Sweet Magazine The best selling women’s magazine in Japan



Sweet Magazine Introduction

Since I’ve decided to talk about Japanese women’s popular fashion it’d be crazy of me to ignore Sweet magazine. By a landslide Sweet magazine is the best selling women’s magazine in Japan. Sweet (スウィート website) magazine started in 1999 is published by Takara Jimasha (株式会社宝島社). It costs 760 yen currently and comes with a present each issue. The magazine has ruled female tastes since 2010 and shows no signs of stopping.

Sweet magazine’s motto is “28 歳、一生”女の子”宣言” 28 is still a girl! Or often “一生女の子宣言” meaning I’m a girl for my whole life. It was founded on an Otona Kawaii base and still reigns as the queen of Otona Kawaii.

Otona Kawaii simply means adult cute and is a style format of casual girly looks that aren’t too youthful nor are they too sexy or conservative. The motekei / Otona Kawaii overlap is pretty strong. However Otona Kawaii mentality comes from “self” wanting to look cute for yourself, not to please another. Full description coming up in Japanese fashion terms part 2.

Sweet magazine represents what is most popular in mainstream Japanese women’s fashion. It’s targeted towards 25-30 range, but in reality it has a huge readership from 18 years to late 30s.


Sweet Magazine Chief models:

The chief models for Sweet magazine are well known beyond just the magazine. They appear on tv commercials, variety shows, dramas and product placements.

Rola – ローラ – 24 year old – former Vivi model, style maven, and big seller (English article on her)
Saeko – 紗栄子 – 27 year old – model and talent, previously married to Yu Darvish
Hinano Yoshikawa – 吉川ひなの – 34 year old – longtime model

and recently graduated Rinka – 梨花 – 41 year old – model / icon

Their supporting cast of models features mostly women in their late 20s (Alice, Kana Ooya) and early 30s (Coco Kinoshita).


The real motto of the magazine should be “Treat Yo Self!” because it claims to be for women in their 20s and 30s who aren’t afraid to spend a little. Since women are getting married later and later in Japan its led to an independence of women post college and before marriage that are living for themselves. This is the magazine capitalizing on this popular group of women.   The magazine almost completely ignores the working side of 25 year old life and onwards as if Sweet provides the distraction of work wear and life.






Post Gal magazine group

Sweet has also been labeled with a group of magazines as Post Gal (ポストギャル). The others being Vivi, Glamorous, Gossips and Glitter. The readers of these magazines enjoy copying the styles inside the magazines and don’t mind following trends. Their goal is to dress Otona Kawaii and stylish. Their friends dress similarly. Their focus in more on girlfriends, not boys (not motekei). The magazines often feature half models (half Japanese half another race), such as Rola (Sweet) and Fujii Lena (Vivi) and the readers are dedicated fans of these exclusive models. They’re also interested in celebrities overseas and their style. Magazines such as Sweet and Vivi also bring in young girls as readers.


Sweet using overseas celebrities showing off the crossbody mini-bag trend

Sweet Magazine contents and High-Medium Mix

Sweet and Vivi magazines have similar layouts and brands shared. Sweet focuses on a bit more girly and more mid-brand overseas brands.


Sweet like Vivi magazine often starts out with a fashion story spread featuring former gyaru icon 36 year old Jpop singer Namie Amuro. While Vivi features other former gyaru icon 35 year old Jpop singer Ayumi Hamasaki.  Namie Amuro is often seen gracing covers and spreads inside Sweet.

High-Mid Style

Sweet’s fashion focus can be titled a High-Mid Otona Kawaii style



Sweet’s tribute to the season’s collection of high brand accessories by Gucci, Chanel, Prada, Miu Miu and YSL usually in each issue. High brand shoes and bags often take the first few pages of the magazine.


The magazine also focuses on overseas brands that are mid-range priced. Marc by Marc Jacobs, See by Chloe, 3.1 by Phillip Lim, Jill by Jill Stuart


These are then mixed with popular mid-range 20s-30s Japanese brands like Snidel, GVGV, Mercury Duo, and Rose Bud.

This mix isn’t really traditional high-low with a Chanel tossed over a Forever 21 top, instead it’s living your life on a 20-30 year old budget of nicer things. #treatyoself


Sweet occasionally does budget sections, but they’re not the main focus of the magazine.

Sweet Trendcasting

Sweet magazine uses two ways to trendcast for upcoming seasons.


The traditional Japanese magazine way of showing it on a model.

Sweet’s forecast of this year’s fall trends: check aka plaid and gingham


The overseas style of showing runway collections like they did for their Spring trendcast.


Sweet also is traditonally Japanese in the way it does street snaps. It dokusha models (reader models) for their street snap of floral print.

Sweet Make-up and Hairstyles


Sweet make-up for an office style that is still “Otona Kawaii”

Just like Sweet magazine’s High-medium approach to clothing the same price range for make-up. They also use a mix of overseas and Japanese brands for make-up.

Overseas brands such as MAC, Chanel, Dior

But also Japanese brands like Les Merveilleuses de Ladurée, Visala, and Majolica Majorca.


Compared to gyaru magazines their hair and make-up tips are quite simple and they focus more on quality of product and small steps.

Eyelashes are occasional, but eyelash extensions are also very common for readers.

Sweet Theme and Layout


A collection of Sweet magazine covers from a recent event.

Sweet isn’t Akamojikei or Motekei

Sweet has gone against the Akamoji-kei magazine trend that was extremely popular especially around 2007. Unlike the Motekei boom that made CanCam and others rise to fame in the 2005-2008, Sweet isn’t about that.

CanCam has often been thought of as a magazine to read in your college years as you make the ascent into womanhood and catching your husband. How to look attractive doing so. What’s the best way to be conservative and just pretty enough. That concept feels more and more outdated which is one of the reasons Akamojikei readership dropped (along with the abandonment of popular models).

Sweet instead has subtly captured the market instead in two ways:  I think Sweet has captured the problematic thoughts of many 25-40 year olds. What is adulthood? How can I still enjoy myself? When does cuteness stop? The magazine has also tapped into the joy of being 25-40. Buying what you want, taking vacations, getting your own place, answering only to yourself. Compared to Akamojikei, Postgal magazines are outright feminist.

Sweet’s layout focuses on clean

sweet-layout-flareskirt sweet-layout-offshoulder

Sweet focuses rarely on a background if it ever has any. Instead the layout is a lot of white and crisp photos of the clothing. If there’s a background, the clothing makes a large appearance. The pages are mostly white and English often used as a decoration as much as a font.


 Sweet’s own reasons for being number 1

Sweet’s readership has steadily grown in the 2000s. In 2008 it was 11th best selling and moved to the best selling in 2010.


Sweet’s unbelieveable rocket ascent to the top

Sweet publishers thinks this success is for several reasons.

1. They had a popular bus tour that went from bookstore to bookstore to get people and booksellers hyped about the magazine. Which made many booksellers place “Sweet” in front of others”. Publishers in Japan have a 12cm rule which means magazines stacked up around each other you will only see 12cm and above so you should concentrate on that (see picture below). Instead Sweet’s publisher wanted to move the whole magazine to the front of the buyer’s view and focus on making sure that happened in bookstores across Japan.

2. They lowered the cost of the magazine and replaced the revenue with more ads and product tie-ins inside.

3. They include special freebies inside each edition. One notable one was a face roller supposedly retailing at 2,900 yen, far above the 700 yen price of the magazine. They had to do two reprints of that issue. The YSL pouch sold 1,000,000 issues and the kitson bag sold 1,500,000 issues.


Inside a Kobe bookstore. Japanese publishers of magazines not in front only have 12cm to sell you on their magazine.


source: yoshimoto news | keieikikaku-shitsu/ | ifs | livedoor


Sweet has stayed number one magazine for 2 years and while that title can easily fall, its sister magazine for older women “In Red” is the second best selling magazine right now so the style is showing no signs of slowing down. However with the recent departure of superstar Rinka, it’ll be interesting to see how Rola, Saeko and Hinano hold down the fort.

On a side note: I’ve decided to lump these all together in the gyaru university tag. And expand it further just to a Japanese fashion university. Need more Japanese fashion learning? Head onto the Japanese Fashion University tag.  :up:


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  1. August 26, 2014 / 2:18 pm

    Thanks again for another great post! Very informative

    • Mitsu
      August 27, 2014 / 11:15 pm

      Glad you liked it! Thanks for always reading <3

  2. Anna
    August 26, 2014 / 5:37 pm

    Loved it!! Thanks for the post. Sweet has been crazily popular in the last few years. In my opinion, what made the magazine absolutely huge was Rinka (it’s crazy how her popularity lasted super strongly for years. She’s been consistently popular ever since 2007 and her popularity gets bigger and bigger) and the Cher totebag freebie/trend that swiped Japan in 2008/2009. I think they (alongside Rinka) were also one of the reasons Miu Miu and Chloe are so strong in Japan right now.

    Now that Rinka moved over to Otona Muse, it remains to be seen if Sweet will remain strong. I think it will cause it seems like they’re betting everything on Saeko and she seems really popular with the new wave of girls. If I were them, I’d also focus on Haruna Kojima cause, judging by Instagram, she is the strongest current “fashion icon” for 20-something girls.

    Keep up the good work and thank you very much for the informative posts!

    • Mitsu
      August 27, 2014 / 11:21 pm

      Cher was so crazy big as a status thing and I never understood it. Lol. I agree I think high brands really marketed themselves well in the second wave of prosperity past the original intro of celine, ysl, lv and such.

      It really makes me scratch my head about why publishers completely ignore the success of their magazine tied to models. I do wonder how Sweet will handle the post Rinka period.

      It’s seemed to me like they’re pushing Rola with her Rola spread and Rola life page in the front part of the magazine. And guys talk about how her buriko act is so cute. Again a headscratcher to me.

      Sweet took the throne from Non no but I really wonder how long they’ll keep it. The fight for readers in a land of internet seems to make magazine publishing so much more vicious to succeed in.

  3. August 26, 2014 / 10:27 pm

    I only ever bought sweet magazine because of the freebie marc jacobs pouches and goodies coming with it, and ignored the insides for the most part, because it always seemed a little boring to my 2009-self, but now the design of the pages you used to introduce the magazine really appealed to me, with the cleanliness of the lines and the slightly playful photography …….I maybe need to pick up a copy later!

    • Mitsu
      August 27, 2014 / 11:22 pm

      I feel the same way. Although I wish they could jazz up the outfits a bit more I think their layout is refreshing and clean :)

  4. KC
    August 26, 2014 / 11:24 pm

    Rinka is 41?!?!?!?

    • Mitsu
      August 27, 2014 / 11:14 pm

      Amazing, right?! I’ll have what she’s having XD

  5. August 27, 2014 / 6:49 am

    I never cared for the style that was in Sweet because it often felt a bit too boring for me, but I love that they are catering to an “older” audience and preach “women dress cute for themselves”. That’s fantastic!

    • Mitsu
      August 27, 2014 / 11:23 pm

      Agreed! Even if just a little bit they are fighting the traditional motekei it makes me happy :)

  6. August 27, 2014 / 9:35 am

    I have a similar opinion to Suteisi – I find the outfits a little bland (some are cute but generally I want to see more layering and details), and the amount of ads plus all the brands I have no interest in generally kept me away from Sweet. But I do really like their message of staying cute after 25, dressing for yourself, and the models.

    • Mitsu
      August 27, 2014 / 11:26 pm

      Agreed! I like the brands they use some of the time but knowing their collections can be much more creative than presented gets me down a bit. I’m happy though they are getting out of that super strict 15-18 yr olds dress like this 18-25 dress like this 25-30 like this 30 and onwards have a tunic.

  7. August 28, 2014 / 5:51 pm

    Sweet is a very important magazine, I feel. Even though it might not be everyone’s tastes, it does appeal to those who need it. There’s no such thing as cute having an age limit, and it preaches that well. It’s something, like youth, that you can feel on and on well into your adult years. Teaches you not to be afraid with expressing yourself into and out of your mid-20s. Also! That life isn’t just about finding and snagging a mate. You’ve to do things for yourself too, and there’s no reason to be ashamed of that. I can appreciate any magazine that sends women such important messages.

    • Mitsu
      September 3, 2014 / 8:32 pm

      I definitely agree!

  8. August 29, 2014 / 7:42 am

    Another excellent post! I’ve learnt a lot. ^^

    • Mitsu
      September 3, 2014 / 8:32 pm

      Yay! I’m glad you liked :)

  9. August 29, 2014 / 8:40 pm

    I’m in love with your new article series on magazine. Thanks for always being a reliable source for Japanese fashion.

    • Mitsu
      September 3, 2014 / 8:28 pm

      Thank you for reading!! I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog :)

  10. Rowena
    August 31, 2014 / 5:24 pm

    Hi mistu, great post! Just wanted to ask if you knew about what happened to Happie Nuts mag? Tbh, I felt like it was the best east meets west fusion magazine for college/post grad gals who liked clubbing and glamorous type of style. I was a dedicated follower until a few months ago my bookseller told me the company had bankrupted. I’m terribly sad about it, and came here hoping to find insight.

    If you’ve addressed it already I’m sorry it’s tough to navigate this site on mobile! Thanks! :)

  11. October 11, 2014 / 6:05 pm

    Ahhh, I will definitely be checking this magazine out whenever the next time that I stop at Kinokuniya! It definitely fits my own motto because lolita fashion is all about “treating yo self” and it seems like the styles inside have a great muted girly tone for everyday life.

  12. Beurk
    March 7, 2015 / 5:17 pm


  13. Lulu
    August 7, 2015 / 10:59 am

    What about compared to magazines like Elle or Vogue? Sweet beats all of them?

    • Mitsu
      August 8, 2015 / 10:50 am

      In Japan yes according to sales data.

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