[From April Issue 2010]
In the last few years, a clothing style known as “fast fashion” has become popular in Japan. The trend is to incorporate affordable pricing and manufacture bulk quantities to sell in short-term cycles. UNIQLO, with over 790 stores across Japan, is one of the largest brands offering this style.
In 1998, UNIQLO offered fleece sweatshirts for 1,900 yen, and sold 8.5 million pieces. From then on yearly improvements were made, and cheap, durable fleece garments soon became regular winter wear for everyone.
Conversely, a new trend called “Remake Fashion” is also attracting attention. “Remake Fashion” is ready-made clothing altered to one’s own taste. Located just a few minutes walk from JR Omiya Station (Saitama Prefecture), Ichinomiya Dori is known as a second-hand fashion street with about 20 used clothing retail shops open for business.
“OMIYA momo-kuri” is just one such popular store with Tokyo branches in both Kichijoji and Shimokitazawa. Not only do they sell second-hand clothes, they also trade in retro clothing acquired from overseas. But before selling any item, they alter the pieces to fit with Japanese sensibilities, adding designs to lapels, and changing the buttons to a more appealing set. Their unique designs and colorations are popular with the local students and other fashion-conscious young people. Even some performers shop there for their stage wardrobe.
Many customers visit often because they want to “wear something different from everyone else.” SAKAI Hidetaka, a 2nd year university student who’s been stopping by the shop since high school, says friends often ask him, “Where did you buy your outfit?” “Second hand clothes are cheaper than new clothes. Moreover, the unique designs are popular with the younger generation,” says store manager NOZAWA Ayumi.
Located in the Lumine Omiya Building, “Reform and Recycle JUST” alters customers’ clothes to fit their exact size. Customers stop by not just to lift hemlines of their pants and skirts, but to also adjust favorite items that no longer fit. The shop even gets customers who bring in new, recently purchased business suits.
“Sometimes the alterations cost more than the actual business suit,” says shop owner, OGAWA Miyoko. She says that pulling out all the threads and retaking measurements is painstaking and time-consuming, even for experienced staff, and that altering a two-piece suit to properly fit the body can cost upwards of 30,000 ~ 40,000 yen.
It seems that the inclination is to alter second-hand clothes for “a cheaper and unique look,” and new clothes for “a better fit despite the fee.” Tailored clothes are very expensive, with remakes and alterations much more convenient, and, the extra care makes people enjoy them more.
Text: MUKAI Natsuko