When walking down any given street in a major Japanese city, it is almost guaranteed that every male passerby is dressed in the latest fashion styles straight off of the runways of New York City, London, Paris, Milan, and Tokyo. Upon arrival in Japan, it becomes clear that for Japanese men, fashion is serious business. From scarves, to bags, and even wallets, fashion sense is a priority for men everywhere in Japan. How do they afford all of those nice clothes? I think I have discovered their (not so secret) secret.
To begin, the fashion sense of Japanese men can be summarized through a look at the latest runway shows and fashion photography magazines around the globe. From plumbers, to students, to train conductors, to wealthy businessmen, every Japanese man is always dressed to impress. In the United States, there is a stigma that if a man is fashionable, he is gay or a “metrosexual.” The Japanese overlook stereotypes. For example, nearly every man carries a male form of a purse or shoulder bag. This is out of necessity for supplies while walking around the city, but the bags also serve as striking pieces on their own.
While shopping in the Sakae shopping district in Nagoya yesterday, I discovered how they get such trendy bags for reasonable prices. The answer was found at the Gap store. Yes, the same chain from America; however, the merchandise is completely different in Japan. A leather shoulder or handbag was marked down to the surprisingly low price of 3,000 yen, or around $35 U.S. The key to finding the perfect Japanese bag, shop mid-level chain stores, and there are bound to be sales.
Aside from bags, Japanese men take great pride in assembling daily outfits. Men match cardigans, button-ups, scarves, jackets, pants, jeans, capris, and basically any other item of fashion imaginable. The key to their outfits is fashion magazines and surprisingly, the custom-built outfits on the mannequins in stores.
My search for Japanese men’s clothing began at high-end department stores, such as the world-renowned Mitsukoshi, as well as Parco, which hosts international fashion designers. I even checked Matsuzakaya Department Store, which was founded in the 17th century and is attributed with helping to bring international fashions to Japan. This search was not fruitful, as the clothes were far too expensive.
Then I stumbled upon the holy grail of reasonably priced men’s fashion: UNIQLO. I have discussed this store in previous articles for its discount “straight off the runway” men’s fashions. The easiest comparison – it is the Japanese version of H&M. Set on the fifth floor of a shopping complex, the men’s section was larger than most stores in U.S. malls. I found scarves, shirts, pants, and even backpacks for incredibly reasonable prices. For those in the U.S., UNIQLO offers online shopping. A combination of sales at chain stores, as well as UNIQLO, is the key to constructing a fashionable Japanese wardrobe for less.
So if you want to look your best, give these tips a try!