblance to the snoods worn on last year’s Western catwalks, what Japanese women are actually wearing is more of an evolved take on the classic snood. The loose scarf-like material is sewn in a circle, ready to be wrapped around the head or neck several times. What is known as a snood in the West is actually called a neck warmer (ネックウォーマー) here, we know, it’s super confusing!

Snoods are also popular with dogs but the canine snood is, again, different, being closer to an elasticated head-band used to keep long ears back when eating dinner, keeping dogs warm and as a cute fashion accessory when out for a walk. According to a pet store owner interviewed by Sanyo Shinbun, sales of snoods for dogs have quadrupled since dogs began to don the headgear three years ago. For a look at the range of styles on offer, check out the selection at Rakuten. We especially dig this cute watermelon dog snood in the video above. Ahhhh kawaiii.

Who let the dog boom get out of control?

Monday, November 9th, 2009


Japan’s pet population has grown by over 9 million in the last 10 years. Cats figure into the equation, but it’s the present “dog boom” that gets the most attention, with the spotlight shining on more and more services available for Japan’s canine lovers. In addition to clothing lines and custom-made birthday cakes, dog owners can now keep a memento of their deceased four-legged friend after their death, in what now marks a complete cradle-to-grave cycle.

What’s not mentioned as frequently is how the grave-end of this cycle presents itself to many unwanted pets. Some estimates show that over 300,000 dogs a year are now being put down around the country. There is no simple answer as to why so many pets are abandoned, or even bought in the first place, although it has been argued that Japan’s love of cute and the difficulties of raising children play a role.

Continue reading about the pet boom →


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