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Shops Offer Growing Range of Summer Kimono Designs (July 7, 2006)

Marc Jacobs-designed yukata available only in Japan. (Marc by Marc Jacobs / Look)
Unlined cotton kimono called yukata have long been worn by people attending the Tanabata "star festival," fireworks displays, and other traditional summer events held around Japan. But in addition to these, today men and women have also begun dressing up in yukata to attend soccer and baseball matches, club events, and outdoor parties, and the range of occasions when they are worn is growing.

The 2006 Collection
Yukata's popularity began to rise in the late 1990s, when traditional Japanese goods, retro kimono fabrics, and vintage kimono enjoyed a resurgence in popularity. At that time, nearly all yukata in the shops were for women, but a few years ago men's yukata started to increase in number, and today there are even yukata for dogs being marketed to meet the demands of well-to-do, doting pet owners.

A yukata featuring an orchid and dragon motif (Takashimaya Co., Ltd.)

Nowadays it is not uncommon for women to add a new yukata to their wardrobe every year. Women's yukata come in a wide range of designs and colors, from colorful pink and light blue to sophisticated black, gray, and purple tones. Most yukata are priced at around ¥30,000 ($260 at ¥115 to the dollar), and the obi (sash) used to tie the garment at the waist costs about ¥10,000 ($87). Though not cheap, sales have risen steadily and the market is strong.

This year's yukata have a feminine touch, reflecting general fashion trends. Popular designs include rose and cherry blossom patterns against a background of white, pink, and other pale colors; a hint of lace around the neckline or obi; and a hook-on obi with a ribbonlike butterfly knot and ornamental obi clasp shaped like a corsage. Brand-name yukata have also appeared, with a Marc by Marc Jacobs yukata for the Japanese market priced at ¥48,300 ($420), and a yukata created by Dress Camp, a popular label in Tokyo fashion shows, featuring a stunning orchid and dragon motif selling for ¥39,900 ($347).

A yukata with a lace-trimmed neckline (Takashimaya Co., Ltd.)

Yukata featuring traditional patterns, such as morning glories, dragonflies, and chrysanthemums, remain favorites. But unconventional designs with replaceable collars and obi clasps, which are a departure from tradition, are also selling well. Many shoppers are buying matching tabi socks and other items to create a stylish traditional outfit. The range of choices is truly diverse.

The men's yukata are also eye-catching. Shop displays with men and women in matching yukata have been set up, and sales of men's yukata in chic black tones, tiger patterns, and other designs have been increasing. Last summer, women tended to wear yukata while their dates wore ordinary clothes, but this year men are more interested in fashion, and couples decked out in yukata are likely to be a common sight.

An obi adorned with a corsage (Takashimaya Co., Ltd.)

Marking Life Events
Apart from Yukata, traditional formal kimono continue to be worn on occasions marking major life transitions. Children, especially girls, wear them for the Shichi-go-san (7-5-3) Festival, when three- and seven-year-old girls and five-year-old boys go to a Shinto shrine with their parents to wish for a safe and healthy future. Young women, meanwhile, dress up in furisode kimono with sleeves draping down to the ground for January's coming-of-age ceremonies, which mark the passage to adulthood of 20-year-old men and women. And women customarily wear plain white kimono during their wedding ceremony.

The above mentioned Kimono tend not to be used as everyday wear, because they are difficult to handle and store, hard to put on properly, and costly. Yukata, by contrast, are easy to wear and care for, making them much more wearer-friendly. Young women today, it seems, are coming to regard them as a stylish garment that can be worn in place of a dress or suit.

Related video
Japan Video Topics : The Yukata Fashion Boom

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Copyright (c) 2006 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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