You might be able to guess which country came out on top!
In Japan, there are a lot of unique kinds of fashion, but the most popular looks for everyday streetwear are influenced by fashion from all over the world. Rakuten Group sought to find out which country’s fashion is the most influential in Japan and why, so between July 1 and 2 they surveyed 5,124 users of their flea market app Rakuma.
3,896 women and 1,228 men over the age of 10 were asked, “Which country besides Japan do you reference the most in terms of fashion?” Many respondents answered with the U.S., France, Italy, or the U.K., but far and away the most popular answer from Japanese women was Korea.
▼ The countries whose fashion Japanese women most reference, by age group. Key: red for Korea, blue for The U.S., orange for France, green for Italy, yellow for the U.K., purple for Spain, pink for China, and grey for “other”. Starting with women aged 10-20, all the way down to women 60 and up.
In fact, Korea was the top answer for almost every age group. Girls and teens between the ages of 10 and 20, in particular, seemed to overwhelming accept Korea as their foreign flagbearer for fashion, as 77.3 percent of them picked Korea as their top answer. Women in their 20s, 30s, and 40s also seemed to find inspiration in Korean fashion, as Korea was the top answer for each of those age groups (56.7, 36.4, and 24.3 percent respectively).
Older women, on the other hand, seemed to prefer European fashion. “France” was the top answer for women in their 50s, and the second for women in their 60s and older. The oldest age group also seemed to reference Italian fashion, as 17.1 percent of respondents voted for Italy. While U.S. fashion occupied the title as second most popular for younger Japanese women, European styles beat out American clothing for the most and second most popular among many older women.
But while women preferred Korean fashion, men seemed to prefer American fashion over the styles of any other country. More than 40 percent of respondents in every age group voted “The U.S.” as the country they most reference for fashion (besides Japan).
▼ The countries whose fashion Japanese men most reference, by age group (same key as above)
Younger men in their teens and 20s also like Korean fashion, which came second in both age groups with 28.7 and 13.8 percent of the vote respectively, but as men get older, they appear to begin to prefer the dressier fashion popular in Italy. Italian fashion was voted as the second most inspirational by 26 percent of men in their 60s and older.
The men were also given a free space to write which male celebrities they took most inspiration from, and, despite being given the option to write any name, the most popular answer for all age groups was former SMAP member Takuya Kimura, who continues to be one of Japan’s most admired celebrities. International smash hit K-Pop group BTS was the second most popular answer, most selected by teens, and for older gentlemen in their 40s and above, TV personality and comedian George Tokoro, with his penchant for nice T-shirts, was most popular, and third all-around.
Respondents were also asked to vote for reasons why that country’s fashion most appealed to them, with the option to choose multiple reasons. For men and women of all age groups, the top reason why Korean fashion was voted as the most referenced was “Because it’s cheap and easy to find” (64.8 percent). More than a third also said that “Because I like the celebrities and artists of that country”, but it seems like accessibility was key.
Responses for other countries were slightly more evenly divided. For American fashion, the top reason was “Because I can really express myself” (43.2 percent), while the majority of respondents who voted for French and Italian fashion said it was “Because they have brands I can trust” (43.2 percent and 51.4 percent respectively).
Where do they find their international fashion inspirations? Instagram, of course! For those who take fashions cues mostly from Korea and the U.S.–who are primarily younger people–browsing social media is a must. But for the older generation, old-school fashion magazines are what they use to study European fashion.
This all makes us wonder, though; since the top reason many of these fashions were chosen is because they’re cheap and accessible, and since the respondents’ most referenced celebrities are mostly Japanese, would Japan have come out as the top answer if it was an option? With Disney kimono and ukiyo-e sneakers now available, it’s really hard to say it wouldn’t.