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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here are some examples of plumprimo’s range.
feast by Gomi Hayakawa: Video game-themed fashion show for lingerie brand for women with modest chestsWritten 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.
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 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.
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.
Feast or famine? I think we have the answer.
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” 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.
Mt Fuji, being not only the tallest mountain in Japan and also a symmetrical beauty of nature, has always lent itself to being a motif for artists and designers to exploit. Perhaps starting with Katsushika Hokusai in the nineteenth century, perhaps no other landmark in Japan has been so reproduced and commodified.
This only increased when Fuji was given UNESCO World Heritage status last year amid a frenzy of self-congratulatory media coverage. The result is that it seems everywhere you look there are Fuji-themed products. Sure, some are tacky but a few of them are very good quality indeed. We are particular fans of the Fujiyama Beer Glass.
Now one of the top names in Japanese fashion Issey Miyake has got in on the Fuji craze as part of the five-year anniversary celebrations of its Aoyama store move.
The Pleats Please Issey Miyake series are only available from the brand’s Aoyama branch and focus on Mt Fuji and Otafuku motifs. The Mt Fuji design is for a rather snazzy skirt, available in three colors for ¥34,000 ($312).
Issey Miyake have also created some t-shirts with motifs of Otafuku, the female version of the folk character Hyottoko and another icon of Japan. The Otafuku t-shirts come in two colors and two designs, costing ¥16,000 ($150).
For more modest budgets (and more practical functions), we recommend the Nippon-Ichi Fujisan Umbrella. This is also a combination of Mt Fuji with a design label, this time Nippon-Ichi (Japan Market), a label by Yu Nakagawa focus on crafts with a contemporary chic twist.
Here the canopy of the umbrella is decorated with the snow-capped Fuji peak as seen from above — it’s a classic image of Fuji — and if you look closely, you’ll see that the image is actually composed of mini triangular Mt Fujis. The name “Fujisan” here is also a clever Japanese pun, meaning both “Mt Fuji” and “Fuji umbrella.”
Available from JapanTrendShop.
The first one came out in July 2013 and caused quite a stir. Now comes the follow-up.
“Suichu Ni-so” (“underwater knee-high socks”) is a photography series by Manabu Koga devoted to — you’ve guessed it! — young ladies diving under the water wearing knee-high socks (and swimwear too, of course). The idea sounds ridiculously simple but actually the visuals are quite fresh, almost hypnotic, like a whole new aquatic landscape.
Koga’s new 96-page photography book “Underwater Knee-High Girls plus” hits local stores on October 20th, priced ¥1,800 (around $18) plus tax.
Part of the appeal comes from the fact that the models have all kinds of props with them, some of which — like umbrellas, raincoats and rabbit ears — just shouldn’t be there (i.e., underwater) in the first place. Apparently the knee-high socks are designed especially for diving in, created by a “mecha designer” who is also working on the new “Gundam Build Fighters” TV anime series.
Models featured include Risu Shima and Manami Yamaguchi.
The fashion accessory brand Q-pot, known for its chocolate-themed products, has got together with Sharp to create a special limited edition Q-pot. Melty Chocolate TV, which it is selling exclusively through its online shop and Harajuku store from September 17th.
Obviously, like all of Q-pots sugary accessories, it’s not actually made of chocolate. Don’t try eating the screen! The frame is in fact black walnut wood. Also look out for the ten ants disguised around the TV.
Why ants? Well, ants like chocolate and this is a Japanese pun. The word for ant is “ari” and the word for ten is “tou”. In this way it is saying both “There are 10 ants” (ari ga tou) and “thank you” (arigatou). Quite what the gratitude is for, we’re not sure…
The “melting” chocolate part can be taken off and attached to wherever you want it to be on the TV, and the whole thing turns into a mirror when you turn off the power.
There is even a box for the remote control box in the same design and the whole frame can be hung on the wall.
The Q-pot Melty Chocolate TV does come at a price rather more than a bar of chocolate — ¥171,000 (over $1,600), plus tax, to be exact. That’s about 17 times what I paid for my television set, though mine is made of boring materials like plastic.
The Q-pot. brand was launched in 2002 by Tadaaki Wakamatsu. Its previous headline-grabbing products and projects include the Q-pot Cafe in Tokyo and a series of Sharp chocolate phones and iPod accessories.
Toyo Tire and Rubber Co., Ltd. has created a series of yukata based on the tread designs of three of its tire products.
Here are what the Toyo tire tread yukata look like, modeled by Toyo employees. While you might associate tire treads with a somewhat rough or dirty image — since they are the parts of the tire that are gripping a road surface — or at least to be rather brawny or tough, the resulting yukata are as colorful and fun as you’d expect from the summer wear.
Yukata are, of course, Japanese summer kimonos and a frequent sight at firework displays and festivals in the hot months, though we’ve never seen any designed from tires!
“In order to give customers a sense of the rich expression of our tires,” Toyo says, “which are renowned for their original designs, we had our tread designs tailored into the patterns for yukata, a garment commonly worn during summers in Japan. By transposing the originality of tires, normally thought of as a simple round, black object, into the feminine world of color dimensions apart, we have created another unique touch point distinctive of Toyo Tires.”
The particular tread patterns come from popular Toyo tires PROXES R1R, OPEN COUNTRY M/T and NANOENERGY 0, while the dyeing in the yukata is in a traditional style.
The bad news is that that tire tread yukata are not for sale, though Toyo, after announcing the project back in July, promises to use the yukata at company promotional events.
[Hat tip to @nippon_en]