Cheaper 'Fast Fashion' Booms in Japan

Recessionistas head to cheaper chain stores in once-superstylish district
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 18, 2009 3:22 PM CDT
Shoppers exit the main entrance of the Chanel Ginza Building in Tokyo's Ginza shopping district, December 8, 2004 in Tokyo, Japan. Cheaper clothing stores are becoming more popular in Japan now.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – In Tokyo’s Harajuku district, designer brands are making way for cheaper “fast fashion” stores, where $100 buys an outfit, bag, shoes, and accessories. The most recent chain to debut, Forever 21, drew massive crowds—in a scene reminiscent of November, when 2,500 did the same thing next door at H&M’s opening. Fast fashion “is a hot issue in Japan’s fashion industry,” one analyst tells Time.

Rather than cutting off spending entirely, Japanese recessionistas are buying more down-market items—a “Gucci handbag and Forever 21 top” attitude, Forever 21’s president says; the chain plans to open more than 100 stores in Japan. With luxury-brand sales in Japan expected to decline 10%, these stores seem primed for success—but analysts warn they’ll need to pay more attention to quality to succeed. (Read more Japan stories.)