Okinawa (沖縄) is the southernmost part of Japan. Its temperature is hotter than any place in the country. Though people’s fashion here is quite different from the capital city, it still can be considered as one of the sites to bag a spot in high fashion. The country’s 127-million population even makes fashion more interesting.
Different designers and journalists have shown recent interest in Okinawa’s latest fashion trend which encompasses both classic and modern influences. Let’s take a closer look at Okinawan people’s fashion statements which go beyond the island’s pristine beaches.
Fashion is not only for the people of Tokyo. Okinawa has also been a major contributor to the fashion industry. The island is popularly known for their “kariyushi” shirt which is mostly short-sleeved and worn during summer days. “Kariyushi” means “good fortune” and the kariyushi shirt is quite similar to the Aloha shirt of Hawaii. This kind of shirt can be found everywhere on the island. If you look at tourists and local people, a lot of them are sporting this trend. However, it is said that it took a lot of years for this kind of fashion to be an island staple and to be finally accepted by the Okinawan people and the government.
MAJUN is a famous brand for kariyushi shirts in the island until now. They underwent a great struggle in realizing their idea of producing a shirt similar to that of Hawaii in order to increase tourism in the area. At first, it wasn’t taken seriously by the Okinawan government, until the company asked for help from US President Bill Clinton and Russian leader Vladimir Putin to actually wear the shirts. After that, the government officials in Okinawa started wearing them which was also followed by other people.
RYUKYU Leather LLA
Though Okinawa is seemingly hotter than other places in Japan, this doesn’t stop them from producing leather products. An example is RYUKYU Leather LLA, a brand that sells leather products made by skilled craftsmen. This local shop can be found in several outlets across the island. Besides producing bags, items such as long wallets which showcase different traditional patterns are also made. The texture and quality of their tanned leather are outstanding. If you’re looking for an outlet mall that sells this kind of goods, then you better check out Okinawa Outlet Mall Ashibinaa (沖縄アウトレットモールあしびなー) which is located 15 minutes from Naha Airport (那覇空港).
American Village (アメリカンビレッジ)
If you prefer American-style clothing in Okinawa, you can visit American Village.
They also sell Japanese fashionable goods such as Okinawa’s original shima-zori sandals, which are popular flip-flops on the island. The largest specialty shop of this is called Okinawa Genbei which sells more than 100 color variations of the sandals stacked inside the store from the floor to the ceiling. They are gentle on the feet as the straps are made of natural rubber and special raw materials were used in the process. Having that said, they are adored by many women including children and are often bought as souvenir gifts.
American Village also encloses a shop for kids called SKIP consisting of a large assortment of children’s clothing which are very cool and comes in different designs. Parents and children can also wear matching clothes if they want to.
For strikingly gorgeous lingerie, head to Rainbow Rose where you can find cute lingerie designs and even sexy adult ones. The shop has a large collection of different varieties from see-through babydolls to garter types. These pieces are not only fashion-forward but are reasonably priced, too.
Okinawa, as a Japanese island, is not only a diving place for scuba divers but is also excelling beyond its borders fashion-wise. Two Okinawa fashion houses recently opted to hold their runway shows on the island instead of the capital city in order to tell the world how beautiful the island’s fashion is. They also chose to stream the show online in order to reach a wider audience.
The director of OKINAWA MADE, Roberto Yoshida (吉田ロベルト), has started to hold his shows on different parts of the island to make every fashion week interesting. Yoshida commented that “Fashion is not only for people in Tokyo,” a statement which he wants to prove to people.
OKINAWA MADE Online Store *Japanese only
When it comes to the island’s unique culture, the brand LEQUIO has been presenting products which are original in nature and cannot be found in any other place. It is said that this coming 2017, LEQUIO’s spring and summer collection will be featuring some of Okinawa’s indigo dye. This is a way of supporting the agriculture sector in the island which is believed to be waning. One fashionable product they’ve shown is a dyed t-shirt that has very complicated patterns.
LEQUIO’s second line, MADE IN OCCUPIED JAPAN, uses US military attire into bags as well as hooded sundresses. It is known that the Americans stayed on the island for many years which sparked various controversies. The idea of LEQUIO’s second line is to turn the negative heritage known to people into a plus point. This way, it can ease the tension between the races and help lessen the bad memories of the past.
As an island rich in natural resources, Okinawa also boasts amazing fashion statements. It also has several brands that are very simple yet charming. The island has continuously drawn many tourists into the place not only for its lush nature and pristine blue waters but also because of its new fashion trend which has stirred the interest of people. It is something that makes fashion weeks very interesting. This is also one of the many ways in which Okinawa fashion is trying to achieve its global ambition.
Some of the shops mentioned above can be found in Tokyo or online but are only selling a limited number of goods, thus people are only given a slight chance of snagging the items. So grab the opportunity to visit Okinawa on one of your holidays and wear fashionable and luxurious resort wear with a casual twist.