Relaxed Casual
23 July 2008
A new fashion attitude takes over Tokyo
youth, yuru-nachu, Ladies
Japanese trend adoption is very orderly. Magazines announce the latest styles and fads in perfect coordination with brands and stores, and very engaged, detail-oriented consumers perfectly align their wardrobes to the media message.

That being said, consumers do not follow seasonal trends blindly. As much as the fashionable men’s magazines pushed Thom Browne-inspired “American Trad” over the last year, younger Japanese men were just not interested in Ivy League styling; the look does not reflect their current lifestyle and aesthetics.

Young women, on the other hand, have gone absolutely gaga for the magazines’ spring/summer look — a broad fashion style called yuru-nachu (“relaxed natural.”) Since February, the streets and subways have been filled with loose flower-print Bohemian dresses and off-white tunics. The look takes the Japanese love of layering and emphasizes the overlapping of natural materials like linen and organic cotton. The overall color palette is greatly muted and congregates around shades of beige and “earth tones.” Most strikingly, the lines are extremely relaxed and loose — removing all overt sexuality out of the silhouette. (To many men, the look is a bit “frumpy.”) Miniskirts are out, and floor-length patchwork dresses are in.

The yuru-nachu style, however, is not the work of a single brand or stylist: almost every domestic manufacturer went for a more “down-to-earth” and laid-back approach. Fashion-forward shopping buildings like PARCO are filled with variations on yuru-nachu, while brands in Shibuya 109 have adapted the look to fit with the more outrageous and erotic Gyaru look. Magazines like CanCam — which have relied on a very clean, conservative approach to fashion — have even brought in yuru-nachu elements (especially cotton tunics) into its core styling.

“Hippie” and “Bohemian” have been key descriptors to the visual aesthetics of the style, but do not assume that the popularity of yuru-nachu is tied to a rise in hippie or anti-bourgeois attitudes. There is no complicated ideological “edge” to yuru-nachu. Women like the look because it is simply easy-to-wear, comfortable, and low pressure. In fact, the yuru-nachu boom seems to be a more earthy extension of the recent “real clothes” movement’s rejection of high fashion and designer brands.
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