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Summer’s here — yukata, sales and back-to-school satchels

by Misha Janette and Samuel Thomas

Mintdesigns’ refreshing yukata

Mintdesigns is a staple brand of the Japanese fashion scene, with its hot-ticket Tokyo Fashion Week shows featuring acclaimed artisan textiles patterned with whimsical, pop motifs. It’s no wonder, then, that it’s decided to produce its first yukata (traditional summer clothing) this year. It’s more of a surprise that it’s taken the brand this long.

There are three versions available: one prominently sporting the brand’s famous pattern of a paper cut-out child playing with scissors, and two other styles depicting cartoonish zig-zags — the brand’s signature motif. Paired with obi belts made from fabric from Mintdesign’s latest collections, they are progressive and yet still traditional.

These designer-quality yukata cost ¥48,000 (obi, ¥28,000) and can only be found on the 7th floor of the Isetan department store in Shinjuku, within a wide selection of others on sale. (M.J.)

Isetan Shinjuku: 3-14-1 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo. 03-3352-1111; www.mint-designs.com

Cune heads to Paris

Although it turns 20 this year, Cune has remained one of Japan’s best-kept secrets of fantasy-meets-streetwise fashion. Not for much longer, though, as it anticipates a possible emigration to Europe with the first installation of its archives in Paris during Mens Fashion Week in late June.

Imaginative and strange to the core, Cune is a home-grown label that pushes boundaries, making light of subversive themes with bizzare accents, including plushy human innards, off-color pop motifs, and their most recent collaboration with a Japanese insect-fumigation manufacturer that resulted in an unsettling Warhol-esque print. You don’t have to go to Paris to check it out — stop by any of Cune’s boutiques in Harajuku, Shibuya or Shimokitazawa and perhaps get some before everyone else finds out about it. (M.J.)

Cune: 6-6-6 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo. 03-5467-1501; www.cune.jp

Going Undercover at school

Back-to-school shopping season is upon us again, sending doting parents, or more frequently grand-parents, on the hunt for randoseru, those distinctive school rucksacks that will accompany their child throughout the first six years of elementary schooling.

The standardized shape and size of randoseru is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future, but recently there has been an explosion in new colors, embroidery and even studding to give children a sartorial edge — if the parents are willing.

Those who want to send their child off to school with a view to subvert the system should look to the recently released limited-edition collaboration from Porter and Jun Takahashi’s cult label Undercover. Available exclusively at Isetan Shinkuku, the bag toes the line on the outside, but opens to reveal an edgy print from Undercover. It’ll cost ¥71,280, but at least you know it will get used for more than half a decade. (S.T.)

Re-style Kids, Isetan Shinjuku 6F: 3-14-1 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo. 03-3352-1111; www.isetan.co.jp

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s cute tour

Pop starlet and fashionable face of her generation Kyary Pamyu Pamyu is on a tour of a different kind. This time she takes her distinctive fashion sense on the road, starting in Saitama Prefecture on July 25, with plans to visit every region in Japan by summer 2015.

Tokyo had its first taste of the eccentric “Ponponpon” star’s wardrobe in 2013, when a Roppongi Hills exhibition included 10 of her most distinctive stage and music-video outfits. This expanded “Sweet Costumes in the Candy Forest” exhibition, however, promises to deliver more than 30 ensembles, framed in a “kawaii forest” created by art director Sebastian Masuda. Visitors will also be able to try on one of Kyary’s extravagant looks, which should appeal to her “Fashion Monster” following. (S.T.)

www.kyarymuseum.com

Are you set for the summer sales?

If you think that sale season seems to start earlier and earlier every year, you’d be right — the summer sales are already in full swing. But before you empty your wallets, take heed. The best is yet to come.

On July 24, Laforet in Harajuku kicks off with its late-afternoon time sales, which usually creates frenzies with its enticing student discounts. It can be a shopping mosh pit, but there’s bounty in it for those who tough it out. For men, check out Hankyu department store in Ginza, which from July 17 will be offering iconic cult labels, such as Undercover and Kitsune, marked down 50 percent.

A tip for sale beginners — if you hear the phrase “taisho-gai,” know that you’ve picked up a new-arrival or full-price item that is best shopped for when the sale tizzy ends. (M.J.)