What does Japanese fashion mean to you? Do you picture Gyaru or Lolita? Mori and Mori-o? Or do you immediately think of Cosplay? Countries from all over the world are beginning to take notice of the Japanese fashion industry and there are many attempting to recreate their favorite style.
Photo by tokyofashion
However, it is unrealistic to imagine everyone in Japan walking around Tokyo or Osaka dressed liked a Gyaru. Here is a brief rundown of some popular everyday Japanese clothing brands that are sold internationally.
A Bathing Ape and Billionaire Boys Club
Nagao 'Nigo' Tomoaki founded A Bathing Ape, or BAPE, in the early 1990’s when he began creating his own unique clothes for the underground scene in Harajuku. The name is derived from a Japanese saying, 'an ape bathing in lukewarm water,' and is a reference to the current status of today’s youth.
The Japanese are known for their love of soaking in a bath with a temperature of 40°C. Youth bathing in lukewarm water represents their comfortable manner of living and overindulging (e.g. spending too much time in the bath).
The first BAPE store was opened in Harajuku back in 1993 and currently has stores in England, China, and the United States. BAPE’s Japanese Underground and unique flashy style have gained the attention of famous Hip-Hop celebrities such as Jay-Z and Pharrell Williams. In fact, Pharrell Williams was such a big fan of BAPE, he later collaborated with Nigo to help create and launch Billionaire Boys Club.
The Billionaire Boys Club’s style is similar to BAPE but focuses more on the baggy, loose-fitting hip-hop and street style with bold and unique patterns and colors. However, Billionaire Boys Club’s popularity has been slow due to legal problems in production.
Founded in 2001, Graniph was based on the idea of bringing Western-Style T-shirt to Japan. A unique aspect of Graniph is their ability to continuously produce new designs throughout the year. They accomplish this by two main strategies.
First, Graniph only creates about 30% of the designs put on their products, while the remaining 70% is derived from other Japanese designers, international artists, and collaborations.
Second, each design is only printed in limited supply and reprints are rarely made. These strategies apply pressure to continuously discover designers with new and fresh ideas.
Graniph only has additional stores in Taiwan, China, and Australia, but there is an online store where purchases can be made and items are shipped internationally.
Photo by Dicky
A personal favorite of mine, Uniqlo has more than 760 locations and is one of the 10 largest chains in the world. Uniqlo’s style focuses on the casual wear at affordable prices, and was first opened by Ogori Shouji in 1984. As its popularity began to grow, Uniqlo followed clothing mega-company
The Gap in adopting a ‘SPA’ (Specialty store of Private Apparel) strategy in 1997. This meant that Uniqlo would design, produce, and sell its own merchandise exclusively. By eliminating the middleman, Uniqlo has been able to keep their prices low without sacrificing quality.
Uniqlo’s 760 stores are currently located in New York, the UK, France, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Korea.
These three stores only scratch the surface of what Japan has to offer in the world of fashion. A great aspect of Japan is their abundance of small stores and boutiques, which allow an individual to buy one-of-a-kind products to create a new personalized style. Just remember to check the size conversion charts to ensure that you get clothes that fit!
What is your favorite subculture of Japanese fashion? Have you been able to successfully mimic a style with products you find in your own neighborhood?