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Chic Rain Boots and Umbrellas Lift the Wet Season Gloom (July 11, 2005)

Colorful rain boots (AIGLE)
Japan's rainy season, which starts in mid-June, is now in full swing. During this season of regular downpours, people try not to set foot outdoors unless they have to. When they do have to go outside, they resign themselves to wearing clothes and shoes that they do not mind ruining. But the colorful rain boots and uniquely shaped umbrellas that have hit the stores recently are enough to make a person look forward to rainy days. Now there are even shops that specialize in stylish rain gear, and fashion-conscious Japanese are finding that they can actually enjoy the rainy season.

Rainy-Season Chic Starts at the Feet
The standard for rainy-day footwear is boots or high-topped shoes. Until recently, most rain boots have been drab-colored and functional rather than fashionable. But this year's crop of colorful, stylish boots has captured the attention of fashion-conscious young women. It all started when a French maker of outdoor goods came out with boots in "juicy" colors for women and children. The ones for women had a pansy motif while those for kids featured fruit patterns. Other manufacturers soon jumped in with novel designs of their own. A rainwear specialty shop that recently opened in Tokyo's trendy Shibuya district sells galoshes patterned after regular boot styles - Western boots, for example. These new designs are finding particular favor among style-conscious consumers who dread setting out in the morning in rain boots only to end up looking out of place if the rain lets up during the day. With other stores offering rain boots in flower patterns, leopard prints, and lace-up designs, there is a huge variety of puddle-compliant footwear on the market these days.

Rain boots come in a variety of designs and patterns (Raindrops)

Among those who still do not like the idea of wearing galoshes - fashionable or otherwise - to work, water-repellent shoes are popular. They are made of GoreTex fabric, which keeps rain out yet allows sweat and other moisture to escape.

Umbrellas That Put the Fun in Functional
Umbrellas in new shapes are also making a splash this season. The "twin umbrella," which covers two people, is a hit not only with couples but also with mothers of small children. Another new style is an umbrella that is wide at the back, creating a bubble of dryness that has found particular favor among backpack wearers. Also drawing attention this season are umbrellas in fabrics made using traditional Japanese weaving methods. To add to their beauty, these umbrellas have a smooth silhouette that is nearly a perfect circle, achieved through the use of more ribs than standard umbrellas.

A Japanese umbrella (Raindrops)

Alongside these design trends, the evolution of the utilitarian folding umbrella continues apace. Folding umbrellas are getting smaller and lighter all the time. The latest models, less than 20 centimeters long and weighing in at a mere 100 grams, are essential gear for big-city dwellers who are constantly zipping between the great wet outdoors and the offices and subway stations of the city.

These innovative and stylish products are helping people to enjoy a season that is usually thought of as gray and gloomy.

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Copyright (c) 2005 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.

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