Trend no more? Pioneering Harajuku tattoo tights store Avantgarde closes, street fashion moves on

Written by: William on November 18, 2014 at 7:38 am | In LIFESTYLE, PRODUCT INNOVATION | No Comments

It has been one of the biggest trends of recent years and then just like that, it has faded away.

So-called “tattoo tights” exploded into the popular and digital consciousness in 2011, even garnering overseas attention. The streets of areas like Harajuku and Shibuya were filled with the pins of young girls wearing fake body art-style leggings. The sheer variety of the “tattoo” designs was impressive: from Hello Kitty aplenty to cats, rabbits, onions, and more.

avantgarde-tattoo tights street fashion japan harajuku leggings

Avantgarde is the main brand behind the street fashion trend and as such opened a tattoo tights store in Harajuku in October 2011. It seems the legs of the fashionista have moved on, since Avantgarde will be closing the brand’s basement-level boutique on November 24th in the face of declining demand for their stockings.

Tattoo tights were a victim of their own success, with numerous replica and cheap imitations flooding the market. Yes, fake-fake tattoo tights!

avantgarde-tattoo tights street fashion japan harajuku leggings
[Image source]

Launched in 2009 by Kazuhiro Watanabe, MAM Avantgarde was constantly thinking up new bold designs as well as wide-ranging collaborations, including Hello Kitty and Disney. In 2012 Tokyo Fashion.com called Avantgarde Harajuku “the most influential legwear boutique in the Tokyo street fashion scene today”. Sadly, it was not enough to ride the notoriously capricious waves of street fashion for long.

Avantgarde has not announced any new plans for other stores but will continue to sell online. There are still lots of tattoo tights around so perhaps we shouldn’t write off the trend quite yet.

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NEC GAZIRU-F image recognition tech integrates fashion magazine mobile shopping for smartphone, tablet cameras

Written by: William on November 13, 2014 at 9:09 am | In LIFESTYLE, PRODUCT INNOVATION | No Comments

NEC has got together with Fashion TV to offer a smartphone and tablet service for mobile eCommerce for apparel items you see in a magazine. If you see an item in a magazine you like, you can use GAZIRU-F to snap a shot of it and be connected to a shopping portal to purchase the product.

The service will be available through an app for the fashion magazine persona from spring 2015. GAZIRU-F will be expanded to 20 further companies by 2016 if it proves successful.

nec fashion tv gaziru-f mobile ecommerce image recognition shopping tech photograph smartphone tablet

NEC has been developing the cloud-based Gaziru technology for a while. Dig Info did a report on it back in 2012.

The name is coined from combining two Japanese words: gazo (image) and shiru (know, recognize).

Similar to Google Goggles or Bing Vision, you can just take a snap of something and get a readout of the information it can draw from a database. No text input is required.

GAZIRU is not restricted to images of 2D objects. Further uses for GAZIRU tech may include helping people operate equipment — take a photograph of something and get an operation manual on your screen in seconds. Likewise there are benefits for health, such as being able to provide nutritional data for certain foods. The educational implications are immense; a museum or exhibition can become interact with further information for visitors who want to know more about a certain item on display.

The days of the humble barcode or QR code are surely limited.

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Neo-Kotatsu: Kotatsu Parka shows the (wearable) evolution of the Japanese heated table

Written by: William on November 5, 2014 at 1:21 pm | In PRODUCT INNOVATION | No Comments

Winter is coming and it’s time to get cosy inside the kotatsu, the traditional Japanese low table with a large blanket and heater underneath. The kotatsu can be a homemade contraption with a regular table, futon and space heater — or they might be purpose-built models with the heater integrated into the table and radiating very snuggly through the futon.

But how about the kotatsu as a fashion item?

Hatra has created a “kotatsu parka”. The new product went on display recently as an example of a wearable “neo-kotatsu” from Kori-Show, by Itochu Fashion Systems.

hatra neo kotatsu parka japan furniture winter wearable itochu fashion

It uses four parkas integrated with “kuronos knit” water-repellant materials and connected by zips so you can climb in and out easily. You can attach it to a low household table, either round or rectangular.

While kind of like a heated version of King Jim’s visionary Wearable Futon Air Mat, it means several people can huddle in and keep warm in the winter but also retain your personal space.

hatra neo kotatsu parka japan furniture winter wearable itochu fashion

The designer from hatra said he was inspired by train seats and also wants to make a similar massage chair in the future. He has been developing the wearable kotatsu idea for a while, since Spoon & Tamago also reported on a prototype version in spring last year.

hatra neo kotatsu parka japan furniture winter wearable itochu fashion

For some reason Itochu Fashion System thought the best way to advertise a Japanese item of furniture was to get foreigners to try it out and pose for publicity photos, but even so we like the look of the “wearable kotatsu“.

hatra neo kotatsu parka japan furniture winter wearable itochu fashion

Orders are being taken for the neo-kotatsu, though it will set you back at least ¥255,000 ($2,500).

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Peach John’s Yummy Mart releases SpongeBob SquarePants pajamas and underwear

Written by: William on November 5, 2014 at 7:44 am | In PRODUCT INNOVATION | 3 Comments

We’re not sure if this qualifies as a “trend” but it made us laugh.

To us, SpongeBob SquarePants has always been a bit creepy, but in Japan the yellow character is apparently a cutie. This must be the reason why he has been chosen as the theme of a new range of pajamas and underwear for Yummy Mart.

yummy mart peach john underwear pajamas spongebob squarepants character clothes

The six items in the collection — including slippers, eye mask, underwear, and robe — are modeled here by Monika Sahara, Yui Sakuma and Elaiza Ikeda, and go on sale in Yummy Mart stores from November 12th. No surprises, they’ve gone with yellow.

yummy mart peach john underwear pajamas spongebob squarepants character clothes

yummy mart peach john underwear pajamas spongebob squarepants character clothes

yummy mart peach john underwear pajamas spongebob squarepants character clothes

yummy mart peach john underwear pajamas spongebob squarepants character clothes

Yummy Mart is Peach John’s brand for younger girls. Whereas Peach John has famously and successively combined the cute with the sexy, Yummy Mart has more of an innocent pop and fun vibe.

yummy mart peach john underwear pajamas spongebob squarepants character clothes

yummy mart peach john underwear pajamas spongebob squarepants character clothes

In general, Peach John is a pretty innovative lingerie brand. Its previous ideas include a range of Sailor Moon-inspired cosplay underwear that sells out as soon as new products are added to the range.

yummy mart peach john underwear pajamas spongebob squarepants character clothes

If you’re a SpongeBob fan and want to get your hands on these Yummy Mart clothes, you can contact JapanTrendShop to request a special order.

Way back in 2007, the Associated Press reported on the popularity of SpongeBob among Japanese women and how Viacom deliberately target female consumers in the licensing.

Square and loud, SpongeBob wasn’t supposed to have much chance for success in Japan, a nation famous for its love of more cuddly characters like Hello Kitty and Pikachu.

But the perky, bucktoothed American cartoon is proving the skeptics wrong. “SpongeBob SquarePants” attracts nearly 1.9 million Japanese households to his TV show daily and is raking in a growing share of the $5 billion in annual retail sales for Nickelodeon, the Viacom Inc. unit behind the show.

And he’s doing it by capturing the hearts of Japan’s young women — not children, his most loyal fans in the U.S.

“I started collecting Bob because I think he’s cute and he stands out,” said Mayu Takahashi, a 21-year-old student, shopping in Tokyo’s fashionable Harajuku district holding a SpongeBob tote bag. “Some of my friends say he’s a creepy kind of cute.”

Well, the jury may still be out on that question but SpongeBob’s success in Japan is now established.

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Japanese fundoshi loincloths back in fashion… for girls

Written by: William on October 10, 2014 at 11:34 am | In LIFESTYLE, PRODUCT INNOVATION | No Comments

Everything comes back into fashion. And that includes Japanese loincloths. Fundoshi are usually only seen on the bodies (and buttocks) of men taking part in Japanese festivals or on sumo wrestlers (technically called mawashi).

But how about girls? Yes, fundoshi for women is a thing.

Actually, for the past few years people have been talking about this. Even venerable Japanese subculture guru Danny Choo blogged about it back in 2009.

fundoshi loincloth japan women girls trend

Wacoal were pretty pioneering in this with their Nana Fun fundoshi for women product back in 2008 (sadly no longer on sale).

It led to the start of a trend and a revival in fortune for fundoshi. The Japan Fundoshi Association was even set up a little while later to promote the loincloth. And if you thought that February 14th was Valentine’s Day, you are very much mistaken. It is (also) Fundoshi Day… since 2013 at any rate.

Retailers have sprung up to cope with the demand. Ai Fun is an online store that specializes in “stylish” fundoshi for women. Odakyu Department Store in Shinjuku has a shop called Desk My Style with around 60 kinds of fundoshi on sale for men and women. Apparently they are popular with women in their thirties. There is even growing interest in the trend in other parts of Japan. A specialist fundoshi select store, Teraya, opened in Nagasaki City last November.

fundoshi loincloth japan women girls trend

As part of this, we recently saw the release of a “mook” for fundoshi. Mooks are a popular element of the Japanese magazine publishing world, semi-regular magazines or spin-off booklets which often include merchandise. In this case, the Fundoshi Panties Loincloth Underwear Mook includes a pair of fundoshi. While officially unisex, the cover and magazine make it clear that this loincloth is being marketed squarely at the girls.

fundoshi loincloth japan women girls trend

But fundoshi are not just being promoted for girls (and men) because they are novel or traditional. There are health benefits, such as improved blood circulation. Most importantly, fundoshi loincloths are being suggested as excellent nighttime wear for women to help them sleep.

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The Snap Up by en route, a crowdsourced fashion show on the streets of Tokyo

Written by: William on October 8, 2014 at 10:36 pm | In LIFESTYLE, PRODUCT INNOVATION | No Comments

Last month United Arrows’ en route brand ran a special “crowdsourced fashion show” on the streets of Omotesando and Harajuku.

In the words of Contagious.com, The Snap Up campaign saw “fashion brand encourage the public to act like the paparazzi in Tokyo”.

We’re a little late to the party with this story but because it’s pretty cool, we reckon it still merits a write-up one month after the fact.

En Route sent models for three hours wearing its 2014 autumn-winter line out into the streets during the Vogue Fashion Night Out, the annual bonanza which sees lots brands and stores in Omotesando running special evening events.

en route the snap up crowdsourced fashion show tokyo streets vogue fashion night out 2014 campaign united arrows

Members of the public were invited to hunt for the wandering models, take their pictures, and then upload them via the dedicated The Snap Up iPhone app. These were then judged in realtime and uploaded to the campaign website. The selected images netted the photographer a small cash prize of ¥1,000 (under $10).

en route the snap up crowdsourced fashion show tokyo streets vogue fashion night out 2014 campaign united arrows

And apparently there was a mysterious “Cashier Man” also walking the streets. If they stumbled across him, you could swipe your phone on his arm and claim money on the spot. Nice! According to Contagious.com,1,000 people took 27,000 photos.

en route the snap up crowdsourced fashion show tokyo streets vogue fashion night out 2014 campaign united arrows

Here’s a trailer giving you a taster of the campaign.

Although the photos themselves no longer seem to be available, on The Snap Up website you can even watch a four-hour-plus “live” video of the event.

En route is aimed at men and women in their thirties, centering around fashion and sports under the concept of “Wearable Tokyo”. It opened its first store in Ginza in September, shortly after it ran The Snap Up campaign.

en route the snap up crowd sourced fashion show tokyo streets vogue fashion night out 2014 campaign united arrows

In Japan privacy has more respect than other places and TV shows will typically blur out the faces of random people who happen to walk into shot during filming. There has also been a lot of brouhaha recently about fans snapping photos of celebrities without explicit permission from the person being lensed.

And so for a brand to encourage profligate photography and indiscriminate social media sharing is quite a bold marketing move, locally at least.

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Yumetenbo plus plumprimo: A new Japanese fashion shopping app for pocchari plus-size ladies

Written by: William on October 8, 2014 at 9:05 am | In LIFESTYLE | No Comments

Japanese women are known for being on the slender side but beauty of course comes in all shapes and sizes. As such, we have seen a shift towards a greater mainstream acceptance of larger ladies in the Japanese fashion world, which is typified by women with spider-thin arms and legs and chopping board-thin bodies.

A pioneer in this was La Farfa, the first fashion magazine in Japan for women who can be described as pocchari — an informal Japanese word that can be translated as “chubby”, though its nuance is not at all negative (quite the opposite, the word often has a cute connotation).

The launch of La Farfa was followed by Japan’s first pocchari fashion show, featuring only women of a certain size range.

plusprimo yumetenbo app fashion japanese women larger size plus chubby pocchari

And now we have Yumetenbo + plumprimo, a new Android and iPhone app on the Yumetenbo (“Dream Platform”) system that showcases the apparel brand plumprimo, which as its name suggests, is exclusively for plus-size women.

plusprimo yumetenbo app fashion japanese women larger size plus chubby pocchari

plusprimo yumetenbo app fashion japanese women larger size plus chubby pocchari

Yumetenbo runs a fashion e-commerce service for women. The new partnership with plumprimo will allow users to search for plus-size plumprimo items on Yumetenbo + and buy them through the Yumetenbo platform. While there are a lot of niches in Japanese fashion and, as we said, you might be forgiven for presuming Japan didn’t have much demand for plus-size digital fashion tools like this, the makers are hoping for 10,000 downloads of the free app in a year.

plusprimo yumetenbo app fashion japanese women larger size plus chubby pocchari

Here are some examples of plumprimo’s range.

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feast by Gomi Hayakawa: Video game-themed fashion show for lingerie brand for women with modest chests

Written by: William on October 6, 2014 at 12:08 pm | In PRODUCT INNOVATION | No Comments

Less is more, as they say, and beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. These two truism perhaps best sum up one savvy project by a talented fashion design student who has found success already at a young age.

Let’s be frank, most Japanese woman are not well-equipped in the chest area. The slang for this in Japanese is hinnyuu — literally “poor breasts”. But Gomi Hayakawa doesn’t agree. The 19-year-old has taken the concept of being flat-chested and replaced the first Kanji character (for “poor”) with one that has the same sound but means “quality”.

The result was feast, her line of bras and lingerie for women with modest chests.

gomi hayakawa feast lingerie breasts small chests japanese women

And now to fund her first fashion show on November 30th at Shibuya’s Garret Udagawa, she has taken to crowdfunding service Campfire. She aimed to raise ¥250,000 (around $2,300) by the end of October.

Let’s keep in mind that Hayakawa is still only a first-year student at Tama Art University. She clearly knows how to market her ideas, not to mention having brilliant design ideas in the first place.

feast gomi hayakawa lingerie bra hinnyuu small breasts chest

feast sold out of its entire 450-item run in the first day when it was launched earlier in the year. It received a lot of attention online and from some mainstream media outlets, and also found some free publicity from cosplay models like Luchino Fujisaki. She has since launched a second line of feast items (A cup or smaller!), with colors inspired by sweets.

gomi hayakawa feast lingerie breasts small chests japanese women

The fashion show Hayakawa is planning will feature DJ and VJ performances, new feast lingerie, and other “interactive” elements. She said she doesn’t just want to present designs to people — she wants “to design people”. The fashion show “RPG” will be themed around the concept of a role-playing video game and in this vein Hayakawa has even created a video game as a taster, plus this promo video.

On her Campfire project Hayakawa offers donation packages starting at a mere ¥500 ($5). At the time of writing she has already achieved almost double her funding from over 60 funders, proving yet again that she has really tapped into a formidable niche here.

gomi hayakawa feast bra lingerie underwear small bust chest breasts

Feast or famine? I think we have the answer.

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Optical: a new fashion magazine in Japan devoted to wearing glasses

Written by: William on September 26, 2014 at 8:35 am | In LIFESTYLE, PRODUCT INNOVATION | 2 Comments

It’s official. Having glasses is cool.

Japan has long regarded glasses and eyewear as serious fashion items, which is why companies like Jin and Zoff go to great efforts to market their products in interesting ways, such as setting up vending machines for glasses.

Glasses are so cool they have even inspired their own typography by font designers.

And now glasses have their own dedicated hipster fashion magazine.

optical glasses eyewear fashion magazine japan

“Optical” will be published four times a year by Yoshimoto Books, with the first issue going on sale in Japan on September 25th. Aimed at men and women who wear and like glasses as lifestyle and fashion accessories — and not just tools for seeing better — the front cover features comedian Naoki Matayoshi and model and actress Akiko Kikuchi, who is also a part-time editor herself. Needless to say, Matayoshi and Kikuchi all wear glasses, and very snazzy they look in them too.

The content includes photo stories, interviews with celebrities who wear glasses, and more. The fashion pages include tips on coordinating your specs with your wardrobe in various scenarios (trips to a cafe, the park, a bookstore, etc). There is also trivia, shop guides, and other articles, all themed around the art of having a cool glasses lifestyle.

The publisher is a subsidiary of Yoshimoto Kogyo, the entertainment giant, so we can expect future issues to feature plenty of content with Yoshimoto comedians.

“Optical” is priced ¥926 (about $10) plus tax.

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