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Bags Are This Summer's Must-Have Item (September 12, 2006)

Cutely shaped straw bags (Ryujirou Izumi)
Women all around town can be seen carrying straw bags, whose cool, light appearance is perfect for the summer. Though the bags have been in fashion for a number of years, their popularity this year is unprecedented. Until now, most straw bags tended to be casual and inexpensive, with an Asian or beach-resort tone. But this year, a growing number of shops specializing in imported and domestic designer brands have begun carrying them, and a large number of high-quality bags have been marketed. Some feature trim or decorations made from leather and ribbon, which present an unusual contrast to the straw itself, and the lineup has grown to include a full range of colors and styles.

The Choice of Working Women
Straw bags are no longer just for weekend outings but have become all-occasion items with a place in women's everyday routines. The bags are particularly popular among working women in their twenties and thirties, who favor reasonably priced bags costing around ¥5,000 ($43 at ¥115 to the dollar), as well as foreign imports priced between ¥10,000 ($87) and ¥20,000 ($174). Also popular are designer-brand bags from Samantha Thavasa and Coach, which tend to be priced between ¥10,000 and ¥60,000 ($522).

Classic designs are also popular (Color & Design Research Room of Kyoritsu Women's Junior College)

Boxy bags with leather handles, larger bags that can hold A4-sized documents, and other bags that can be used for work are selling especially well. The bags can be paired with dresses for a softer, more feminine look, but they also go well with slightly mannish short-sleeved jackets and pants sets and suits. This versatility is a major part of their appeal.

Some bags are cute, featuring a corsage, embroidered beads, or braided ribbons as decoration, while others are more flashy, featuring rhinestones, or are inspired by Asian styles, with wooden beads or sea shells. There are bags for all outfits and occasions. Some women at fireworks festivals and other summer events this year could be seen wearing cotton kimono and carrying straw bags. The bags are a perfect choice because they have a light, airy appearance and go well with traditional Japanese clothing.

The Bag of Choice
Until recently, high-priced, top-of-the-line imported handbags were a status symbol. But today, designer goods have flooded the market, and everybody - from office workers to middle-aged homemakers and even the trendy "gals" in their teens and twenties - seems to own one. Designer handbags are no longer as exclusive as they once were.

By contrast, women are choosing straw bags for their reasonable price, their suitability for the summer season, and the possibility of matching them up with many different styles.

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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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