BUSINESS

MIXED RESULTS

Cancelled orders because of the slump in the domestic retail market

JAPAN

July 2020

Contributor: SUMIKO WAKASA

We can say that Japanese model SPA (speciality store retailer of private label apparel manufacturing) is doing well in the fashion field.
One of the representatives of these cases is Fast Retailing Co. Ltd., owner of Uniqlo etc., which has 3.648 stores around the world (as of end of February 2020). Uniqlo’s sales in April 2020 (the most difficult Covid-19 month in Japan) decreased by 56.5 % compared to the same period of the previous year. However, business at other specialty store chains and department stores decreased by 60-90 %.

One of the reasons for Uniqlo’s relative success is because they adapted the concept of “Life Wear” (clothes associated with daily life) into staple fashion items with high functionality. It’s also because consumers appreciate their manifesto to constantly improve and innovate.

On the other hand, the Japanese textile industry is in a serious condition due to cancelled orders and because of the slump in the domestic retail market from March to May. This slump was because apparel companies and retailers had too much stock of S/S 2020 items and could not make plans for A/W 2020/21, then delaying the textile orders. However, some textile manufacturers, who are strong in exports, say that the decline is less than expected and the impact is a small.

Uniqlo Harajuku, opened in June 2020

Teijin Frontier and Murata Manufacturing’s new “Antibacterical fiber by power of electricity”

STREET & FASHION

LOOKING FOR CONNECTIONS

“Twin Coordination” is the pervasive trend amongst girls around 20-years-old

JAPAN

July 2020

The style called “Twin Coordination” is the pervasive trend amongst girls around 20 years-old. Instead of looking to celebrities as ideal images of fashion, they relate to influencers and non-professional models chosen by magazine readers. They are looking for empathy and friendship.

Along with this zone called “Young” among elder women, there is also an independent woman “Super-Adult” look that originated with Phoebe Philo when she was the creative director of Celine. This look has continued for the past year, even after Phoebe resigned, and now they are looking for a new “Post-Phoebe” story.

While these two major looks are strong, what seems to have declined is the market for late 20-30 year olds – an area called “Red Letters” (named after a type of fashion magazine). Their fashion was “Kawaii”, chosen to attract men’s attention. This type of fashion, rather unique to Japan, has been going on for a long time with evolving changes: in fact, these “Icon Women” still exist as TV announcers etc.

But its current decline comes as this age group of “Icon Women” shifts its attention from their clothes to body-awareness and well-being in the kind of water they drink and the kind of exercise they do. For example, because of the need to have a ‘bust like hers’, the night bra, worn in bed while sleeping, is now a popular item. It’s part of the “Stay Home” culture that came with Covid-19, and products in this category are selling well on E-commerce. This situation will continue for some time.

The “Twin Coordination” look

Night Bra

Pyjama Bra

Super-adult Look by Akira Naka

Super adult look

SUSTAINABILITY

GREATER INTEREST

Sales in fields such as fair-trade products and organic material products are increasing

JAPAN

July 2020

Basically, interest in sustainability issues is increasing. However, due to the ambiguity of its definition, it is not possible to give statistical data. However, there is no doubt that sales in fields such as fair-trade products and organic material products are increasing. For example, the main textile products of MUJI, a representative of lifestyle SPA, with 1.000 stores in Japan and overseas and a more than ¥430 billion turnover, are based on organic cotton, organic linen as well as various other sustainable materials such as recycled cotton and wool. Products are also being pursued from the perspectives of fair trade and worker safety.

In the beginning, sales of sustainable products were slow. Many consumers, even if they wanted, did not buy items either because they were not clearly explained and identified or were often buried away in retail stores under other merchandise. But, thanks to the greater online shopping experience gained during the Covid-19 epidemic, more consumers now understand how easy it is to find detailed information about products.

In turn, more brands are catching on to the importance of sustainability issues. However, there are could be problems. Because of the economic downturn caused by the pandemic, buyers, even those strongly in favour of responsibly made products, could be forced back into low price, budget oriented merchandise.

Wedding dress from organic cotton brand Avanti

An atelier of the brand Ricci Everyday which is running an ethical project in Uganda

Baycrew’s, the multiple-store group, has opened a new shop called Circulable Supply specialising in the re-sale of it’s employees’ old purchases

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