Do You Hate Uniqlo? Then Buy a Magazine All About the Brand!

archive7

Jean mentioned this on his blog last week, but giant publishing company Magazine House recently put out a special mook all about the Japanese mass-fashion brand Uniqlo assembled by the editors of Relax. Japan’s trendy lifestyle ‘zines tend to sell their cover-stories to the highest bidder, but there’s no ambiguity this time between editorial and advertising: This is just a paid promotion in magazine-form with a price tag of ¥680. Inside are all the usual suspects wearing Uniqlo (Hi again, young creative female artist Kiyokawa Asami!) and hiding their bags of endorsement money somewhere off camera.

Most “adult” Japanese fashion magazines greatly resemble the “aspiration book” style of American glossies like Vogue and GQ — pages of arty spreads and consumer products requiring income one step above the reader’s current level. The teen lifestyle rags, on the other hand, are consumer guides with concrete information on brands, stores, and constructing certain fashion styles — here’s where to buy earth music & ecology in Sendai and how to combine Mode-kei with Street-kei, etc. The functional need for raw info displaces any attempts at opinions or artistic fantasies and makes this media a perfect target for producer cooptation. And with no political content in the teen fashion market, the editors don’t particularly care what kids actually buy and wear: If a brand wants to pay ¥500,000 for special treatment, hey, that’s just more money for the publisher’s entertainment budget.

In this light, Uniqlo buying a whole magazine makes perfect sense, whereas an issue of Esquire all about Sean John would raise a lot of eyebrows. I do find it hilarious though that Uniqlo made a whole magazine dedicated to itself and then has the balls to sell it.

Uniqlo’s also created a very interesting advertising campaign to go with their new re-branding. The ad poses the question: “Do you hate Uniqlo?” and then lists quote after quote of Japanese kids talking about all the things they hate about the brand (paraphrase of one — “I got a Basquiat shirt, but then realized that everyone else had the same one, so I stopped wearing it.”). At the end, Uniqlo chimes in and says, If you agree with the opinions above, be prepared to have your mind blown by the new ultra-fab Seleqlo boutique. Marketing textbooks often recommend advertisements that admit a brand’s weaker points in order to create consumer trust, but most brands fear discussing possible drawbacks in the public sphere. Uniqlo’s treading safe waters with this one, because the complaints are only those of trendy kids, and not the brand’s large chunk of older, price-oriented consumers. Admittedly Uniqlo’s self-mockery in the ad comes off as pretty slick.

All this hypercommercialism kitsch, however, must have some sort of limit. When Tokion did its McDonald’s issue back in the ’90s, that seemed tolerable, but when will we all figure out that it’s now just the largest companies directly purchasing huge bulks of once-independent editorial space and indirectly limiting exposure to smaller companies who lack the capital to play the payola game?

W. David MARX
April 23, 2005

W. David Marx (Marxy) — Tokyo-based writer and musician — is the founder and chief editor of Néojaponisme.

41 Responses

  1. r. Says:

    but the difference between the guarded, nuanced ‘marxy take’ and dazzled, golly-gee ‘jean take’ on all this is evident when we take a closer look at jeans statements…

    “Brilliant piece of marketing…the brand is really pushing for some cred this year…I’ll admit that I absolutely want that Groovisions tee that was featured in the mook, even if it has a Uniqlo logo on it. Could this finally be the year that Uniqlo comes out with a decent tee line?”

    i have a list of words that i’ve put together over the years that are very difficult to say/explain in japanese due to a conceptual rift in the logo-cultural matrix between it and english. one of the first words that made it on to this list of mine was the idea of “selling out”. ’nuff said.

  2. marxy Says:

    Well the concept of “selling out” is based on the idea that culture/art can be validated outside of the market (or mass taste judgments), and in the world of Japanese pop culture, no commercial success means no “wide-reception” and therefore, no social meaning.

  3. r. Says:

    that’s what i’m screaming! it is always an entertaining study in frustration to try and explain the indie-pop sense of this word to japanese kids…

  4. marxy Says:

    I totaly disagree with Roddy’s idea that Jpop is best because it’s “the most disposable” – creators need a certain amount of pretention solely because it’s more interesting for consumers that way. I can’t claim that all those sollen indie bands in the U.S. actually aren’t doing it for the money, but I connect with them a lot more since they at least appear to care about the music itself.

    Adorno sez: pop cult needs “pseudo-individuality,” and surely anti-commercial pretention makes the pills easier to swallow.

  5. r. Says:

    i agree with roddy insofar as the discussion is limited to the brute ‘poppyness’ of jpop, which, depending on your disposition in the post-marxist, hyper-capitalist continuum, appears either demonic or seraphic.
    i will say this, thought. you can’t ‘sell-out’ if you never had anything with which to do so from the get-go. perhaps at best(worst?), a jpop star can ‘sell back in’ TOWARDS ‘authenticity’. i’m thinking here of someone like shena ringo…

  6. marxy Says:

    The problem with Jpop is that its overcommercialization ultimately breeds stagnancy, and that just gets boring. If you’ve heard a Jpop song from the last 25 years, you’ve basically heard all Jpop songs from the last 25 years. When artsts get pretentious, they experiment, and often that innovation spreads.

    Good example with Shiina Ringo. She “sold out” on her first album and used her success to go “artistic.” That’s the only way to do it here, although that was the only way to do it anywhere until the mid-60s.

  7. r. Says:

    i’m shifting a bit here, but this exchange from sno.com was telling…

    http://jeansnow.net/2005/04/17/tokyo-luxury/#comments

    nik says: why is it that whenever Tokyo and fashion are mentioned in the same sentence, pictures of Prada, Louis Vutton, and Dior are included? i’m not saying it’s a bad thing, i’m just saying i don’t get it.

    Jean Snow says: Because those are the shops that were designed by famous architects that everyone wants to check out.

    …and i just wonder who exacty is implicated in sno’s ‘everyone’ demographic that DOESN’T desire, in your words “consumer products requiring income one step above the reader’s current level”?

    and now the most grave question, naturally asked by you, marxy:
    “when will we all figure out that it’s now just the largest companies directly purchasing huge bulks of once-independent editorial space and indirectly limiting exposure to smaller companies who lack the capital to play the payola game?”

    and the sad answer is:
    even if you suddenly made this ‘known’ to all of the ‘masses’ nothing would change.

  8. marxy Says:

    I don’t really expect “the masses” to start explicitly rejecting over-commercialized culture – apparently, they’re doing it anyway. (The markets for clothes, magazines, and music have never been worse.)

    I do, however, think it’s possible that Japan’s media-makers, artists, and related parties will wake up and realize that it’s much more interesting – and possibly, rewarding – to create a system that values creativity/talent irregardless of market performance. Unfortunately, there’s so much economic stress on each person to make a living from their own participation in these industries – in the West, we rationalize our own relative poverty as “cred” – that the worse the market conditions get, the more they need the system to directly pay them off for their gatekeeping/cool-making roles.

    The implosion point could be when magazines are so bought-out that they lose readers and thus, lose market power, which will then make companies less interested in buying up editorial space.

  9. r. Says:

    if there IS some kind of point of ‘critical cultural mass’ that is reachable (there is no evidence that it MUST occur), i personally wouldn’t hasten its premature arrival. if anything, i’d prolong it…but my reasons are a little twisted. i think if it IS possible, i’d only have it occur after some kind of fail-safe point has been passed, so that no kind of salvage/reverasl action is possible, and the system failure is total and irrevocable. then interesting ADDITIONAL artistic forms (for a vast panolpy of ultra-fringe forms already is already extant) might start to emerge “beyond market performance”.
    above all, i think that the fortunate thing is that this kind of ‘hypercapitalist motive force’ remains localized to japan, due to conditions that would prove impossible to re-create anywhere else on the globe.
    or is this echelon of vacuous (yet tasteful) consumption possible somewhere else under different conditions?

  10. marxy Says:

    above all, i think that the fortunate thing is that this kind of ‘hypercapitalist motive force’ remains localized to japan

    I think the American culture industries dream of making the U.S. market like Japan. They’d be happy to get rid of all subjective reviews, music crit, underground values, indie culture, but they’ve have to deal with it since ’65-’66. Japan is just culture commodification without any sort of non-tradtionalist resistance.

    If anything, the U.S. industries have been highly successful in the last half-decade in destroying ideas of “selling out” and pushing idols on the American public. Britney, however, turned out to be as American as apple pie – she was too skanky to stay someone else’s commodity. That’s the difference between Madonna and Hamasaki Ayumi – Madonna sells Madonna and makes money for Madoona. Hamasaki Ayumi sticks to the script and makes money for the goons behind her.

    Clay and Ruben are very Japanese-type stars, but I doubt their backers have the market clout to give them long-term careers. The reason SMAP is still in business is that the media is not allowed to destroy them. Think about how much anti-NKOTB backlash there was right after they came out.

  11. marxy Says:

    Correction: Madonna makes money for Madonna and Madoona.

  12. r. Says:

    indeed. she is the best of all possible ‘material’ girls since she owns the very fiber of her own artistic being! smap are just indentured boy ‘material’ on the market.

    eagleton sez (ala marx, brackets by robert): “the ultimate poverty or loss of being is to be left with nothing but yourself. it is to work directly with your body, like other animals. and since this is still the condition of millions of men and women one the planet today, it is strange to be told that the [artistic] proletariat has disappeared…”

  13. r. Says:

    smaprole

  14. Chris_B Says:

    I dont mean to spoil the lexiconic distortion party here, but lets look at the thread topic from a business POV. The goals of most large businesses here are focused around grabbing as much market share as possible.

    One tool to accomplish this is to maximize shelf space of your product vs a competitors in open markets like department stores or supermarkets. If you run private retail space that is not an option. You can expand the number of your retail outlets in the hopes of pushing your competitors out of available prime retail space, usually at a short term increase of costs, with the hope of the long term goal of market dominance.

    If the above option is not possible, buying out the “idea space” of customers is a viable tool. What is the real difference between paying a supermarket for better placement of your product and buying editorial space in a magazine? Buying a whole issue of a magazine is just a natural extention of the above.

  15. Chris_B Says:

    marxy: I’d like to counter your comments above and say that the US content industries have not been hurt by “subjective” review and independant media at all. If anything they find a way to sell product formatted such that the goal is to please the “subjective” “independant” reviewers and tastemakers.

    r: totally OT here, but I’ve come to think “selling out” doesnt really exist. Lets save that idea for drinks though.

  16. Brad Says:

    I’m wondering about this statement:

    I don’t really expect “the masses” to start explicitly rejecting over-commercialized culture – apparently, they’re doing it anyway. (The markets for clothes, magazines, and music have never been worse.)

    I agree that the consumer market for the items you listed above is in decline. Because of the economic situation here, people are moving away from the brands, etc. that have been traditional mainstays here and moving towards something more…practical, affordable, whatever. But surely that’s just a temporary change?

    As you said, people are not consciously saying “This Louis Vuitton stuff is everywhere! I’m tired of seeing it, I’m not buying it anymore”. They’re saying “Jeez, how much do they want for that bag?! I can’t afford that…I’ll just make do with something else.” But if/when the economy improves and people feel better about their economic station, won’t they just go right back to the LV?

    If the rejection is a purely practical one and not a conscious or explicit one, does it even count? They may not be buying it, but they still want it.

    Which leads me to agree that the typical consumer will never catch on and never change their habits.

    And I don’t see people who work in the industry waking up one day with an epiphany, saying “By golly, enough of making money by selling ads to these huge corporations! I’m gonna get creative and make money the old-fashioned, Smith Barney way!” I can’t ever see that happening, unless, like you said, the situation gets so dire that magazines are no longer an attractive medium to get your message out there.

  17. Brad Says:

    One other notable use of negative marketing tactics that sticks in my mind was back in ’99 when Sega was getting ready to launch the Dreamcast. The Saturn had been thoroughly trounced by the Playstation and so they had this series of commercials where one of the Managing Directors at Sega, Yukawa, would be walking along, overhearing children talking about how “The Saturn sucks!” “Yeah, Sony is much more fun!” or he’d get beat up by a bunch of thugs and so he vowed that he was going to change Sega’s loser image with the new Dreamcast. Funny series of commercials.

    Check out his wikipedia page:
    http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/湯川専務

  18. Chris_B Says:

    Brad: The Yukawa series of ads was indeed great. I even had a Yukawa keitei strap at one point.

  19. marxy Says:

    What is the real difference between paying a supermarket for better placement of your product and buying editorial space in a magazine? Buying a whole issue of a magazine is just a natural extention of the above.

    Right. This is exactly the Japanese philosophy on the issue. And with no real tradition of “the Fourth Estate” or a politically independent media, there’s no one to fight it. The media here is squarely on the side of the producers, not the consumers.

    I’d like to counter your comments above and say that the US content industries have not been hurt by “subjective” review and independant media at all.

    They’ve found that independent media can be very helpful for marketing, but at least in the pop music world, music crit started in the underground press, somewhat as a political action against the major labels. All cultural industries would like to have full control of the work’s judgement criteria, and an independent media make everything chaotic. Johnny’s is happy to have no one make fun of SMAP.

    But if/when the economy improves and people feel better about their economic station, won’t they just go right back to the LV?

    Here’s the crazy part: they are buying more LV now than ever. The Japanese consumer is moving away from subtle “taste-based” fashion to explicit “wealth-based” fashion.

    Also, even if the economy improves, it’s not going to be like 20th century Japan. Forget the days of equal income distribution – this is true everywhere in the world, to be fair. So, even if the economy improves (which we can’t assume at this point), the rich will go out and buy more perhaps, but you won’t see a “mass” movement of fashion consumption like in the 70s-90s.

  20. Chris_B Says:

    This is exactly the Japanese philosophy on the issue. And with no real tradition of “the Fourth Estate” or a politically independent media, there’s no one to fight it. The media here is squarely on the side of the producers, not the consumers.

    So you do see the local norm but want it to be something else? As for “fighting it” where do you get off with that idea? If there was a consumer demand for something different it would have happened. You should be well aware that there is lots of small press here and lots of it falls well outside the market norm agendas. And as for the media being on anyone’s “side”, that is a really short sighted statement. Since when is business on any side but that of business? (Consumer Reports being the obvious exception)

    but you won’t see a “mass” movement of fashion consumption like in the 70s-90s.

    Once again, I think you are confused. The bubble period of consumer consumption cant be compared to any other period in the history of the Japanese economy. The idea of the “masses” having access to luxury brand products is a blip, an abnormality, and can only be viewed as such.

    If this is only about your personal feeling that a Uniqlo mook is morally wrong, well then so be it. If you think this marketing exercise is something else I’d hope you would do a better job articulating your theory.

  21. r. Says:

    chris,
    this is not ONLY a question of morals, it is ALSO a question of sustainability…

  22. Chris_B Says:

    r: declining sales of print media are not isolated to our fine archepeligo. Nothing lasts forever in the same form, so what sustainability are we talking about?

  23. r. Says:

    the sustainability of a global minima moralia of consumption.

  24. marxy Says:

    So you do see the local norm but want it to be something else?

    I would personally like it to be different, but more than that, I think non-Japanese assume that the Japanese press works in the same way as the US/UK/French press – ie, the media reviews/criticizes politics, culture, and other media. That doesn’t happen in Japan, and I think it’s fair to say this has a huge influence on the way politics, culture, and consumption progress.

    The bubble period of consumer consumption cant be compared to any other period in the history of the Japanese economy. The idea of the “masses” having access to luxury brand products is a blip, an abnormality, and can only be viewed as such.

    It’s a blip that still exists today. There is no other country where ordinary lower middle-class populations wear Louis Vuitton. This will change, but it’s now “common sense” that the Japanese are the world’s greatest fashion consumers. If anything, this period takes up at least half of Japan’s relatively young mass consumer history.

    If you think this marketing exercise is something else I’d hope you would do a better job articulating your theory.

    I don’t know what you’re getting at.

  25. r. Says:

    i’m changing gears here for a moment, but…some of you may or may not be shocked to find out that a friend of mine who is working here said that most of the UNIQLO stuff is made in sweatshops in…wait for it…CHINA (of all places)! now i may be wrong, but the whole concept of a sweatshop as being a bad thing in general seems to be missing from the news here in japan. this of course introduced a whole new reason to why you shouldn’t believe, or participate in (hi jean!) the uniqlo hype! there’s a reason they cal sell ’em that cheap, boys!!!

  26. r. Says:

    sorry, a frend who is working here
    http://www.ppjaponesia.org/

  27. r. Says:

    so CHRIS, we see that the question of MORALS isn’t the ‘non-question’ that you’d like to make it out as…

  28. mmm Says:

    I am just happy that Uniqlo makes clothes that fit me. It is nice to be able to purchase a shirt in Japan sometimes that doesn’t make my arms fall asleep.

    If it were pants too tight in the crotch I might be proud, but shirts that are too tight in the armpits give me nothing but wide shouldered shame.

  29. marxy Says:

    most of the UNIQLO stuff is made in sweatshops in…wait for it…CHINA

    To tie things back up: if the economic/political/cultural structure of Japan is all about top-down action and no media-criticism, will this structure change now that Japan is slowly abandoning its “state-run capitalist” system for global capitalism?

    If there’s anyone who loses on the Uniqlozation of Japan, it’s the working classes. Japanese product manufacturing is being shipped overseas, and there goes the Fordist idea that the workers should be able to afford their own goods (an idea long gone in America.) That’s what happens when the working classes have had no political representation in Japan for the last 30-40 years.

    I’ve never heard anyone Japanese complain about sweatshops a la No Logo (too political!), but that being said, the whole sweatshop talk stopped completely in America once China undersold all the other Southeast Asian countries. I get the sense that the anti-globalizationists don’t particularly care what happens to those working under the Chinese Communist Party.

    (But there is a deeper issue that there’s never been a non-traditionalist anti-consumerism movement in Japan.)

  30. Chris_B Says:

    r: ahem..

    you want I should just take your word for it cuz someone on the internets said so?
    hrm.. Chinese sweat shops… lesse… China, a nation know for using prison slave labor; a nation without much respect for human rights, etc etc etc. A nation whose government encourages low cost manual labor since an employed prole is a calm prole. A nation which needs to sort its own problems out to begin with.
    even if this was the issue, it wasnt the issue I was talking about to begin with. If its a moral issue, its me questioning if marxy is making a moral issue of advertorial mooks that I see as good business sense.

    marxy: I’m rather glad that the local market doesnt really buy into illogical sniveling like No Logo. I’m glad to live in a country where people are civilized enough to see that sort of self sensationalism for what it is.

    As for the workers not being able to afford their own goods, this is questionable. Every analyst I’ve seen claims that the downtrend in spending on consumer goods is more due to overall non-spending/increased savings. I dont think that relates to the LV bags since those arent made in Japan to begin with, and as for the LMC buying it, how much of what is sold in Ueno Ameyokocho (for example) is real to begin with? If people are indeed spending beyond their means with sarakin financing, thats a whole seperate issue.

    Otherwise, thanks for clearing up your stance on the media. Every regular here knows it already, but some new readers may not. If that was your point originally, it might have been more clear to say so from the beginning.

    mmm: it sure is good to be able to buy stuff that fits! If you like Uniclo sizing, check out Cosco sometime. Good prices on nice cotton dress shirts and slacks.

  31. marxy Says:

    If its a moral issue, its me questioning if marxy is making a moral issue of advertorial mooks that I see as good business sense.

    If you do not believe that media should have an editorial integrity (ie, advertisement pressures do not change editorial content), then it’s just business. The dangerous thing, however, is that the media uses the power of its implied independence, yet behind closed doors, sells its program time to companies. Oosama no Buranchi (popular weekend wideshow) does not tell its audience that its segments cost the restaurants/stores 1,000,000 yen a pop. The appearance is that they’ve been implicitly “chosen” by Oosama’s editorial team.

    . Every analyst I’ve seen claims that the downtrend in spending on consumer goods is more due to overall non-spending/increased savings.

    The trend on household savings has been in decline for the last 20 years, no?

    I’m glad to live in a country where people are civilized enough to see that sort of self sensationalism for what it is.

    Right, like the anti-globalization issue is well-known in Japan and everyone actively rejected its arguments! More like, “I’m glad to live in a country where no one knows anything about the things I am against.”

    How much of what is sold in Ueno Ameyokocho (for example) is real to begin with?

    Japanese consumers buy the least amount of fake goods compared to other countries. “Authenticity” is important, because no one wants to get caught with a fake bag.

  32. Chris_B Says:

    marxy: calm down a bit, take the “good business sense” thing in context. If you were a marketing manager here, and your job was to get your company’s product or brand message to the people, and you know that press is just like shelf space in a market, wouldnt you do the same?

    I made those comments in the context of the local business environment. What I personally think the press should or shouldn’t be is just an opinion if it already is a certain way. You (finally) stated that you want it to be more western and I said thanks for the clarification.

    I mis-spoke on “increased” savings, I should have said “consistant” savings or just plain non-spending since the decrease in spending is percieved as the root of the deflation.

    As far as your comment in quotation marks about globalization, I have no idea what you mean. In any case why would people here be against one of the foundations of the business system?

    As for the least ammount of counterfit goods, that does not mean that counterfit goods are not available for sale or that they are not purchased. Tell me you think the piles of bags in the aformentioned location are genuine. I dont dispute the large sales volume here, I’m just stating there is also a fair ammount of counterfit business as well.

  33. Roddy Says:

    “When artsts get pretentious, they experiment, and often that innovation spreads.”
    -Marxy

    But when pop artists experiment they often do so within the strict confines of their pop expertise, leading to music that’s neither really pop nor actually experimental, just bland, alienating lovers of pop music as well as those who like their sounds more raw and experimental. If clear alignment between intention and reception is any measure of aesthetic success, then JPop is the best pop because it achieves exactly what it aims for: blissful narcotic entertainment.

    For me it’s more interesting when people come from the experimental realm into the pop realm, like John Cale (a student of John Cage) joining the other members of the Velvet Underground to create something fresh. Through Cale’s fucked up experimental sensibility, Tucker’s complete lack of percussion skill, Reed’s attitude, Morrison’s nonchalance, and Warhol’s fame, they made something no one had heard before. Cale didn’t play rock because he wanted to experiment, he played it because he wanted to quit experimenting and play the music he loved even if his sense of pop was completely warped through too much avant-garde filtering.

  34. marxy Says:

    If clear alignment between intention and reception is any measure of aesthetic success, then JPop is the best pop because it achieves exactly what it aims for: blissful narcotic entertainment.

    Well then it’s failing miserably, the market’s lost 34% of its total value in the last 5 years.

    Nothing could be more bland that J-pop from the last three or four years, so I don’t know what could hurt it from either artistic pretention or ANY kind of innovation. I see your point about a possible problem from mixing, but I think creative stagnancy isn’t what the consumer wants.

    Take a look at Rolling Stone Best Album Ever readers’ polls: Revolver and Sgt. Pepper’s always make the top 5, because they’re some of the most innovative pop records of all time. “Hey Ya” wasn’t exactly copying high art, but the fact that it brought weird time signatures and indie pop elements into urban music certainly contributed to its success, both critically and artistically.

    There seems to be a weird current in Post-modernist or contemporary cultural studies-type academic thought that oddly resents any middlebrow mixing of high-art and low-art. Everyone writes impenetrable prose about the joys of populist arts, but hate it when someone in the commodities market tries to take in hi-art ideas. Murakami can be a high-artist with comic books, but god forbid a pop musician try to deal with conceptual themes…

  35. Chris_B Says:

    marxy: if the market has gone down so much, from what I’ve seen its probably in large part due to milking the cash cow till it bleeds. there is a limit to how much of a good thing you can ram down the public’s throat and it looks to me like the clowns at Avex/Sony/ToshibaEMI tried to force too much at once for too long.

  36. roddy Says:

    “[…] the market’s lost 34% of its total value in the last 5 years”

    I think what I find irritating about Marxy’s arguments is that they consistently seem to assume that market performance is the de facto standard by which musical arts can be judged, presenting statistics of financial value as incontrovertible proof of his idiosyncratic world-view.

    “Everyone writes impenetrable prose about the joys of populist arts, but hate it when someone in the commodities market tries to take in hi-art ideas.”

    Like who?

    “commodities market”

    Did we suddenly start talking about vacuum cleaner sales? Weird…

  37. marxy Says:

    presenting statistics of financial value as incontrovertible proof of his idiosyncratic world-view.

    I understand your opposition to this idea, but I’m using that stat as a convienent way to say: Japanese consumers are not particularly pleased with the musical products – and they are products – that they’re offered. Some of the decline has to do with other factors but polls generally show an increasing disinterest in the current J-pop world among young people. The market got super concentrated in the late 90s (1/4 of all top singles being from only 3 jiumsho etc.) and this has crushed innovation.

    Did we suddenly start talking about vacuum cleaner sales? Weird…

    Pop songs, fashion, pieces of art are all commodities, albeit sometimes made with artistic intention. They are traded and sold on a market according to an exchange value.

    Back to your original statement, I think you’re trying to say that Japanese pop music is super poppy and melodic and doesn’t try to be particularly cool, and this aspect is appealing. I used to think so as well, but everyone I know who had a love affair with Jpop in the late 90s now is very bored with the entire market’s offerings. If you can give me some 2005 examples of great super-fake Jpop, I’ll consider your argument. (As with almost everything on this site, I really want to believe that everything’s going to be alright, but I’m just not seeing the evidence.)

  38. marxy Says:

    if the market has gone down so much, from what I’ve seen its probably in large part due to milking the cash cow till it bleeds.

    I think you can apply this to Japanese pop culture as a whole: the whole 90s explosion was an overheated market. For a bunch of social and economic reasons, there were way too many kids into fashion, music, art, and design when compared to similar markets around the world, and the last couple of years have been a “market correction.”

    They’ll always be super trendy kids into the latest thing – just like everywhere else – but Middle Japan will cease to consume like the upper-taste crew. Tying this back up to the main theme, Uniqlo is the natural response to Japan’s socioeconomic conditions, although the new bland mediocrity puts a hamper on us foreigners enjoying the place. This taste deflation is probably an easing of social pressures, however. For the first time in a long time, kids can get away with ignoring the Tokyo upper-middle class trends without too much slack.

  39. PTOR Says:

    Yes, but didn’t Muji do the same with Casa Brutus last year? Print is just ads anyway. That’s their business. Why not let them buy a whole issue. It’s the exposure. I can understand if you don’t like for one of your favorite publications to sell out like that, but unfortunately, marketing has evolved. Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of adbusters.com. I cover most logos in my own home with electrical tape, but the tide is strong. (ironic how Muji started out to counter this, but then got involved too.) What can you do…

  40. marxy Says:

    Magazines used to be independent editorial subsidized by advertising, but with magazine sales in decline and no ethical barriers, Japanese editorial offices are happy to sell the whole magazine out. Why would anyone want to hear independent ideas and opinions anyway?

  41. tresor Says:

    but this magazine you guys are talking about– isnt this similar to the Jpnese magazines that feature their whole mag on Louis Vuitton or Chanel>? and how are those selling in Japan>