Japanese fashion is in a league of its own. The country has produced some of the industry’s most reputable style icons, such as Nigo (who just launched a highly anticipated collaboration collection with luxury giant Louis Vuitton), as well as Chitose Abe of luxury fashion label Sacai. On a mass, global scale, it’s also safe to say that UNIQLO has completely transformed the way we view affordable casualwear forever with their timeless yet affordable designs. But there are still so many other talents who have yet to get worldwide recognition.
If you too are a fan of Japanese fashion and are keen to expand your knowledge on all things J-fashion-related, read on as we round up six indie Japanese fashion brands to love and know now.
If you’re looking to expand your style repertoire with more sophisticated, elegant designs, consider womenswear label Elendeek. It does a beautiful job in offering contemporary designs in primarily muted colours. Some of the label’s signature design touches include wrinkled pleats, ruched details and loose silhouettes. Prices range from JPY9,790/~USD91.32 for a puff-sleeve knit blouse to JPY132,000/~USD1,231.24 for a Mouton coat.
Our top picks from the brand: This part-poncho, part-ribbed sweater top. It’s a cosy piece that can be dressed up or down easily. We envision wearing this to the library or for a movie date.
Long, sheer shirtdresses are a must-have for Summer layering, and this piece was a clear winner in our eyes with its soft, periwinkle shade. Pair it with a high neck tank top and roomy trousers on dress-down Fridays. For a flirtier, more feminine look, wear this underneath a skin-coloured slip dress and add a belt over it to define your waist.
Upgrade your casualwear game with Maison Special, a women's fashion brand that offers effortless, functional pieces at wallet-friendly prices. The brand occasionally partners with like-minded labels as well to launch limited-edition items. It recently worked with Japanese fashion label Selena Helios on a series of graphic t-shirts that aim to remind wearers on the importance of self-love, self-expression and relationships. Prices range from JPY5,280/~USD49.24 for a ribbed tank top to JPY37,400/~USD348.80 for an oversized trench coat.
Our top picks from the brand: Summer vibes are aplenty in this striped two-way maxi dress, which is made from recycled fibre and linen. The versatile piece features a V-neck design on one side and a crewneck on the other so that you can style it in multiple ways for different occasions.
Another heat-friendly fashion item that we love is the linen wrap maxi skirt. This feminine and comfortable piece pairs well with a crop top and sandals for off-duty days.
Enjoy J-fashion without breaking the bank; simply check out up-and-coming casualwear brand Nicoron’s affordable, trendy clothing. Founded in 2018 by Japanese model Nicole Fujita, the brand boasts a good variety of wardrobe separates from graphic sweaters and bucket hats to girlier style essentials including camisole dresses and off-the-shoulder blouses. Prices range from JPY594/~USD5.54 for a pair of striped socks to JPY7,150/~USD66.68 for a backpack.
Our top picks from the brand: This ivory top with lace-up details at the back, which is currently one of the key fashion items for Spring 2020 in Tokyo. The top has dolman sleeves to help create the illusion of slimmer arms.
We’re also in the mood to don a pair of floral bell-bottom trousers after catching K-pop girl group TWICE’s ‘More & More’ music video for the nth time. Create a retro-inspired get-up by matching these trousers with a twist-front crop top with flared sleeves.
Peculiar, fascinating, and even a little kitschy at times, Somnium’s pieces are perfect for those who are unafraid to push the style envelope. The decade-old Japanese costume jewellery brand is led by designer Izumi Ohno and counts J-Pop Princess Kyary Pamyu Pamyu amongst its fans. Prices range from JPY2,750/~USD25.65 for a single cubic earring to JPY99,000/~USD923.29 for a cowhide necklace.
Our top picks from the brand: These silver doorknocker earrings from their ‘Architecture Design of Japan 2’ collection. This standout pair is made of tin alloy and brass and is inspired by Japan’s Shinto doorknobs.
Another statement piece we love is the ‘Supernova’ necklace, which is a result of Ohno’s artful interpretation of the luminous, explosive event. This beautiful piece is from the brand’s ‘Vetus’ collection and goes nicely with a slinky evening cocktail dress.
Indie Japanese style brand UN3D (pronounced “un-threed”) is made for women who have a penchant for edgy, asymmetrical designs. Founded in 2016 by Momoko Ogihara, who was formerly the chief creative officer and main designer of popular Japanese fashion label Murua, UN3D invites you to celebrate your individuality with its wide selection of fashion-forward pieces. Prices range from JPY9,000/~USD93.95 for a pair of asymmetrical ear cuffs to JPY30,000/~USD279.83 for a glossy, origami pleated skirt.
Our top picks from the brand: This compact utility bag, which comes in a trendy python print. Available in two classic colours, black and beige, the bag includes a mini wallet compartment to hold your cards and coins. This stylish yet fuss-free accessory is just what you need for your quick errand runs.
We were also particularly drawn to the ‘Vest Docking’ top, which consists of a simple white tee underneath a detachable, one-shoulder vest with edgy buckle detail at the waist. We envision styling this versatile piece with a pair of cargo trousers or with a long skirt and boots.
Jewellery brand Yurika Akutsu is an under-the-radar gem that subscribes to a gritty-meets-pretty aesthetic. In an interview with The Arcade Japan, founder Akutsu revealed that he had been exposed to fashion during his time as a hairstylist before deciding to establish his namesake accessory brand. Prices range from JPY1,650/~USD15.39 for a simple, brass-plated ring to JPY15,400/~USD143.62 for a heart-shaped glass necklace.
Our top picks from the brand: We’re mesmerised by these Dora Rainbow earrings, which possess a dreamy, iridescent-like quality. Made of resin and brass, this feminine, handmade piece shines even more beautifully in the light.
Which of the above indie Japanese style brands has successfully caught your eye?
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