Five features from the JT loosely linked under the themes of fashion and design:

  • Japan’s fashion scene is getting smaller in more ways than one, writes Samuel Thomas. Boutique shops and small brands are facing closure, with World Inc. announcing it is snipping seven brands — and a whopping 450 shops — from its retail portfolio, as the pandemic bites. Meanwhile, beauty influencer Akiico is stepping up to promote petite sizes.
  • While most of the fashion world is hurting, aggressively anti-fashion utility wear brand Workman is enjoying a rise in sales as customers get practical, benefitting from the same trend that has helped Uniqlo thrive amid the gloom, notes Thomas. Meanwhile, in a sign of the times, Valentino turns to a virtual Japanese celebrity in a bid to appeal to a young global audience.
Iittala Omotesando store & café | IITTALA
Iittala Omotesando store & café | IITTALA
  • Finnish design brand Iittala is celebrating its 140th anniversary with a new flagship store in Omotesando designed by Kengo Kuma. It’s a harmonious mesh of all things Finnish and Japanese, writes Danielle Demetriou, which should come as no surprise given the affinities between the two cultures, including a deep-rooted respect for craftsmanship, simplicity and nature.
  • As a way to promote manufacturing industries in Aichi Prefecture, Aichi Design Vision paired companies with up-and-coming designers to create brand new homeware products. In this month’s On Design column, Mio Yamada looks at the four resulting items, hewn out of aluminum, plastic, card and wood, respectively.
  • Three-tiered lacquered wooden lunch boxes, known as yusanbako, were once a traditional part of childhood culture in Tokushima Prefecture, writes Louise George Kittaka. But their use dwindled last century, and these kawaii design classics were well on their way to becoming a charming footnote in local history — until an unlikely trio of collaborators stepped in.