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.
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.