Anime is influencing the fashion trends of Japanese schoolgirls, asserts business and media news site J-Cast, citing reports of a “seifuku (uniform) boom” by one of Japan’s biggest textile companies and recent fashion trends adopting elements such as kneesocks, long popular in anime.
An abridged translation of J-cast’s report is as follows:
Seifuku are enjoying such popularity with female high school students that they are choosing to change out of their regular clothing into their uniforms even when outside of school. “Does this school have seifuku?” is a question that is becoming increasingly more common.
It is believed by some that this is due to the influence of K-on! and other popular school anime.
It appears that the number of school examinees (students studying for entrance exams) who are aiming for high schools on the basis that they have a popular seifuku.
Japanese uniform textile giant Nikke Group‘s chief PR spokesman speaks of a “seifuku boom.”
Seifuku have long been a symbol of the education system. Voices of students desiring the freedom to wear their own clothing have been raised in the past, which in turn led to a number of plain clothes high schools being established.
However, the reverse of that trend has recently come about, with the students themselves voicing their desires for school uniforms.
Kenritsu Kogane High in Matsudoshi City (Chiba Prefecture) is one of the plain clothes high schools, but is now planning to change to uniforms for its students in 2011. The vice principal had this to say regarding the change:
“Female students in particular spoke of how troublesome it is to pick different outfits every day, and parents too voiced the opinion that the need for more clothing purchases was expensive. Listening to the reports from middle schools and cram schools, we have decided to make the return to seifuku.”
“I want to wear one too…” After Seeing it in Anime?
There are some views that point out the potential influence of popular school-life anime.
The popularity of cosplaying anime character Haruhi Suzumiya, and most recently, the sale of the Sakuragakou school’s seifuku from the K-On! series currently airing on TBS.
One store selling K-On! cosplay, Cospatio, reports having sold 50 of their skirts and jackets, at a price of ¥30,000.
“Stories set on school campuses are incredibly popular in anime, and so there are probably many that think ‘I want to wear one too.’ Kneesocks were previously limited to an anime moe goods item. But now, they seem to becoming more of a fashion item.”
However, it does not seem that there are many students that wear the K-On! seifuku to school.
“It’s cosplay, so it’s something you just enjoy at an event or something like an all-girls band.”
In any case, regarding the question of anime’s influence, institutions such as Kenritsu Kogane High and the Nikke Group simply reply, “We don’t know.”
For those unfamiliar with Japanese youth culture, it should be pointed out that the influence and status of seifuku in the Japanese education system is a very long-standing tradition, and something such as a girl choosing a high school based on the appearance of its uniform would not have been shocking even over a decade ago.
Instead, the rise of the popularity of seifuku referred to above would be more an intensification of a long lived national charm with the uniforms, rather than a sudden reversal.