Japan might be home to the hippest designers and street style stars, but much of the country's fashion sense hasn't made it overseas, the New York Times reports.
"Of course, taking my brand overseas is a dream," said Aya Furuhashi, a designer for popular Japanese brand Fur Fur's. "But to be honest, that's really beyond us right now."
Experts explained that Japan's fashion industry is "too fragmented and too focused on the domestic market" to expand into other markets. Japan "generates trends and ideas, but it stops there," French consultant Loic Bizel told the Times. "Many brands are not even interested in going overseas." Bizel has made a business out of reselling Japan's trendy duds to buyers in America and Europe (including H&M and Topshop) who rework the clothing for their stores. However, Japanese designers don't end up making that much money from the arrangement.
The government has stepped in, appointing three young fashionistas as "ambassadors" to promote the country's labels overseas--even as far as Sao Paulo, Brazil where model Misako Aoki discussed Lolita fashion, clad in her own signature smock and bow tie. The trade ministry has also started paying for journalists to visit and report on the Tokyo Collection, a biannual presentation of the latest trends.