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.)