Japanese Fashion Article in The Atlantic

The Atlantic magazine has an article in their March 2009 issue about Japanese fashion. The article is another in the growing list of voices worrying that Japanese consumers are losing their taste for high end foreign fashion brands Here is a quote from early in the article:

Luxury brands are concerned, to put it mildly, about what’s happening in Japan. Japanese shoppers, at home and abroad, account for about half of the global luxury-goods market. But according to a study released last fall , the luxury market here was expected to shrink by 7 percent in 2008, after falling by 2 percent the previous year.

And of course we get to this:

…observers believe Japanese people have changed their attitude toward luxury consumption.

They go on about the bad economy and freeters and all the other factors that may or may not be involved in these supposed changing attitudes. They then mention that H&M had 5000 people waiting in line on opening day – and then, the very next sentence has a quote from someone saying it’s not about money but personal style. Of course, waiting in line with 5000 other people to get into a chain department store to buy the same items as the other people in line just screams, “It’s not about money, but having my own personal style!” Isn’t H&M is supposed to be cheaper than many other foreign brands? Oh yeah, that too.

Harajuku Shoppers Waiting In Line
Harajuku Shoppers Waiting In Line

There is no doubt that things are changing in Japan. It wouldn’t be Japan if things weren’t changing all the time – but it’s not clear yet exactly what these changes are, what’s causing them, and where they’re going.

It makes sense that people aren’t buying LV in a bad economy. It’s also true that Japanese fashionistas have a lot more options as far as high end and mid level domestic brands these days. Are young Japanese shoppers really getting ready to give up on non-Japanese luxury brands altogether – or will we be hearing a different story once the economy starts to boom again, they get older and start making good money, and want to differentiate themselves from the next generation?

Time will tell.

Read the full article here.

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