For such a ubiquitous apparel chain, UNIQLO demonstrates a healthy tendency to innovate. Every year its UT t-shirts change and it always works with a massive range of designers and famous franchises to create original collectible clothing.
While in the past these have included pop series from anime and cinema, this time UNIQLO has sought out inspiration from the past.
The Shochiku Kabuki x UNIQLO Project kicks off with a series of t-shirts and other items on sale from March 26th.
Shochiku is a film and theater production company, and runs the Kabuki-za in Ginza, the most famous Kabuki theater.
In the words of the official press release, the new project will “present to the world Japan’s traditional culture in the form of
modern pop culture through Kabuki and clothes.”
Kabuki actor Ichikawa Ennosuke IV will be the “Project Ambassador” and the line will go on sale in 14 markets around the world. The launch is actually happening first in France — Japan has an obsession with France as the pinnacle of high culture and the affection is reciprocated — on March 20th, a week ahead of the Japan release.
The new series will include t-shirts, lounge wear, bandanas and tote bags. The designs will include motifs from the Ichikawa yago as well as kumadori stage makeup. Full details of designs will be released on March 19th.
“I believe Japan can rightfully take pride in the artistic traditions and beauty of Kabuki, which we have been promoting ever since our foundation in 1895. Working together with UNIQLO has given us the opportunity to express Kabuki’s bold, yet delicate, aesthetics on clothing in a way never seen before to millions of UNIQLO fans around the world,” says Jay Sakomoto, Shochiku President and CEO.
The new range is a very nice boost for Kabuki, which was declared a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2005. While not as inaccessible as Noh, it is nonetheless an esoteric taste today and most Japanese have trouble understanding all the complex stylistic points, let alone the actual language (performances are surtitled). Foreign tourists, though, are always fascinated by its color and flair, and the right people seem to know this, as evidenced by upcoming March opening of a “Kabuki Gate” at Narita Airport. This spring really will have a Kabuki flavor.
There is a precedent for this from the beauty industry. Isshin Do Honpo Inc has had great success with its series of Kabuki face packs. Like the UNIQLO t-shirts, they too have been made with the help of genuine Kabuki performers and reflect the makeup of characters in real Kabuki plays.
This is the true “cool Japan”: traditions mixed with modern convenience and lifestyle.
UNIQLO spin-off GU recently held a kabe-don event at its Ginza branch as a promo for a holiday season sale.
Does the idea of having a hot guy leaning up against you inside a clothes store, slapping his hand against the wall to trap you in his intimate embrace, inspire you to purchase some fast fashion?
Well, on December 5th GU had a pair of attractive Japanese guys offering just this “service” at its Ginza store.
All you had to do was head to the GU outlet in Ginza, pick one of the special holiday season items in the promo, and then ask the men if the clothes suited you. One of the hotties would then tell you how good you looked while doing a kabe-don on you.
Judging by the pictures and official video, the women were apparently pleased to have guys leaning in on them, perhaps because ordinarily they would have to drag their unenthused partners around on a clothes shopping spree. The idea of a guy taking the time to go around with them in a store — and even compliment and try to get romantic between the aisles — is seemingly a fantasy for some female consumers.
Kabe-don has been one of the trends of the year, with the Morinaga “Kabe-don” Cafe in Harajuku creating headlines for its sheer audacity (it used an artificial waiter), as well pictures of apparent kabe-don poses spreading on social media.
Kabe-don refers to a certain position where a man places his hand against a wall, keeping his female partner there so he can lean in for a smooch. The kabe part means “wall” while don is the sound of the hand hitting the surface.
At the GU event some lucky girls got both guys doing a double kabe-don on them. And this wasn’t a sexist event either, since male customers were also treated to the same experience.
Want a free haircut? Of course!
But the free cut being offered by Mars Japan Limited for six days at weekends in Omotesando comes at a different sort of price. It’s kind of insane.
While Japan already has its fair dose of odd fashion and beauty trends, many of which manifest themselves as larger-than-life hair styles or wigs, this might be the best hirsute promo we’ve seen in the capital.
The Snickers Hungry Barber will be open for customers over December 12th to 14th, and December 19th to 21st. Based as a pop-up at Zerobase Omotesando (5-1-25 Minami-Aoyama, Minato Ward, Tokyo), patrons can choose from one of eight styles, including “techno”, heavy metal, mohican, “omakase” (leave it to you), “half & half”, and “bakuhatsu” (explosion).
Please pick your cut from the menu below.
If you want a free mohican, you also have to pose for a photo of your new cut with a bar of Snickers, and then upload it to social media. After all, getting your head buzzed is all about creating marketing buzz.
We should point at that while some of the outlandish haircuts might be home in certain districts of Tokyo, the tony Omotesando neighborhood is usually known for luxury fashion and chic tastes.
Hey, at least you can console yourself with the chocolate bar?
This article by Katie Reilly first appeared on Tokyo Cheapo.
So you want to get dressed up, do the whole kimono thing while you’re in Tokyo? These timeless outfits are not exactly cheap, but that’s why kimono rentals exist. You can experience wearing one for a short time without having to spend an enormous amount of money. Plus, by renting you have someone there to help you with the tricky business of putting it on.
Kimono are the traditional clothing of Japan. While they are not generally seen on a daily basis today, they are still often worn by women and sometimes men for festivals and special occasions. Traditionally kimono were made of silk, though nowadays there are cheaper ones made with less expensive fabrics. Kimono are wrapped so that the left side covers the right, adjusted for height, and are secured with an obi. These are sashes that keep the fabric in place and are tied in the back. Kimono are a beautiful aspect of Japanese culture and fun to experience.
The Omotenashi Kimono Experience (“omotenashi” loosely translating as hospitality) provided by the Nihonbashi Information Center is a reasonable way to try out kimono. At ¥5,500 it won’t be the cheapest thing you do in Tokyo, but it’s good value for the service it offers.
You start by picking out your favorite pattern and color of kimono from the selection they provide, and match it with an obi of your choice. You then move into a second room where their staff will help you put on the kimono. As it is a rather complicated process to attempt by yourself for the first time, they will take care of it for you. It is recommended that you wear or bring an undershirt, as you may want it for extra coverage since you will only be wearing undergarments beneath your kimono. The whole process of getting into a kimono takes about 20 minutes.
After you get into your kimono, you can take some photographs in the tatami room. There are a couple of Japan-esque parasols that can be used when you pose. Once you have taken all the inside photos you want, you choose your zōri (traditional shoes worn with kimono) which are worn with white tabi (traditional socks that divide your big toe from the rest of your toes) and head out for a stroll. While you are out, you can store your belongings in a bag that the center provides and they will keep it for you until you return.
A prime spot for photos, just behind the Coredo building.
The kimono experience can be paired with the guided Best of Japan tour offered by the Nihonbashi Information Center, but if you do the kimono experience separately you are free to wander wherever you want (which we prefer). You have until 6 pm to return the kimono, giving you enough time (if you start at lunchtime) to go sightseeing and take photographs around the city. While they’ll give you a pamphlet on places to see in Nihonbashi, you shouldn’t feel limited to that area. Asakusa is our recommended destination, as there are many shrines and temples there that are good spots for snapping kimono pics.
The kimono experience is only offered on Thursdays and Saturdays from 10:30 am to 3:30 pm (with the 6 pm kimono return), and it’s best to book in advance as they seem to fill up quickly. You can do that online, and you can also schedule a group if you would like to do it with friends or family.
The Omotenashi Kimono Experience can be found in the Kyorakutei Room on the third floor of COREDO Muromachi 3, which is easy to get to from Mitsukoshimae and Nihonbashi Stations. The information center is in the basement floor of the same building, and the staff can give you advice on what can be seen in the area. You can also do a geisha experience (that whole white make-up thing is not part of the regular kimono experience) and tea ceremony for additional fees.
The building where it all happens.
Think you might like to get one of your own? Here’s a cheapo guide to buying kimono.
Read on Tokyo Cheapo.
Shiseido Hanatsubaki, Geppo and Graph magazine archives document rich history of Japanese cosmetic advertising and graphic designWritten by: William on November 25, 2014 at 11:04 am | In CULTURE | No Comments
Shiseido’s Hanatsubaki digital archive is a fascinating glimpse back into Japan’s cosmetics advertising past.
Drawing on the graphic design and ads featured over the years in Hanatsubaki, Shiseido’s consumer magazine founded in 1937, and its previous publications Shiseido Geppo (started in 1924) and Shiseido Graph (1933), the archive is a veritable treasure trove.
Shiseido has just added some new Shiseido Geppo (Shiseido Monthly) images from the December 1930 issue, giving us an excuse to indulge in selections from its previous archives. The changing style of the design obviously reflects the progress of both the social and publishing scene.
Shiseido Geppo, 1924
Shiseido Geppo, July 1930
Shiseido Geppo, December 1930
Shiseido Graph, June 1935
Shiseido Graph, 1936 Issue 31
Shiseido Graph, 1937 Issue 45
Shiseido Graph, 1937 Issue 49
Shiseido Hanatsubaki, January 1940
Shiseido Hanatsubaki, March 1952
Shiseido Hanatsubaki, July 1953
Shiseido Hanatsubaki, April 1960
Shiseido Hanatsubaki, June 1962
Hanatsubaki, Shiseido’s “corporate culture magazine”, still continues today. Its name is derived from the Japanese camellia flower and which of course Shiseido has also created a whole line of Tsubaki hair products.
See more images at the Shiseido Hanatsubaki digital archive.
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 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!
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.
NEC GAZIRU-F image recognition tech integrates fashion magazine mobile shopping for smartphone, tablet camerasWritten 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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“.
Orders are being taken for the neo-kotatsu, though it will set you back at least ¥255,000 ($2,500).
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.
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 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.
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.
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.