Although Japanese women’s appearance and fashion is often commented on, particularly online, this article from J-Cast.com highlights the rise of men’s fashion magazines, and the appearance of a new type of fashionable Japanese man. This ‘new man’, is in his 30s or 40s, and regularly buys fashion magazines to help him take care of his all-important appearance. This has also had an effect on retail strategies for major Japanese stores, many of whom are now opening stores dedicated solely to men’s fashion, as well as prompting questions about the importance of a man’s appearance.
Unprecedented rise in sales of men’s fashion magazines; ‘criticism from women’ said to be reason
While the publishing world continues to suffer from the recession, one particular sector, has been thriving for the past few years: fashion magazines marketed towards middle aged men. Apparently, there is a reason for this…Not quite to the extent of the ‘choiwaru oyaji’ [a fashionable older man, with an air of delinquency about him], but still having an interest in fashion – it appears that recent years have given rise to this type of middle aged man.
■ Urged to become a ‘cool husband’
According to the Research Institute for Publications, part of The All-Japan Magazine and Book Publisher’s and Editor’s Association, sales of fashion magazines targeted at men in their 30s and 40s have risen dramatically since 2010. Between January and November of 2012, sales rose 38.3% from 2,660,000 copies to 3,680,000 copies. Even the researchers who carried out the survey were surprised, quote as saying, ‘it’s unusual that one genre has grown this much even though all other magazine sales are declining.’
Altogether, there are 5 magazines which fit into this category. Amongst them, LEON (also known as ‘Choiwaru Oyaji’, published by SHUFU TO SEIKATSUSHA) had the largest share of the sales, coming in at just under 30%. The others were OCEANS (International Luxury Media Co.), UOMO (Shueisha Inc.), MEN’S EX (SEKAI BUNKA PUBLISHING INC.) and 2nd (EI Publishing Co.).According to the researchers’ analysis, the reasons behind the huge growth in sales are thought to be related to the large numbers of middle aged men looking for partners and dating, and the recent trend of ‘machi-kon’ [a type of group dating practice aimed at helping local businesses by setting up group dates at various restaurants in the town.] The time when it used to be said that ‘men win or lose depending on their personality, not their appearance’ has now long since passed. It seems that women these days are much more critical of men’s fashion choices.
■ However, it is not just single men who are feeling the pressure from women.
‘When I asked a female editor at another magazine about it, she said there are wives who say “I buy magazines for my husband.” For example, the women’s fashion magazine VERY (Kobunsha Co.) has special articles for men to read. These types of magazine are promoting the “cool husband” image, which they call “ikedan” [from “iketeiru”, meaning “cool”, and “danna”, meaning “husband”.]‘
■ Sales of men’s fashion growing
According to researchers at the Research Institute for Publications, men in their 30s and 40s have generally been buying magazines since they were young as a method of getting information, and as they have become more aware of fashion, they have started to buy fashion magazines as well.
■ So, will this lead to a rise in sales for men’s fashion as well?
According to Yano Research, the domestic market for men’s apparel rose by 2% in 2011 compared to the previous year. Similarly, research by the Japan Department Stores Association shows that for men’s clothing sold in department stores, there was a small increase of 1.7% for sales in 2011 compared to the previous year. In October of 2011, the Hankyu department store chain changed their Yurakucho Hankyu store, which was primarily selling women’s clothes, into Hankyu Men’s Tokyo. ‘The Hankyu Men’s Osaka store, which we opened three years before, was doing really well so we decided to use our new found knowledge and open a store in Ginza, where there aren’t that many men’s fashion stores.’ (Statement from the company’s press office.) Furthermore, they added that one year after opening, the yearly sales target was met and that the outlook continued to be favourable.
The department store Isetan, which already has a male-orientated version of its store in Shinjuku, Tokyo, said that sales of men’s clothing in the period April – September 2012, were up by 2% compared to the same period the year before, and continued to remain strong. However, online shopping, with cheaper prices and outlet stores, has seen a stronger rise in sales. Moreover, more and more people who are interested in fashion are not only browsing magazines, but also checking the internet and watching TV, it seems.
Comments from Yahoo!Japan:
Men ought to look after their appearance too. But there’s no need to turn into one of those show-off nancy boys. And let’s not even get started on those women who force their husbands to become like that. It’s best to get rid of that type of woman straight away.
Once they get to a certain age, there are those guys who can only find new information through newspapers or TV, and when they decide they want to become a bit more fashionable, they wrack what little knowledge they have, and decide that fashion magazines are best. I think that’s what their thought process is.
I think, once these men get older, rather than thinking about clothes, they ought to pay attention to their BO…
Fashion is an individual thing, and if you’re constantly worrying what others are thinking, you can’t enjoy it. Women who criticise others’ fashion are the ones who least understand what fashion is.
I think it also has to do with women’s progress in society and changing attitudes to money. Women are investing money on themselves, and therefore they expect men to do so, too. In the past, stay-at-home housewives were the norm, so rather than fashion, money was put to practical use. But these days, men’s salaries are decreasing, the status of women is increasing, and it’s becoming harder and harder to find someone to marry.
Male or female, if they’re not dirty, that’s enough.
First off, old men with dyed brown hair just look really stupid. Also, those men you sometimes see who force themselves into slim fit suits and those pointed shoes are ridiculous, too. I’m also bored of seeing those glasses with huge lenses everywhere. When you get older, your breath starts to smell, so it’d be better if people took care of that.
Firstly, it’s only Japan where regular people pay this much attention to fashion. It’s not that the men have no interest in fashion, if you look at other countries, you’ll see that Japanese women are just weird. Even if you’re covered in brand name goods, if you’ve got short legs and no figure, nobody’s going to be looking at you.
That’s only the case for those few guys are have good bodies and are handsome.The rest wear those plain jeans and eat at dinner at regular restaurants.
I want to be popular with the ladies, but if I follow what the media say, the only ones I’ll be popular with are hostesses.
Where you shop and what you buy depends on the style of your body. If you don’t get fit, you can’t be fashionable. In the end, it all comes down to self control.
Obviously, men are also becoming more critical of women. I’m talking about on their personalities as well, things apart from fashion.
For men or women, if the clothes are average, cheap and fashionable, then that’s fine. But, cheap men’s clothing, is made with old men’s figures in mind, so you can’t wear them and look stylish. Having said that, fashionable clothing is ridiculously expensive.
Even if it’s okay to wear flashy clothing, it has to be paired with a good personality.
I like the worldly type of fashion and hobbies that Mr. Tokoro (George Tokoro) has. He has a type of coolness that women probably can’t understand.
Recently there are a lot of people who wear great clothes but who are empty on the inside…
The majority of people who base their expectations around what they see in magazines are those 40 year olds (and their children) whose generation was manipulated by words like ‘trendy’ and ‘cool’, and who took Mens Nonno and Popeye [another men's magazine] as their bible.
Every time I see adverts on 2ch compilation sites etc which say ‘Clothes that women choose for men’ or ‘Wear this and you’ll be cool www, best ever fashion’, I think about the type of guys who would fall for that sort of advert, and how they will never be fashionable no matter how hard they try.
In winter, everyone wears black clothes. It’s proof that people only choose things they think are ‘safe’. Your sense of style won’t improve if you compromise; you should wear whatever colours you like.
@ともっちぃぃ（tom…）さん ‘Your sense of style won’t improve if you compromise; you should wear whatever colours you like.’ I like black.