All About Japan

Japan May Just Have a New Fashion Capital

Shopping Fashion Kumamoto

For the past several years, Kumamoto has steadily been building itself up as a fashion mecca of Japan. Now, it’s come to the point where some would argue that if you want to see the future of Japan’s fashion, don’t look to Tokyo, but Kumamoto instead.

Kumamoto City has a history of attracting high-end fashion. From 1985, when the designer menswear store Paul Smith opened up their first store in Japan in the city, to 2015, when the American boutique Need Supply Co. opened its second Japanese store (and third in the entire world) in Kumamoto. Considering their first store was opened in Shibuya, going to Kumamoto next has to be indicative of something.

Perhaps it’s because of the other luxury brand stores in Kumamoto City, where the likes of Beams, Giorgio Armani, Gianfranco Ferré, and more are common sights. Sure, simply having a bunch of high-end names like that might not seem incredibly relevant, but it’s important to keep in mind: expensive stores like that can only exist if there’s a demand. And there'll only be a demand for luxury brands if people in the area are fashion-conscious.

But why would the people of Kumamoto be so concerned about fashion? There are a couple of theories, the first being that because the population of Kumamoto City is much smaller compared to other cities, fashion tends to spread quickly and burn out even quicker, so people go through trends faster than anywhere else. That, combined with the people of Kumamoto having a tendency to show off a bit, is a recipe for everyone trying to create the next big fashion boom.

Since the population is so fashion-conscious, it’s the perfect barometer to find out what products will sell and should be continued in other stores. This kind of marketing by luxury brand stores has led to an interesting phenomenon: something that's hip and happening in Tokyo might already be “so last month” in Kumamoto. In fact, Kumamoto City is so into fashion that every year since 2011 the city puts on the Waasa Moda fashion festival to bring Kumamoto fashion to the world stage.

The fashion show's title no doubt refers to the local word wasamon meaning someone who always strives to be on the cutting-edge of whatever is popular. Here are some photos from the fashion-conscious in Kumamoto. What do you think? Are they wasamon or just whatever?

Would you pick up these fashionable hitchhikers?

Looking classy and setting trends at the national retail giant GU in Kumamoto.

A little bit of cheating since Disney is always in fashion.

You know it’s super high fashion when you have no idea what’s going on.

And then of course there’s Kumamon, Kumamoto’s adorable bear mascot that everyone loves. He looks good on anything. Whether it's shoes...

or socks!

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Even Kumamon is into fashion as he stars in his very own fashion show to commemorate his birthday on March 4th, 2011.

While we’re not quite sure if Kumamoto City has quite overtaken Tokyo in the fashion world just yet, they're certainly on the right track to getting there.

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