There is a lot of vintage luxury goods in Japan and to understand why you must look at the history and meteoric rise of the Japanese luxury market. I’ve written about the rise of luxury brands in Japan in my Japanese fashion history terms post, but here’s a little more of their history. If you like history, luxury brands, quirky fashion info settle in because it’s so much text. This is a Japanese Fashion University  and Vintage Luxury Brand in Japan series combining!

Luxury Brands in Japan through the Decades

 

Post War Japan – The Rise of the Middle Class and the desire for Western Luxury

There have always been wealthy people in Japan, but Post War Japan created a more middle class which turned to luxury goods. While luxury items such as real estate and cars were not especially practical or accessible in Japan, especially in Tokyo. Middle class looked to Western luxury like jewelry, clothing, handbags and furs as a way to display their new wealth.

“Unfortunately, there was little to be had in Japan; distribution was extremely limited. To satisfy the surge in demand, entrepreneurial Japanese merchants traveled to Europe, bought items at full retail price, shipped them back to Japan, and sold them for more than three or four times more in shops around Tokyo, creating what is known as a parallel market.  The parallel market cofounded luxury executives back in Europe: their flagship stores were getting cleaned out stock, and they had no control over how their product was being sold overseas.” (Deluxe)

Side note: Chanel and other brands try to track and ban third-party resellers like this even today.

chanel-1990-japan

 

 

1970s Luxury Brands in Japan – Trying to meet Demand in a Harsh Trade Environment

In the 1970s only a few overseas luxury brands has broken into the Japanese market. Even though the Japanese were very into luxury brand goods before they ever hit the Japanese shores. In 1976 Louis Vuitton in Paris had to put a limit on the amount of goods sold to a Japanese tourist because they couldn’t handle the stock.

Only a few luxury brands were actually in Japan at the time. Gucci, Hermes and Loewe were currently selling to the Japanese public. This was because to operate a large corporation like a luxury house you had to team up with a Japanese company to do business in Japan. This is a part of trade regulations in Japan. Slowly in the 1970s there was small deregulations (all over the globe there was vast deregulations going on) but despite that Japan was conservative and only allowed foreign businesses to own 50% of a company. This makes setting up in Japan not cost effective to luxury brands. Also Gucci and Hermes can put their name on the item, but they must pair up with a speciality or department store, using their manufacturing base. This was common also in US and Europe.

 

 

hermes-chocolate-bags

Edible luxury. Birkin Chocolates at the Hermes Cafe in Ginza

1980s Luxury Brands in Japan – The Biggest Consumer of Luxury in the World

The 1980s were filled with a boom in the luxury market known as manufacture of luxury brands through licensing. During this time brands such as Yves Saint Laurent and Gucci made everything from candles to handkerchiefs.

Side note: Some of these manufacturing for licensing contracts still exist like many brand sunglasses such as Chanel, Gucci and Prada. Or luxury brand perfumes is also another example. In Japan under handkerchiefs and hand towels you can buy Yves Saint Laurent and Vivienne Westwood goods not found in anywhere else because of this licensed manufacturing contract.

 

Side note: Louis Vuitton, Hermes and Chanel never agreed to these contracts in their clothing or jewelry making their vintage items more valuable.

 

The thunder crack boom of luxury spending in Japan was so big that after opening in 1978 Louis Vuitton sold more in Japan than it did with its two stores in France. There were 6 stores in Japan compared to the two in France. That number grew to 44 in 2012.

Fun fact: The first Chanel and Louis Vuitton individual stores came to Japan first before the United States (both had previously used contracts with big department stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman). If you see a tag sewn into a Chanel blouse that says Saks Fifth Avenue it’s because of this department store contract.

Louis Vuitton opened in Japan in 1978 and Chanel in 1980. It was actually only due to Japanese vacationing in Hawaii did the first Chanel store opened in the United States in 1984. Louis Vuitton aggressively pushed into Japan in the 1980s.

The economic bubble burst around mid 90s during and a little after the bubble meant 1985-99 was really a true boom in luxury brands in Japan. A supernova of a boom that made Japan the biggest consumer of luxury goods from late 1980s to 2009.

Louis Vuitton built their first Ginza store in 1981 with the hopes of making a luxury street like the Fifth Avenue in the US, Saint Honore in Paris or Monte Napoleon in Milan. By the end of the 1980s twenty stand-alone brand stores opened in Ginza.

 

louisvuitton-osakaFlagship stores like Cartier and Louis Vuitton in Osaka

1990s Luxury Brands in Japan – Bubble Burst but still Strong

Even after the bubble burst in the 1990s some people still had money and brand allegiance had been built. The only growing purchasers were so called “Parasitic Singles” in Japan. These were working age (25-34) men and women who still lived with their parents and spent all their disposable money on luxury and travel.

“The major companies — Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Prada, Chanel, and Christian Dior — managed to secure dramatic growth during the mid-1990s, at a time when total import sales were falling.” (luxury society)

Louis Vuitton from one boutique in the 1990s was clearing 100 million USD in sales, while Chanel in another was doing 60 million. Louis Vuitton from 1978 to the end of the 90s had grown 50% in sales. (Deluxe)

At the end of the 1990s there was a stat thrown around that if you distributed all the Louis Vuitton in Japan to all the women that one in four women would own a Louis Vuitton good. Or another staggering statistic that 30 million Japanese own a Louis Vuitton good. This is despite the prices in Japan being 30-40% higher than in Europe due to import fees and currency exchange rates. (Cult of the Luxury Brand)

 

 

louisvuitton-japan

 

Luxury Brands 2000s onwards – Slowing but still a Goliath

Despite the problems of the 1990s, Tokyo’s luxury area Ginza saw its first “mega flagship store” of 11 floors with Hermes in 2001. The 2000s were the age of “mega flagship stores” being built in Ginza. Chanel and Louis Vuitton followed in Hermes’ footsteps.

Flagship was they key in 2000 and just fifteen years ago Omotesando was changed from a family neighborhood near the Meji shrine into a stylish hub of stand-alone luxury stores. Louis Vuitton opened in 2002, Prada in 2003, Dior in 2004 and finally the stylish Omotesando Hills luxury mall in 2006. All of these Omotensando developments were being planned in the 1990s, it was thanks to the Parasite Singles and bubble leftovers that Omotensando came into fruition.

Even now Omotesando is considered the place were younger luxury men and women shop, while Ginza is for the older clientele. Even though both were only built twenty years apart.

The youth luxury has also brought contemporary brands into the surrounding neighborhood of Aoyama with stand alone stores. Acne Studios, Alexander Wang and Jil Sander.

Side note: These luxury stand-alone stores have been sited as a reason department stores are going bankrupt recently. Department stores that have brand shops inside them charge rent for the space, but also take a percentage of the profits of the sales. Luxury brands sell big ticket items so this is big money. Being inside a department store makes brand shops not have to pay for costs such as construction, land, or upkeep but in the long run its not cost effective to pay rent AND a percentage when you can build your own and keep all of that money.

In the late 2000s there were finally signs of slowing of luxury. Some brands are projected to see 15 to 30 percent drops in their Japanese revenue base for fiscal 2008 (luxury society). But even then before Japan dropped to number two behind China, Japan accounted for 40% of luxury goods sold worldwide. (Cult of The Luxury Brand)

Even now Japan is the second largest luxury market. China has risen to number one. Asia’s love for luxury makes it no coincidence that Chanel has shown three times in the last four years in Asia for the Métiers dArt  shows.

Japan’s current strength on number two has a lot to do with Chinese regulations and taxation on their goods so Chinese travel to Japan to make purchases with the cheap travel deals and weak Japanese yen. But it also has a lot to do with the history of Japanese luxury. Your mother had a Louis Vuitton bag, you may want one too. Or it’s in the psyche now that overseas luxury is quality.

In only 30 years overseas luxury brands have really changed the Japanese spending habits.

 

 

vintage-osaka-store

Just as stocked as a flagship, a vintage store in Osaka selling Chanel

Currently Japan’s perfect vintage storm

Because of the huge booms of 1980 and 1990s of buying in Japan there is so much vintage luxury brand in Japan now. With the slowing in the local economy many Japanese are still looking at branded goods but on the cheaper resale market. Chinese tourism has also been a factor. All big vintage stores in Japan have at least one Chinese speaker on staff. The luxury vintage brand demand in Japan is so much that buyers for the vintage stores are visiting Paris auctions and resale shops and bringing goods into Japan as well. Which is why the Vintage Brand in Japan series is going on.

 

 

Shout outs and references

I linked to a few things I sourced but this article is very sourced by the book “Louis Vuitton Japan: The building of Luxury” which is out of print but I have in hardcover. The book is also sourced in most every article or book I found about luxury goods in Japan and for a good reason. It’s a bit dry, but very interesting. I also read but didn’t directly quote The Economist’s section of the Asian Luxury Market forecast in 2013.

Although I didn’t use it as a source it’s a perfect time to shout out one of my favorite fashion news blogs: Business of Fashion. If you’re interested in the fashion industry, especially high fashion it’s a wonderful resource.

 

Vintage Brand in Japan and Beyond

:bow: Intro to the Series

:bow: Where to Buy Vintage Brand online Worldwide (Japan concentrate)

:bow: Reasons I’m a Vintage Fan

:bow: A History of Luxury Brands in Japan (THIS ONE)

:bow:  Japan’s First Wave of Resellers

:bow: Japan’s Second Wave of Resellers store talks and reviews (multipost)

:bow: Popular Vintage Brands and key pieces from each brand (multipost)

:bow: Navigating on-line and in personal buying of Vintage Brand and learning market price (multipost)

:bow:  related eating at the Chanel restaurant Beige in Ginza Chanel

:bow:  possible… My full vintage Chanel collection

:bow:  possible… Chanel vintage jewelry and clothing authentication guide

 

 

Wow two months without a post? :heartbreak: I didn’t really expect to post while I was in Japan for a month. I usually forget sleeping then too. Then I got home and had a bunch of stuff to do and man’s parents visited and I actually made our place look nice instead of living in a great loft and my crap just piled inside. I really hate decorating. I think there’s a reason we lived on a mattress without a bedframe (which we now again have #adult) and used the money to travel instead. Balance. I also tried to do more ATL things. Almost a year in and it still feels ATLien (sorry for the wordplay Outkast). And I got back to daily working out, hahaha why. I shitpost a lot on snapchat, feel free to follow (metoomitsu) :smiley:

 

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I’ve repeatedly talked about the fall of Gyaru. I stated my reasons recently in the NeoGal post. And just in case you don’t feel like clicking back I’m going restate them. Now and then go back to discussing the reasons I’m writing a new article.

Reasons I feel gyaru has problems

:bow: Over mori, nails/hair/everything went too over the top and impossible to maintain. Tanning died. Even if you like it, the over mori people who kept up with it all started looking the same. Outrageous yet a bit boring.

:bow: The boom of 2007-2009 in gyaru created gyaru but many of them naturally calmed from that era and are moving towards something else. That can be Neogal, but it’s also mega popular Onee gyaru, Mode, or Street casual like Sly. Again all of the other choices than Neogal have many more stores and followers.

:bow: The growth of oraora, it’s a way to rebel without as much flashiness. No to mention Ora Ora and psy-trance (saike) go hand in hand which allows people to congregate at raves and music events without the problems of Shibuya.

:bow: The K-Pop boom is crazy in Japan as well as AKB48. The new highschoolers who could pick an aging Ayu or older Koda Kumi instead are going with the youth and fun of K-Pop and AKB48. Both which don’t promote gyaru.

:bow: Brands were too quick to change their individual style to promote the new hot trend. Soon mode clothing was at every store not just Emoda and Murua and brands started looking the same, Lip Service and Egoist now look like Murua. It ruins brand loyalty and individuality. The sweet dolly boom has created a lot of watered down Liz Lisa, Ank Rouge types like Adree, Secret Honey, recently bankrupted Ricori and more.

:bow: Shibuya has been dying since 2008. Dying because of the asshole fake policemen harassing gyaru since 2008. The popular Center-gai McDonalds closed early. Dancing was banned and clubs shrank. There became much less safe-space gathering places for lots of gyaru. Again and again older gyaru lament how Shibuya has died and keep saying “let’s go back” but without any real game plan or safe space.

 

And those are my reasons and I’m sticking to them.

However Tokyo Fashion tweeted this and it got me riled up again.

As it did several who are familar with gyaru fashion in Japan (shouts out to sutewi and Atashida).

Edit: Fashionsnap.com article on 2,000 people queueing up for Shibuya 109’s fukubukuro event this year. Last year’s post only talks about line length so it’s hard to compare.

Reasons I feel that tweet is suspect:

1) Shibuya 109 stopped equaling gyaru. My biggest complaint. Many big brands now how stores across Tokyo and it’s much easier for people to go to their closest store. Shibuya 109 is probably not it because it’s expensive to live in Shibuya or surrounding areas.

So even if you like a brand inside Shibuya 109 on a cold day you’re going to the one that’s less crowded. Liz Lisa even understood this and sent their LLGals to all over stores in Tokyo. They also didn’t offer a 109 special only fukubukuro like they did last year, only a special color way.

 

2) (As wonderfully pointed out by Atashida) Shibuya 109 is a crumbling old mall.

 

shibuya109-old

 

It was created in 1979 (photo source). Surely it’s a beacon of architecture and seen in many movies as how Tokyo looks, but it’s also a very old mall. It has gone very few renovations because its cylindrical design is limiting. It’s a very narrow mall and feels crowded even on a weekday. Sure the stores themselves go through renewals but the building itself has stayed the same.

On fukubukuro days it’s obscenely crowded. There’s only the option of two elevators and one escalator. For 8 floors that’s a very small amount.

 

It’s also badly lit

 

shibuya-109-stores-dance-by-lds sneak-garula-2

 

Aging tile and bad lights don’t help a lot of the stores.

 

3) Shinjuku Lumine EST has been getting all the big names and flashy stores. Shinjuku Lumine EST is directly to connected to Shinjuku station, the busiest rail station in Tokyo. It’s extremely convenient to get to for Western Tokyo dwellers.

Lumine EST has been a mall since the 60s however  it’s gone through so many renovations, the most recent being 2008. It’s also a very wide space and gyaru brands occupy the easy access stores that are floor level just outside the East Exit gates of JR Shinjuku station. Less than a minute after stepping outside a train you’re in at Rodeo Crowns without any weather to worry about.

 

rady-ladies-renewal

Rady during its renewal. Check out the open area walkways and well lit space.

 

Rady opened in Shinjuku Lumine EST in 2012. It made the news by making 39,800,000 yen on its first day combined with its webshop and 8,100,000 yen its first day in Shibuya Lumine EST.

To translate that to USD Rady made $81,000 in one opening day in Shinjuku Lumine EST at the exchange rate in 2012. In one day!

Rady currently reports profits from only its Shinjuku Lumine store as 60,000,000yen monthly. About $500k a month. From one store. It made newspaper articles. Including back in 2012 when it was known was the 150million yen in one month web brand. Or translated to $1,500,000 a month by 2012 standards. Yup 1.5 million dollars, one webstore one brand.

Sister brand for petite clothing Michell Macaron made 5,100,000 yen on its first day also in Shinjuku Lumine EST.

Even though both founders are ex-Ageha models which is tied to gyaru.  They opened it near the hostess quarters in Kabukicho. The more Ageha-centric area of Tokyo. Shibuya 109 wasn’t on her radar. Rady only decided to do a pop-up shop in Shibuya 109 once for a Hello Kitty event last year.

Both brands are part of the Agejo lifestyle promoters, the thing often discussed as a dying movement.

Coincidentally Lumine EST has cheaper rents than Shibuya 109. That must drive a lot of brands away from Shibuya 109. Shinjuku Lumine EST also houses brands that may be too old for the younger Shibuya 109 crowd, but the aging Oneegyaru can also buy and mix into their wardrobes. Like Honey Salon by Foppish or Lily Brown or Mercury Duo. It’s another reason someone may choose to flock to Lumine over 109.

When people tell me gyaru is dying I tell them the Onee brands aren’t hurting. Rienda, Datura, Rady, and the like are all still being loved by an aging set of gyaru that still have money. You tell me if making $81,000 is in one day is dead. Rady is clearing house and ex-Ageha model Shizuka Mutoh herself founded it. The aging gyaru is where gyaru brands should be looking.

 

4) The rise of on-line shopping. Who wants to wait in line for a fukubukuro when you can order them all online. Weeks before they come out. Brands have all recognized this and that’s why there’s been such good online fukubukuro sales, through big markets like runway channel, fashionwalker, mobacolle and Shibuya109’s own net shop. They’re still getting the profits and don’t have to as heavily staff their stores which means less overhead. Meaning brands are making more money if they do it online. You think they don’t realize this??

While brands I have no doubt understand that the well dressed and clever shop staff sell more merchandise, they know most buyers in early January are only heading to a store for one thing: fukubukuro.

 

5) I’m damn sick of gyaru being a target when its just a symptom. Reporters are so quick to point out the problems of gyaru fashion to the lagging Shibuya 109 sales, the magazines shutting (previously discussed) or the closing of brands (more on this later). Instead there should be a much broader talk about how teen fashion brands are hurting in Japan and brands in general.

 

I’m confident many lolita brands are holding on because of

1 – An aging commited audience who can still afford and stick with them. (Youth moving to adult fashion now)

2 – They have shut down their expansion desires closing their San Francisco, Shanghai and Paris shops. Instead concentrating on the stores they have. Or offering pop-ups overseas to sell items in Paris and New York.

3 – Events like tea parties across the world that help promote and give buyers a reason to buy and wear their brands.

4 – Create a group of lolita heads for brands that promote the brand and act as pseudo-producers.

5 – They looked to a Western audience and helped make ordering easier to foreign buyers.

Lolita has been smart across the brands and yet I bet if there were peaks at their sales records it’d be a steady but not growing situation. Marui One which used to be the lolita beacon in Tokyo is no longer. Marui Annex is now rising in its place but fills only two floors with lolita brands (this may be because of competition with Harajuku stores of the same brand).

If you want to distance hime from gyaru and lolita Jesus Diamante has closed stores and La Parfait is only online.

Harajuku punk and rock brands like Banana Fish and Black Peace Now all bit the dust in 2013. ManiaQ the Fairy kei brand closed after 15 years. Several big stores in Takeshita are closing or have closed and popular tights brand Avantgarde is closing their shop in Harajuku.

 

…and yet you do not hear peeps about the death of Harajuku fashion even though Takeshita has been bulldozed to make room for a Monki and other fast fashion. Misha Janette tackled the problem with Harajuku in a three part series. Yet it leaves me thinking that its a bit narrow, all fashion is hurting.

 

But to sum up this part, gyaru hurting is a symptom not the full illness. It’s just an easy target and a narrow one. 

 

Gyaru Dying article in Yomimuri

So I did reply to Tokyo Fashion and tell them I disagreed, and they sent me to an article bout Shibuya 109’s woes which I appreciated. However I’ve got bones to pick with it, too. So let’s go into it shall we?

Sales Figures

Originally published for the Yomimuri Shimbun the title is Japan sees a decline in Gyaru fashion style. I’m going to refute some items in it and agree with a few.

 

Total sales at Shibuya 109 fashion complex in Tokyo, dubbed a gyaru fashion mecca, peaked at 28.65 billion yen (about $289 million) in the year ending March 2009. But its sales for the year ending March 2014 are projected to be 18.8 billion yen, or about 60 percent of the 2009 figure.

 

No denying the numbers. Sales are lagging. It’s an old mall (see above). However I reckon numbers across all teen oriented malls are down. 2013 figures say La Foret made 12.9 billion yen.  Edit: Sales reports for LaForet for 2012 were 13.1 billion yen. So a tick down from the year before. Japan Times stated for Japanese department stores “annual sales at major department stores have fallen continuously for the past 13 years.”

Edit: As a note Shibuya 109 eyes rebound in second quarter with 5% increase in sales due to renewals and new stores.

But does that mean Shibuya 109 clothing sales have weakened or its clientele are leaving for nicer and nearer stores of the same brands?

Stores closing and bankrupt

 

“Love Boat” shop on the first underground floor of the complex closed its doors…. Three days later, Orches Co., which operated a popular “Lip Service” shop at the 109 complex, filed for court protection with a debt of 6 billion yen — though the shop itself is still in business there.

 

Love Boat closing is a big sign however the company seemed to be making some not-so-smart choices. They had a four story mega mall in Harajuku that was both out of the way and overreaching for the brand as shown by Tokyo Fashion. Four story mega mall? The rent alone must’ve been huge much less to make a profit with such a niche series of brands. Craziness! I thought it was craziness when I saw it. Love Boat also put out very basic and boring designs for 2010 onwards.

When people talk about clothing companies close I often wonder did a) they financially screw up? b) did they drive away customers with bad designs?

I’d like to point to Love Boat and say yes to both. They were boring and too easy to jump onto trends (see problems above) and yet their prices didn’t reflect the basicness of their clothing. Love Boat closing is sad however that doesn’t mean Love Boat left Shibuya 109. Actually LDS and b-gyaru brand LB-03 (which means LOVE BOAT – 03) which also sells Dance by LB-03, are both still in Shibuya 109. Both brands are still popular with their group  (to note: LDS also operates a store in Shinjuku Lumine EST).

Lip Service parent company bankruptcy is interesting. However I wonder how much that has to do with brands that aren’t Lip Service. Orches also owns Juriano Jurrie and JSG. JSG is now defunct and hung on way past the time when haade was a big movement in gyaru and not the biggest of its time. Juriano Jurrie was a discount rock brand that never really had an identity after that 2010 rock boom. It no longer has brick-and-mortar stores and just sells via the webstore.

Orches has smartly restructured with a clean on-line site and keeping Lip Service and discount brand Ciel by Lip Service as their heads. And now they only have Lip Service actual stores. By the way Lip Service has 28 actual stores in Japan and 10 overseas in China and Hong Kong. That is a heck of a comeback.

 

Four Points to Declining Gyaru

 

I believe there are four reasons for gyaru fashion’s rapid decline. First, the number of gyaru themselves dropped due to the low birth rate. Secondly, young women came to spend their time and money not in Shibuya but at shopping centers like Aeon Co. malls in their local areas. Thirdly, gyaru also became attracted to “fast fashion” brands such as H&M and Forever21, which respectively entered the Japanese market in 2008 and 2009. Finally, middle and high schools started tightening rules including bans on dying hair brown after a period of relaxed education policy.

 

Bolded by me.

 

1. Low Birth Rate – To me is the most BS argument and its used always in discussing any declining thing in Japan. I do think low birth rate is hurting Japan but it should hurt all of teen fashion. Not just gyaru. And the low birthrate didn’t kill 2009 sales in Shibuya 109, I’m calling BS. If you’re comparing a 20 year change then sure.

And just because I’m going to say maybe a key demographic is a 16 year old girl. So 2009 would be 1993 born and 2014 would be 1996. Japan birthrate was 1.46. 1996 was 1.38.

 

japan-birthrate

 

1993 and 1996. Look at that chart. It’s a blip. Which is why I call BS. 2005 babies will be concerning but I don’t feel that age is YET problematic for teen fashion. Use declining birthrate in 10 years and over a larger span of time.

But again this across all teens, so all teen fashion SHOULD but will be hurting. Gyaru isn’t the only style in town. Maybe elderly fashion will be awesome and they’ll be some Japanese Advanced Style blog?

 

2. Staying away from Shibuya 109 and closer to home – I completely agree that this is happening. Popteen Cafe opening in Chiba LalaPort is a big example of this. However this ignores that gyaru brands have expanded way past Shibuya 109 and many malls cater to their needs (again Shibuya 109 doesn’t equal gyaru). That doesn’t mean a decline in gyaru as the article is titled, it means instead its easier for teens to get their fashion. That seems like anti-decline to me.

 

3. “Fast Fashion” brands Forever 21 and H&M have moved into Japan – I do see this as a problem. I see it as a problem to all ages of fashion. However many gyaru and lolita brands encourage brand loyalty through novelties, meet-and-greets and other items. I do believe many people across Japan are buying less of brands and more of a mix between fast fashion and brands. So the profits will decline. Gyaru brands also are quick to change their style to this Zara, H&M basics style and it hurts the brands themselves.

 

japan-gyaru-blea

 

4. Stricter high school standards – Something I hadn’t considered and I think is a valid point. However Japanese schools do have a variety of choices on dress codes. A lot of girls who are interested in gyaru however go to Blea high school. And many girls interested in alternative teen fashion dress up only on weekends. However I think the desire to be flashy has declined among youth.

Popular Fig & Viper producer Alisa Ueno in an interview for Blea said she went to a strict high school but outside of it she said “I want to be free! I want to be more fashionable!” I just don’t feel like this is currently how many teens are thinking now, one of the reasons I think is AKB48 and other teen singers (as pointed out above).

 

The Rise of Larme

 

According to a recent survey conducted by WWD Japan on 150 young women in Tokyo for its September 8 issue, conventional gyaru fashion seems to have “grown up” into girlie or other types of fashion. Young women today apparently prefer less makeup and simple fashion with undyed hair.

 

150 isn’t a big sample size, but I do agree. However there are brands within Shibuya 109 that are catering to that and many brands inside Shibuya 109 itself have moved to much simpler fashion and quieted make-up. I think gyaru brands are accepting this trend. Even inside big holdouts such as MA*RS and DIA there is a change in how they are flashy. The hair is less big and the nails are often gel. And I’ve talked about this before in 2013 …is the new gyaru

 

The spread of social networks is also said to have made them seek more realistic styles.

 

The initial print run of girlie-style fashion magazine “Larme,” which was launched in September 2012, totaled 35,000. But with print runs now at 200,000, it can be said that the current trend of late-teen fashion is summed up in the magazine.

 

This is true and I think many gyaru brands will try to fit into Larme magazine. The sweet gyaru fashion will turn to Larme to get its style across and I feel this is not problematic.

However, I think this article ignores across the whole board the economy and the flow of fashion along with the other reasons at the top I believe gyaru is declining.

 

The Japanese economy is taking a hit in general 

To me this is one of the bigger ignored problems when talking about Japanese fashion. Especially those brands and magazines that concentrate in Japan.

Sure Larme magazine is doing well when other gyaru magazines have failed. There were too many magazines and they did some big mistakes to bore their target readers. Larme magazine has a successful formula for now and is building popular model icons and doing brand collaborations which helps them bring in ad revenue. I’d also like to note that Larme’s model age is a bit older than youth fashion. Risa being 25, Amo 23, and Yui Kanno at 27.

But Japanese articles often dance around the issue of the poor economy. Discussing the poor economy seen as not being friendly to the government and the press in Japan actually aren’t as free to say what they want. The poor economy makes these articles like Japanese SalaryMen have less pocket money. This trickles down to teens who also want to shop. Fewer teens, less pocket money. Easy math.

 

Fashion has a natural flow of expansion and extremes to contraction and lows

Currently I think there is a contraction in fashion and a low. Will globalization hurt this and continue this trend? I’m unsure but I feel this is across all fashion. There’s a need for a more low-key approach to style. Minimalism? Otona Kawaii? Sides of the same coin that mean a restriction and simplicity to how people are viewed.

 

I started writing this post at 2:00 and it’s now 7:00 and my hand hurts and there was lots of rambling. Maybe Definitely I made a few mistakes. However I wanted to clarify some issues I’ve found with how gyaru fashion and in general youth fashion is being portrayed and why there’s more one way to look at the issue.

Edit: added a few more details and such, still  a ramble. TLDR? Basically: It’s not just gyaru. All youth fashion has troubles, malls stop being fashionable as they get old and less trendy, the brands and genres aging with their customers are successful ones, and brand expansion and success should be determined by clientele and economic woes. :cheery:

 

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What is Seiso?

Seiso (清楚) is a more codified style but also more of a feeling. The kanji itself meaning “neat and clean” or “polished”. It’s a fashion style that also has its origins in Akamojikei magazines. It’s a style for both youth and young adults, the age range being around 16-35. Its exact history isn’t well known because “polished” has been a concept since there’s been clothing and many of the brands supporting it have been around for a long time. However the look as it is codified now started around 2006.

Seiso is for girls and women who want to look cute yet in a clean style. The style doesn’t really look at the opposite sex as a starting point (unlike Motekei or Akamojikei). Instead it’s about your own look of polish and feeling feminine. It’s a very popular style especially with young girls. The youth magazines that support it selling very well (Seventeen and Popteen).

 


 

Seiso vs. Otona Kawaii

Seiso is similar to Otona Kawaii, however it’s not Otona Kawaii. Otona Kawaii focuses on a softer look and less tailored.

fint Seiso vs. Otona Kawaii

A great example are these Fint (brand post 1 | 2 ) coordinates. A shop staff on their blog put together two coordinates featuring the same skirt. To the left is her Seiso coordinate and the right is her Otona Kawaii coordinate. With Seiso the hair is simple and the outfit is smooth to the body.

seiso-otonakawaii

Seiso vs. Otona Kawaii

Similar length and cut hair but different styles. To the left is very Seiso hair. Smooth, girly, polished.  No curl or bottom curl is more popular than all throughout curl. Side parted bangs are very common. To the right is Otona Kawaii hair with volume and softness and a light messiness.

Makeup tends to be pretty similar between both trends with a soft natural feeling, although Seiso wearing less is better.


Breaking down Seiso

Unlike say gyaru or lolita you won’t see magazines saying “Top 10 Seiso Coordinates” instead it’s more of a feeling of “that’s really Seiso” or Seiso-kei (清楚系). Girls often won’t say they’re this style, but instead will say an outfit or hairstyle is “Seiso” or they like to dress in a polished fashion. The more common term for girls who follow this style is “Seiso Joshi” (清楚女子).

Seiso is often called “Retro Kawaii” in magazines. It’s also a term used to describe Idol-kei, especially AKB48’s rival Nogizaka46 (乃木坂46).

seiso-nogizaka

Nogizaka46 in very smooth “polished” hair.

 

Seiso themes:

A big word I like to use to describe the style is tailored. If the outfit looks girly yet tailored, than chances are its this style.

Common themes no matter the season are:

Hair – black or brown hair, bottom undercurl or straight hair with bangs,

Make-up – simple natural make-up

Colors – neutral tones especially browns, whites and beiges, use of one pastel, pinks, preppy colors such as red, navy and green. In the coordinates you’ll see there’s not a lot of black, instead navy or grey is a more common color.

Coordinate themes – a trad jacket over a onepiece, a cardigan or knit set, flared not tight skirt, blouses instead of t-shirts, tailored instead of casual.

Seiso-style magazines :

Seiso magazines are varied because it’s a youth and adult fashion look: Seventeen and Popteen are youth fashion magazines. More and Mina are both older magazines. All magazines listed above do not just feature Seiso style. I chronicled Popteen’s move to SeisoGyaru previously here.

Seiso-style brands:

Rope, Earth Music Ecology, Nice Claup, Fint, Allamanda by INGNI, Lowry’s Farm, Mystic, Axes Femmes, Mysty Woman, Apuweiser-Riche, Minirdees, Amavel. Sweet gyaru brands such as Ank Rouge and Ingni can also be worn more Seiso.


Shop Staff Coordinates in Seiso Style

All of the coordinates shown are by shop staff who titled their looks Seiso.

fint-twoways

Fint shop staff in the same onepiece.

seiso-shopstaff-coordinates

MystyWoman (left) and Earth Music Ecology (right) shop staff

shopstaff

EHyphen World Gallery (left) and Lodispotto (right) wearing neat-and-clean items

niceclaup-seiso2

Two Nice Claup shop staff

niceclaup

Classic Seiso hair: straight with a curl

okarie

Ank Rouge Director Okarie posted her summer Seiso coordinate.

Style points to note: simple beiges and whites, hair half up, straight hair with side fringe

Although all the coordinates feature shorter skirts or ones right above the knee with the maxi and flare skirt trends of this season expect to see longer skirt coordinates. However they will probably be paired with a tailored blouse and the same simple hair.

Seiso Coordinates

Thanks to Coordisnap there’s over 1,000 posts of Seiso coordinates by everyday girls.

everyday everyday

This is all from summer so you can see there’s more of a summer silhouette, but the look remains similar. You can see most of the girls have smooth, straight semi-long dark hair. That’s the default Seiso-style hair for everyday girls who aren’t shop staff, but highschool or college age.

With Larme-kei emerging a lot of the youth brands of Seiso are starting to cater towards it. However most of the outfits in Larme magazine aren’t Seiso even if some of the seis0-like brands are in Larme, it’s all about styling and color choices. Again the keys for this look are simple, tailored with smooth hair which isn’t Larme style.


More resources?

Hair – A link of Seiso hairstyles tagged by hairstylists on Kirei Style

Adult Seiso – Here’s a good Naver of adult Seiso coordinates: http://matome.naver.jp/odai/2139096041313775401

An amusing article about a girl who won the Love SunShine Gyaru model competition last year who turned Seiso

This was a Japanese Fashion University post. Want to learn more in depth about Japanese fashion? Click here.

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sweetmagazine-covers

 

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).

 

#Treatyoself
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.

 

Parks-and-rec-treat-yo-self

 


 

 

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-magazine-overseas-celebrities

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-amuro-spread

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-highbrand

sweet-brand-accessories

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.

sweet-midhigh

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

sweet-japanese-brands

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-budget

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.

sweet-fall-trend

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

sweet-magazine-trendcasting

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

sweet-streetsnap-dokusha-models

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-makeup-brands

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.

sweet-makeup-exclusivemodels

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

sweet-magazine-covers

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-magazine-series2

 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-magazine-data

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.

japanese-magazine-bookstore

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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