Sunday, 28 June 2009

Fast fashion boom heating up Tokyo's Harajuku area

U.S. and European shops offering stylish but inexpensive clothing have created a ‘‘fast fashion’’ boom in Tokyo’s trend-setting Harajuku district.An outlet of Forever 21 from Los Angeles, which opened in May, has become so popular that shoppers, mostly teenage girls and women in their 20s and 30s, sometimes have to line up for half an hour on weekends.Vocational school student Mayuko Yamada, 20, said after buying a blue stole and a skirt for 3,500 yen in the shop, ‘‘These are cheap and ‘kawaii’ (cute).’’Many foreign clothing stores including H&M (Hennes & Mauritz) from Sweden, Gap from the United States and Zara from Spain are located nearby.The stores try to attract to young people by putting new low-priced products on sale immediately and changing lineups frequently, sometimes every day, according to Takahiro Yamamura, a professor at Bunka Fashion Graduate University in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward.Masayuki Kusunose, editor-in-chief of popular monthly ‘‘Fashion Hambai’’ (Sale), said many women are drawn to the shops as they allow customers to enjoy seasonal fashions without spending much amid the economic slump.‘‘As consumers are seeking inexpensive things, Forever 21 made inroads in Japan at a very good time. That made headlines and the outlet has become something like a tourism spot,’’ Kusunose said.