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Japanese women are looking to Korea for style inspiration

Does the aura of fashion capitals such as Paris, London, New York and Milan cross borders to the point of inspiring the style of the inhabitants of Japan? While Japanese women acknowledge being influenced by European and American fashion, it is Korean style, worn by K-pop icons, that is having the biggest impact on what women are wearing on the streets of Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya.

Japanese women don’t care about French chic, Italian originality or New York polish because they prefer Korean style. According to a recent study conducted among users of the Rakuten-owned Rakuma marketplace application in Japan, Korean fashion is by far the most influential when it comes to the style of Japanese women, from all generations (or nearly), ahead of the United States, France, Italy the United Kingdom, Spain and China.

The breakdown indicates that more than three quarters of Japanese girls and teenagers aged 10 to 20 (77%) answered Korea to the question “Which country besides Japan do you reference the most when it comes to fashion?” Japanese women in their 20s (57%), 30s (36%), 40s (24%), and 60s (22%) also see Korea as a must-have fashion reference. Only those in their 50s place France at the top of the list of most influential countries in terms of style (23.5%), but Korea remains in the top three (21%). Note that for Japanese women aged 10 to 40, it is the United States that gets second place in the ranking.

japanese korean fashion
Image: K-Angle/Shutterstock via ETX Daily Up

American style is a reference for men

For Japanese men, style references come straight from the United States, and this for all age groups with at least 40% of votes. In second position is Korean fashion for the youngest, the 10 to 20 year-olds (29%) and the 20 to 30 year-olds (14%), while Italian style takes second place for Japanese men aged 30 and more. And when asked to name the most inspiring celebrities when it comes to style, men said Japanese singer Takuya Kimura, then K-pop group BTS, as well as Japanese comedian George Tokoro.

The study looked at the reasons why respondents chose a particular country as a fashion reference. The verdict: Korean fashion is unanimously appreciated by men and women of all age groups because it is accessible and easy to find (65%), while the appeal for American fashion is mainly explained by the fact that it allows Japanese to express their own personalities. Finally, French and Italian brands are deemed trustworthy by Japanese consumers.

The survey was conducted by Rakuten’s “Rakuma” nationwide on July 1 and 2, 2021, among a sample of 5,124 users, including 3,896 females and 1,228 males over the age of 10. JB

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