Distinctive Headgear Is All the Rage (November 14, 2003)
Hats have always combined fashion with practicality, offering
protection from both the summer sun and the winter cold. But right now hats are
experiencing a boom in popularity that has made them an essential item regardless
of the season. More and more people are wearing hats of distinctive designs that,
unlike in past hat booms, are not constrained by fashion trends. Rather than famous
brand boutiques, it is specialty shops stocking hats created by daring young designers
that are at the forefront of the current craze. More and more of these shops are
popping up in the trendy Harajuku and Shibuya areas of Tokyo, and they are often
packed with teens and twenty-somethings seeking out their next hat purchases.
|An example of the distinctive hats now popular.
The New Fashion Essential
Trendy hat shops and designers are often described using the word "charisma"
(karisuma in Japanese) by young people. In the vernacular
of young Japanese, the word is used to denote those who are exceptionally skilled
or talented in a particular field and are popular among young people. The word
karisuma has been applied to such people as housewives
(exceptionally skilled homemakers), and buyers (those with a particular knack
for purchasing products for retail). In many cases, the adjective karisuma
has roughly the same connotations as "celebrity" in English. When applied
to shops or hats, it suggests that something is highly distinctive and stands
out from the crowd.
Under this definition, the epitome of a karisuma hat
shop is CA4LA (pronounced "kashira"). This spacious store, located along
Meiji-dori, one of Harajuku's main streets, stocks some 3,000 items. Part of the
store's appeal lies in the fact that it offers hats that are not available anywhere
else. CA4LA has more than 10 in-house designers and unveils new products every
week. Although CA4LA's popularity was sparked the revelation that its customers
include a number of showbiz stars, the store's product lineup appeals greatly
to young people, as it consists mainly of affordably priced casual items costing
an average of ¥5,000 ($45 at ¥110 to the dollar). CA4LA has three locations
in Harajuku alone and 14 locations nationwide. Over the past three years, the
store has seen its sales increase about fourfold.
Another hat shop on Meiji-dori, Override 9999 (pronounced "override nine
by four"), is also expanding rapidly, with four locations in the Harajuku
area and over 20 locations nationwide.
Department Stores Join the Fray
The demand for highly individualistic hats is also sparking big changes in department
stores' and clothing stores' hat sales areas, which have tended to be sparse and
nondescript. This fall, two department stores - Seibu in Tokyo's Ikebukuro district
and the main Matsuzakaya store in Nagoya - have set up karisuma
hat sections. The Isetan store in Shinjuku plans to double the size of its men's
hat section. And the Hanshin department store has set up a corner where hats created
by young designers are showcased in a display that changes every two to three
weeks. New companies are entering the hat arena as well. Sagami, a kimono retailer,
has opened hat shops in Harajuku and Yokohama called Shazbot. And Cricket,
a retailer of ties and other accessories, opened its Hatjazz shops in two locations,
Daikanyama and Harajuku.
A Simple Way of Expressing Oneself
During the summer, fedoras and mesh caps made of natural grasses found favor among
both men and women. Another common sight was unlikely combinations of feminine
clothes and baseball caps, while, as an extension of the layered look, turbans
were also a hit. This fall has witnessed the renewed popularity of the rounded,
visored berets known as "caskets" that have been a conspicuous presence
since last year. Hats and caps are coming out in a variety of materials, colors,
and shapes, including woolen caps with designs knitted in and hats made of furry
materials like angora.
As to why hats have become entrenched as a fashion accessory over the past few
years, the reason is believed to be that headwear offers the easiest means of
self-expression in the context of a general trend for casual fashion. Even a person
dressed in a simple outfit like pants and a t-shirt can instantly express his
or her personal style just by putting on a hat. Hats are becoming as much an integral
part of young people's wardrobes as other fashion items.
Related Web Sites
CA4LA (Japanese only)
Override 9999 (Japanese only)
Seibu (Japanese only)
Matsuzakaya (Japanese only)
Hanshin (Japanese only)
Sagami (Japanese only)
Copyright (c) 2004 Web Japan. Edited by Japan Echo Inc. based on domestic Japanese news sources. Articles presented here are offered for reference purposes and do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Japanese Government.
(March 7, 2003)
HOT THIS WINTER
(January 15, 2003)
SKIRT ON PANTS
(November 25, 2002)
COZY CAPS KEEP OUT THE COLD
(November 2, 2001)
THE CHARISMATIC LOOK
(December 22, 1999)