Japanese Fashionology Vol. 03

Denim is the must have, in the fashion world this year!

3243
Asuka Watanabe
Asuka Watanabe

Doctor of Sociology and associate professor

Dr. Watanabe is an associate Professor at Kyoritsu Women's Junior College Department of the Science of Living. She graduated Kyoritsu Women's University with a master’s degree in Home Economics, later graduating from the Tokyo Metropolitan University Graduate School of Humanities with a doctorate in Sociology. She researches contemporary fashion based on street fashion with an emphasis on locations, people and backgrounds. Street Fashion Logic (『ストリートファッション論』,SANNO Institute of Management Publication Dept.), Fashion of Japan (『日本のファッション』,SEIGENSHA Art Publishing, Inc.)

 

The Tokyo streets are full of denim for Spring/Summer 2015. Seems like everyone has some sort of denim item in their fashion. This denim trend illustrates the mentality of the young Japanese. They want to be trendy, but they don’t want to stand out in an unusual way. They’d rather wear something that they don’t stand out from the crowd than wearing something original and unique. This weak attitude in fashion is the logic behind this denim fad. This changes what denim meant in fashion and is a unique phenomenon.

 

Matching denim coveralls. (2015) by Asuka Watanabe & Mariko Yahata

Matching denim coveralls. (2015) by Asuka Watanabe & Mariko Yahata

 

The denim item craze

 

To get a feel of this denim trend, take a look at a picture taken in Harajuku and Shibuya in spring 2015. What do you see? Jeans, denim jackets, denim shirts, denim skirts, denim dresses can be seen everywhere. So interesting trends in dressing in denim is, people are wearing double denim, such as combining denim jackets with denim skirts. Also hoodies made of jersey that look like denim are seen. But the most seen denim product are the jeans. There are so many different kinds of jeans, first of all there are different types of silhouettes, such as skinny, straight, and wide. Then there are the different colors, or acid washed, bleached, damaged, ripped or with patches. There has never been a time in the fashion history where there were so many different kinds of denims in one season.

 

White denim matched with a stripe top. (2015) by Asuka Watanabe & Mariko Yahata

White denim matched with a stripe top. (2015) by Asuka Watanabe & Mariko Yahata

A couple wearing a denim-like hoodie. (2015) by Asuka Watanabe & Mariko Yahata

A couple wearing a denim-like hoodie. (2015) by Asuka Watanabe & Mariko Yahata

 

The background behind the denim craze

 

What is the background behind this major denim craze? The first is that the suppliers flocked into the market with denim products. When looking at this in chronological order, the high-brand collection was shown in October 2014 for the spring and summer collection for 2015. During this collection, the season’s main topics were the comeback of the 70s, which featured folklore fashion and country style fashion. Within that trend, brands such as, BALMAIN, LOUIS VUITTON, GUCCI focused on denim. From this, Japanese fashion trend decided to follow in that direction, and hoped that it will sell well since the Japanese consumption for fashion had a downward trend. Denim items were produced everywhere, from brands that were sold at department stores and boutiques, to fast fashion brands such as UNIQLO and Shimamura. There were various kind of designs and prices, G.U. the younger version of UNIQLO sold jeans from 990yen, and select shops had them for a couple thousand yen, and luxury brands had them for a several tens of thousands of yen.

 

A clean fashion pairing a denim jacket and white jeans. (2015) by Asuka Watanabe & Mariko Yahata

A clean fashion pairing a denim jacket and white jeans. (2015) by Asuka Watanabe & Mariko Yahata

 

Wimpy media with follow-the-leader mentality

 

This denim trend was covered by the fashion magazines, so information about denim was overflowing. When fashion magazine played a big impact in the fashion world, being unique was important. But now that the fashion magazines are not selling so well (because people can access information about the fashion trends via the internet), fashion magazines no longer takes risks, and they have become wimps. They only write about fashion that are safe and not risky. Therefore they all went for the denim trend. Take a look at some of the magazine cover from this spring/summer.

 

From the left, “Let’s get though summer with a denim!” June 2015 edition/Vivi “With denim, shirt and sneakers, I become more polished” June 2015 edition/STORY “Will provide answers to find the perfect denim” May 2015 edition/SENSE “WE LOVE DENIM” June 2015 edition/men's FUDGE

From the left,
“Let’s get though summer with a denim!” June 2015 edition/Vivi
“With denim, shirt and sneakers, I become more polished” June 2015 edition/STORY
“Will provide answers to find the perfect denim” May 2015 edition/SENSE
“WE LOVE DENIM” June 2015 edition/men’s FUDGE

 

As you can see, denims are praised. Even the magazine that doesn’t mention denims on the cover, the cover model would wear denims, or have coordination features about denims. Everyone that’s been to a book store or a convenient store would see these covers, and would know immediately that denims are in, and would feel left out if they don’t follow the trend. Same thing applies to fashion websites and SNS such as Instagram. When you search with keywords like “denim”, “trend”, you would find that many celebrity and models would show off their denim, or even the young non celebrity people would display their way of wearing denims in style.

 

Double denim fashion, popular among men’s fashion. (2015) by Asuka Watanabe & Mariko Yahata

Double denim fashion, popular among men’s fashion. (2015) by Asuka Watanabe & Mariko Yahata

 

You can never go wrong with denim

 

Because of this trend, consumers are buying denims. The psychology behind this is that, he/she wants to dress unique but they are not confident with their fashion style, so if they wear denims, everyone is wearing it too so he/she won’t stand out from the crowd in a bad way. Having the same design as everyone, same silhouette as everyone is boring, so there is the trend to enjoy denim fashion with different variations. This means that as long as you where something that is made of denim, you fit in the crowd, and you can still enjoy fashion within that crowd. But on the other hand, it means that wearing anything other than denims are forbidden.

 

The ripped jeans gives a hard look and feel. (2015) by Asuka Watanabe & Mariko Yahata

The ripped jeans gives a hard look and feel. (2015) by Asuka Watanabe & Mariko Yahata

A parent and a child in denim. (2015) by Asuka Watanabe & Mariko Yahata

A parent and a child in denim. (2015) by Asuka Watanabe & Mariko Yahata

 

Denim used to be a sign of rebel, but look at it now

 

Denim jeans used to be practical working class and cowboy clothing. But it became a clothing for the young generation to be an outlaw from the society, for example in the 1950s the rockers, 1960s the mods, and in 1970s hippies.
But in the 1980s, jeans become the opposite. Designers such as Calvin Klein and DONNA KARAN proposed a formal use of jeans such as the “dinner jeans”. Denim used to be causal before this, but after this proposal, jeans becomes sophisticated and some what luxury.
Then in 1990s, stretch denims were developed. Denim become easy to wear and the silhouette become more fitted. Around this time denim become popular among all generation and it was no longer something for the young generation. Then in the 2000s, fast fashion hits the fashion scene and cheap denim hit the market. Denim became something that everyone wore, and easy to coordinate. But at the same time the identity that denim had was lost. Denim no longer became something to show which group you would like to be associated with.
The young Japanese wear denim so they don’t stand out from their group, but this has totally changed the meaning of the denim. I wonder when the next time denim will become trendy.

 

Both of then in double denim. (2015) by Asuka Watanabe & Mariko Yahata

Both of then in double denim. (2015) by Asuka Watanabe & Mariko Yahata

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