Men in Japan are shopping for women’s clothing like never before, according to research by Rakuten’s flea market app Rakuma, a popular online used goods marketplace.
A simple stroll through the streets of downtown Tokyo makes one thing clear: Young people in Japan are serious about fashion. To stay trendy in Japan, one needs a personal style that simply cannot be achieved with a day at the mall.
Finding fashion from home
In addition to recent shop-from-home trends driven by lifestyle changes, young fashionistas have plenty of compelling reasons to head online. With millions of fashion items to suit every style, Rakuten Ichiba is one particularly popular destination. But it’s used goods platforms like Rakuma where the serious treasure hunters snag their trophies.
Thanks to this fashionable reputation, the team behind Rakuma enjoys truly up-to-the-minute insights on what’s happening in Japan’s fashion world. To shed some light on the latest trends in men’s fashion, Rakuma asked a broad section of its male-identifying shoppers in their teens and twenties the following question: Have you ever purchased ladies fashion items for yourself?
In four years, the share of men buying ladies fashion items in the teens and twenties demographics more than doubled — up to 8.5%, from just 3.9% according to Rakuma’s purchase data.
Who are these fashionable young men?
Eager to dig a little deeper, the Rakuma team surveyed 780 young males who answered in the positive. First order of business: Why?
More than half responded that it was simply because they liked the design. 35% preferred the “silhouettes” of the ladies’ items they bought; 25% remarked that they just fit better; while others cited the wider variety of colors and the different textures women’s clothes have to offer.
If the survey revealed one clear piece of data, it’s that the men shopping for women’s clothes on Rakuma are fashion enthusiasts. 95% noted that they wanted to enjoy fashion regardless of the gender on the label, while 70% considered themselves to have aesthetic sensibilities (in other words, a working fashion sense).
One factor helping this trend along is popular music: 42% of the shoppers revealed that they had been influenced by their favorite musicians and artists. Of these musically-inclined fashion-lovers, 70% cited J-pop stars as their icons, while 37% opted for K-pop.
Another 35% credited their own fashionable family and friends, while 33% admitted that their fashion drive came from a desire to look good on social media.
Was the pandemic a turning point?
The Rakuma team also asked the group about the role the pandemic played in their aesthetic choices, to which nearly 60% reported an increased fashion drive. The main reasons cited were a desire to take better care of their spiritual and physical health, as well as to have more confidence in themselves once the pandemic is over.
In any case, it’s clear that Japan’s fashionably-minded youth are less and less concerned about the gender norms of the industry. Given Japan’s status as a trend-setter in the fashion world, it could be only a matter of time before other markets follow suit.