Bold, bright and quirky labels a win with Japanese fashionistas

Bold, bright and quirky labels a win with Japanese fashionistas
Thai brand Sretsis launched by three sisters opens its first Japanese outlet in Minami-Aoyama in Tokyo in October.

TOKYO - Fashion designers from South Korea, Thailand and Taiwan are becoming increasingly popular with Japanese women in their 20s and 30s, who are drawn to their use of unique colour combinations and interesting designs. Asian labels often take a daring approach to fashion, unlike many of their counterparts from Japan and the West.

"At first sight I liked the vibrant colors and distinctive patterns of the clothes,'' said Rie Shishido, a 27-year-old company executive. "They look absolutely different from clothes by Japanese and Western designers." She is talking about fleamadonna, a women's clothing brand started by South Korean designer Jei Kim in 2007. The label was brought to Japan in 2010 and is sold at about 20 stores.

Kim said, "I want to explore unique styles to make my customers as happy as possible with fun designs." Her brand exhibits a whimsical, quirky vibe. A blouse and skirt, for example, project the image of a rainbow but in different shades of purple, not the conventional seven colors. The brand is also known for its joyfully unusual combinations of fabrics and colors. For instance, Kim boldly added blue lace to a yellow mesh dress. Fleamadonna tops range from 15,000 yen (S$170) to 20,000 yen.

Asian fast fashion brands, especially South Korean labels like Spao and Misso as well as the online shopping site Dholic have been experiencing fast growth. However, it is the designer brands that offer their own inspirational work that are quickly winning over fashion-conscious consumers.

The main feature of these labels are their stylish patterns and inspiring colour combinations, something not seen among Japanese and Western brands. Shishido said, "Although their colour choices seem like a mismatch at first glance, they are actually very careful when selecting and combining colors for their clothing. So, wearing their colour combinations give me a more fashionable, edgy look."

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