Capital: Tokyo Largest city: Tokyo Official language: Japanese Area Total: 145,883 square miles Time zone: JST (UTC +9) Currency Yen: (JPY) Population: 127,288,416 GDP (per capita): $33,500 Internet TLD: jp
Beauty and appearance play a huge role in Japanese society, and consumers here are the world’s biggest beauty spenders per capita.
Second only in size to the U.S., the Japanese beauty market is estimated by market research firm Fuji-Keizai USA Inc. to be valued at around 3 trillion yen, or $30 billion. Euromonitor International puts this number closer to $35 billion for the cosmetics and toiletries market, with skin care accounting for 42 percent, followed by color cosmetics at 41 percent.
Clear, smooth, light-colored skin is the oldest and most steadfast ideal of beauty in Japan, dating back to the time when geishas would paint their faces white using rice flour or a leadbased powder mixed with water. These days, whitening is more of a skin care trend. An emphasis on convenience means products are becoming increasingly multifunctional, such as Kanebo’s Akai Bihaku Whitening Conclusion, which offers both antiaging and whitening benefits. Sun care products are also benefitting from the whitening craze. Women here are so adverse to the sun it’s not uncommon to see them slathered in SPF cream despite wearing long sleeves and carrying parasols. Asia is the world’s biggest region for skin care overall, fueled largely by the Japanese obsession with youthful-looking skin. According to Euromonitor, Japan accounts for roughly half of all skin care sales in Asia, and Japanese consumers are the trend leaders, helping the popularity of premium brands spread to other Asian countries.
Domestic brands dominate the market. Shiseido has long been the market leader, but with Kao Corp.’s acquisition of Kanebo in 2006, the number-one place is now up for grabs, creating strong competition between the two manufacturers. According to Euromonitor, Kao owns the top two premium cosmetics brands of 2008, Kanebo and Sofina. These are followed by Kosé, Shiseido and SK-II, a Proctor & Gamble Co. brand.
Despite its size, the market for beauty products is mature and almost completely saturated, meaning manufacturers are having to become even more inventive in order to maintain market share. “After many years of flat growth, the value of the total market in 2009 will likely decline by about one percent versus 2008,” says Avon Japan’s marketing director, Nigel Brown. Euromonitor predicts a stagnant 2010, with slight growth not expected to return until 2011.
Luxury brands are starting to falter, too, and are expected to lose market share over the coming fuel years. “In recent years more somewhat premium products have become available in drugstores, and younger people and those with less money have shifted a great amount of spending to them. Some midlevel products are now even widely available in convenience stores,” says Shirai.
This trading down to masstige and mass brands can be seen across nearly all segments, but that doesn’t mean consumers are willing to settle for less. “Women still expect high quality in product packaging and aesthetics, even if the price they are prepared to pay is somewhat less,” says Brown.
MAC is considered one of the leading midtier brands here. Sold in Japan’s top department stores, including Takashimaya and Tokyu, its prices are 10 to 50 percent less than similar products from other brands.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast