It’s something that I’ve known for years, having criss-crossed to and from Japan every year or so: first knee-high boots are popular in Japan, then they’re popular here. First thick turtlenecks are popular in Japan, then they’re popular here. About 10 years ago Japan was infamous for its extreme reality shows (MXC, anyone?). Now it’s Britain and America. American pop culture has been secretly ripping off Japan for quite some time. I was happy to finally see something about it here:
Nonfiction writer Hideki Kiriyama reveals that Nike Inc, the world’s largest sports and fitness company, is secretly keeping a close eye on Tokyo’s Shibuya district, a favorite hangout of the capital’s youth.
Writingin this month’s issue of Voice, Kiriyama says that Nike always bases its product design on insight that enables it to connect with consumers. The casual product sensibility and taste for bright colors seen in the street fashion that fills the cities of modern Japan, he says, are known as “J sense” and have attracted not only American designers but also young people and children in Asia.
Kiriyama asserts that Japanese “cool,” which involves improving Western designs and colors in a Japanese style, such as by adding transparency or sheen to cosmetic products, is unmistakably beginning to win the hearts of people all over the world.
He laments that in contrast to Nike, which takes inspiration for its designs from Shibuya, the heart of Japanese youth culture, Japan itself has failed to recognize the global value of this culture and can only focus on the decadent aspects of the changes instigated by young people.
He stresses that if rejection is Japan’s only reaction to its youth culture, the country will not be able to recognize the new value created by the new generation. (Foreign Press Center)
He certainly has a point. While ultra-cool Japanese kids have been supplying rich clothing companies with ideas, they have been getting nothing but crap from the press and public opinion.