What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of Japan? Sushi, tea ceremonies, manga, Sakura? Whatever it is, clothing usually isn’t on that list.
Japan, however, has a unique sense of style you won’t find anywhere else in the world. Here are the top 5 Japanese fashion brands you should definitely check out…if you haven’t already.
Bold and bright - that’s how most fashion industry experts would sum up trends in Japan. People express themselves through clothes, and the notion of limits seems to have no justification. Oversized garb, multiple layers, stylish sneakers, and the entire color palette are trending now.
But before you indulge in carefree shopping, there are a few things to remember.
- Convert sizes because, more often than not, Japanese sizes are smaller than their western equivalents.
- Use a VPN when checking prices to avoid dynamic pricing (read: to save more).
- Only shop on official websites to avoid fakes.
- November/December are the best months to shop because of the end of the year sales.
- Most shops in Japan offer cheap alteration services.
The best Japanese fashion brands
Whether you’re a real fashionista or a simple style aficionado, you should check out these Japanese brands that deserve your attention.
- COMME des GARÇONS - For Avant-garde Lovers
This is perhaps the most recognizable Japanese brand. In 1969, it focused on women’s clothing but quickly expanded to offer menswear as well. The avant-garde approach of COMME des GARÇON makes it stand out among other high fashion brands, and you won’t find anything like it.
The founder, Rei Kawakubo, likes to play with everything unnatural, from fabrics to how her clothes make you look. This disruption of form is the main idea behind all CDG collections, and black seems to be dominating the runway. If you’re looking for something unique and exaggerated, check out their fall trends.
- A Bathing APE - Street Fashion at Its Best
Best known for their shark hoodies and camo patterns, A Bathing APE is a lawful Japanese street fashion emperor. The brand was established in 1993 but gained its worldwide popularity in the 2000s thanks to western artists such as Pharell Williams.
BAPE’s clientage is the young generation between 15-30 whose lazy luxury, along with the movie Planet of the Apes, inspired its creator, Nigo. You will find various features on their clothing from popular media such as SpongeBob, Marvel, or Hello Kitty.
And it goes without saying that you should go and see the Shibuya BAPE store if you’re ever in Tokyo.
- Sasquatchfabrix. - Make a Statement with Your Gear
The name speaks for itself…well, at least to a certain extent. This Japanese brand likes everything oversized but don’t worry; you won’t look like the Big Foot. Its main designers, Hiromichi Ochiai and Daisuke Yokoyama, create harmonious clothing inspired by the 90s.
You will find a perfect combination of traditional Japanese motifs, modern patterns, and technical fabrics. The brand’s philosophy is to create vernacular gear that’s aesthetic within the framework. If you’ve never heard about Sasquatchfabrix., it’s high time you checked their latest collection, especially if you’re into Western movies.
- Cav Empt - “Buyer Beware”
Cav Empt was created by Sk8thing and Toby Feltwell. But unlike any other brand’s, the story behind Cav Empt is genuinely marvelous, yet clandestine. It was when the earthquake struck Japan in 2011, destroying one-fifth of the country’s nuclear reactors, that two talented artists decided to launch their clothing brand. One may say it was odd to start any venture back then, but Sk8thing and Toby Feltwell were visioners and saw potential.
Today their collections seem to combine old things in new ways. It’s a post-modern exploration of the world, but defining C.E.’s ideas may be an uphill struggle. What’s more, its latest slogan, “Silly fancy goods. Designed to create the illusion of a full life.” makes you think the brand aims to troll their customers. But it’s not like you haven’t been warned, is it?
- Uniqlo - Affordable Yet High Quality
This brand doesn’t need an introduction. It was established in the 80s, and today it has over 1900 stores all over the world. Despite the name, their clothes may not seem that much unique. Well, this is where you’re wrong.
Uniqlo’s philosophy is to make simple yet high-quality clothes that are meant to last. The brand has also adopted sustainability measures aimed at environmental balance and building a better society. And the best thing? They’re super affordable.