Ethical laundry: Detergent-free, in cold water or by hand?

Image result for eco laundry detergent ratings
Image from Consumer Reports

Ethical laundry: Washing without detergent – is it possible?

 

Because this blog deals with fashion, it is only natural to ask: “How do you wash your clothes?” Recently, I wrote about sustainable fabrics for fashion and one way of reducing the environmental impact of your wardrobe is by washing consciously.
So may I ask you: How do you take care of your clothes in the most eco friendly way?
One option is to wash your clothes less or not at all and occasionally rub off stains locally.
Another one is to use the most eco-friendly detergent.
A further possibility is to wash without any detergent. My colleague recently told an anecdotal story where she put in a load of washing but had run out of detergent. Her laundry still came out smelling nice and looking fresh, so it is possible.
However, if you want more cleanliness or have stained clothes (including from messy outdoor activities by your kids) you need something that is strong and effective.
But lets look at Japan, one of my favourite countries! Not only because it is a mix of ancient tradition and ultra-modern technology, or because it just launched a Hello-Kitty-themed Shinkansen bullet train, but simply because of its dedication to improving, inventing and augmenting the way we live. And this is true for laundry, too.
Japan has recently brought a new product to the market which promises to be 100% eco friendly when it comes to detergents.
It is called Terra Wash +Mg.

I quote this source: “‘Terra’ means ‘Earth’ in Latin, Magnesium is a key element necessary for the life on Earth. Terra Wash+Mg is the new laundry revolution from Japan that aims to change the world with power of this miracle element, magnesium!

Terra Wash+Mg is ideal for off-grid and sustainable living since you can use water from washing clothes with Terra Wash+Mg for irrigation of your garden. Magnesium contained in used water can help crops grow healthier.”

The eco-friendly product features are listed here:

  • Reusable for 365 washes/ 1 year > Save time and money!
  • Works for laundry load up to approx. 8kg(17lb)
  • Works for any type of washing machine.
  • Works for both soft and hard water/ cold and hot water > Using hot water may be stronger in cleaning property, but using cold water may be more economical and Eco-friendly.
  • Best in body odour removal [Fragrance Free] > About 10 times stronger than regular detergent.
  • Suds-FREE> no need for white vinegar, fabric conditioners or rinse cycles. Saves money!
  • Human friendly > 100% free of toxic and synthetic chemicals = Perfect for sensitive skin and  kids. Protects people’s health by keeping the washing machine hygienic.
  • Earth friendly > Leaves zero trace of chemicals and save tons of water and power.
  • Fabric friendly & Antibacterial > Maintains fibers and colour. Great for organic cotton.
  • SAFE for children and pets – no threat of spilling and poisoning
  • Best Quality > Made in Japan using patent-protected innovative technology with certified test result.
  • Cleans your pipes at the same time, preserving the life of the washing machine
How does Terra Wash work?

This seems like a real break-through product for the fashion life cycle and environment and I am tempted to try it. However, it does come at a hefty price to start with at over GBP40. It is intended to last 365 washes, but still is probably ten times as expensive as one large bottle or regular laundry detergent.

There are also several international competitors on the market: Washwow, the SmartKlean Laundry Ball, Lavmatic Washing Ball or Biocera Green Ball. Alternatively, there are soap nuts which are a type of dried fruit with cleaning properties.


Ethical laundry: Washing without microplastics – is it possible?

A further way to tackle the washing conundrum is by using the latest washing machines.

The ETHICAL consumer lists washing machine ratings here and informs about environmental impacts. One that has been at the center of attention lately is microplastic and microfiber which is found in clothing, cosmetics and other products.

I love the educational video:

The Ethical Consumer consults on microfibres and what to do about them:

“60% of clothing is now made from polyester, a fabric that sheds tiny strands of plastic every time it is washed. According to Greenpeace, one item of clothing can release 700,000 fibres in a single laundry load.

Once in dirty washing water these bits of plastic go to water treatment plants and then into our taps or into the sea. In fact, between 15% and 31% of marine plastic pollution could be from tiny particles released by households and businesses, rather than larger plastic items that degrade once they reach the sea.

Such plastics are putting marine ecosystems at risk, as they are consumed by fish and other animal populations. They clog up marine organisms’ intestinal tracts, suppress their hunger by making them feel full, and cause infertility. They also damage corals (one of the most effective protections from the effects of climate warming).

The Plastic Pollution Coalition has suggested a few ways to minimize the impact when you wash your clothes:

Wash cooler. High temperatures damage clothing, releasing more microfibres.

Change to liquid detergent. Laundry powder scrubs at clothes releasing more fibres.  (Although the irony of this is that liquid detergent is more likely to come in plastic packaging …)

Fill the machine. A full load causes less friction.

Buy a lint filter – around £10-20.

Purchase a Guppy Friend wash bag. Some tests found that these caught around 99% of fibres, when clothes are placed inside the bag before washing. They also minimise the number of fibres released in the first place. The bags cost £20-25, and can be purchased through Langbrett or Patagonia for shipment to the UK.”

 

Ethical laundry: Washing cold – is it possible?

 

Did you know there is one country in the world which has default eco-friendly washing machines? Of course, it is Japan (did you guess?)

When I lived in Japan, I got to have a first-hand experience with washing in Japanese machines. What is different about them? They wash exclusively on cold cycles with cold water. There is an entire history to this industrial decision and the outcome could be judged as a default eco-friendly approach to washing. According to the New York Times (2011)”about three-quarters of energy use and greenhouse-gas emissions from washing a load of laundry come from heating the water – a practice that, say scientists, is often wasteful and unnecessary.”

Selection of laundry appliances in a Japanese store. Image source here.

However, as this blogger My Japan Slice anecdotally describes her washing plight in Japan, sometimes the clothes do not come out smelling fresh or stain-free and generally the washing detergents need to be reformulated if we were to use with cold water in other parts of the world.

Procter and Gamble estimate that 38% of laundry washed globally is currently using cold water cycles. This is a great business proposition and many manufacturers of washing detergents are trying to break into this new market to make profit. For me, it would need more research to establish the pros and cons of using these detergents vs. eco-friendly ones with hot water. How much damage do the new cold water detergents cause to the environment? Is this really more sustainable (paired with the cold water) or just a marketing gimmick?

 

Ethical laundry: Is it a first-world problem?

Image Source from Greener Cleaner

It must be said, that this a first-world issue where we have access to mountains of cheaply made fashion, where nearly every household or building has a washing machine and our shelves are full of myriads of detergents. If you owned the very basics of clothes, lets say one shirt, one sweater, one coat, a few pairs of socks and underwear and one pretty dress (or suit), you would have much less to wash and you would automatically wear each item longer and with more care not to get it soiled as washing it would leave you out of clothes or with only one substitute. You might have to wash your one tshirt by hand with a bar of naturally-made soap in naturally cold water in the most eco-friendly “washing machine”: a tub. In fact, I would recommend to everyone to try and hand-wash their clothes for a week. It can change your perspective and make you re-evaluate the modern commodities we use, the labour that they reduce but also the frequency and ignorance that is automatically implied when using modern appliances.

If you really want to give it a try, I recommend reading this article “How To Hand Wash Clothes Without Detergent – The Ultimate Guide with instructions” by Thetipsforyou.com

How to hand wash in the most eco-friendly way.

 

Or perhaps you might want to find ancient historical recipes that were used in ancient Rome, Egypt and Asia such as sulfur, charcoal, soda or even urine. Yes, as unappetizing as it sounds, in ancient Rome urine was frequently used due to the natural ammonia to wash clothes.

On this note, I would like to re-post a few images from The Spruce where manual laundry habits from around the world have been poetically captured.

Laundry Around the World

The chore of doing laundry is universal. Every country and culture has its own routines; some are primitive and others have evolved as the country’s infrastructure has modernized with electricity, natural gas, and running water.

As you travel around the world, observing how laundry is done offers an insight into the area’s economy and culture. When we complain about having to do laundry in the United States in our automated laundromats or inconvenient basement laundry rooms, take a momentMOR

 

Dhobi Ghat, Mumbai, India

Mumbai
Bethany Clarke/ Getty Images

Nearly every early morning in central Mumbai, India, more than 8,000 people can be found hard at work at Dhobi Ghat. Known as the world’s largest laundry, Dhobi Ghat has 800 wash stations with flogging stones where local workers report at 4 a.m. to begin handwashing clothes and linens for schools, hospitals, hotels, and individuals.

The washing done by the Dhobis, as the workers are called, is very different from our idea of handwashing a few delicate items in a sink. The clothes and linens are literally beaten on a rock surface to loosen soil and then rinsed and hung to air dry.

 

Mozambique, Africa

Mozambique
Camilla Watson/ Getty Images

This Mozambique woman headed to the river to wash the clothes and linen for her family, spreading them out on the fresh, clean grass to dry.

-> See all the beautiful images here.

 

How do you do your laundry? Which detergents do you use and what kind of washing machine do you have, if any? Is there a way to reduce the environmental impact?

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Berlin (Steglitz) 2018 – feisty Miniso next to Uniqlo

What’s retail doing in Berlin’s up-and-coming Steglitz area in 2018?

Here is a little update:

On the large and long shopping Street of Schloßstraße in the South of town, a remarkable little shop has opened up and is situated right next to Uniqlo.

The shop is called Miniso and when I first passed it, I had to do a double-take as I was sure it must be a Muji store, or was it a new establishment by Uniqlo? It’s very hard to tell at first glance as the logo, its colour and typeface is very similar to those famous Japanese Brands.

The Miniso logo – does it remind you of anything?

I stopped by this shop and looked inside. It looks very much like a Muji store with little items for personal care or the home. Below the logo it even states that this is a “Japanese Designer Brand.”

Inside the Miniso store in Berlin Steglitz.

So what is this mystery store? Well, according to thelowdown the retail brand describes itself as:

“Established in Tokyo, MINISO, the Japanese fast fashion designer brand. MINISO pursues a “simple, natural and quality” life philosophy and a brand proposition.”

But other sources report that MINISO is founded by Chinese, run by Chinese, and headquartered in Guangzhou, China. It uses the name of a Japanese graduate Miyake Junya from the famous Bunka university in Tokyo as one of the founders, but reportedly this person is more a PR stunt it seems.

Miniso’s branding looks like a combination of Muji, Daiso and Uniqlo. From the goods they sell, to the design of their stores, even down to their logo, they have a very Uniqlo look to it. They started in 2013 and have been expanding aggressively and globally:

According to their own website, they have opened 2600 stores around the world within four years. By 2015, MINISO’s global revenue reached USD 750 million and is expected to grow to USD 1.5 billion by the end of 2016. In 2017, the sales volume of MINISO reached USD 1.8 billion.

And unlike pseudo-Japanese brand Superdry, Miniso is not shy to establish itself in the country which they emulate. It has shops in Japan and products even feature Japanese writing, as one would have seen on Muji labels. However it is said to be grammatically often incorrect because the brand uses a free online translation tool.

As I passed the store, I wondered how ethically correct it is to blatantly copy the successful competitors and even position the store in Berlin’s Steglitz right next to someone it is copying, namely Uniqlo.

Miniso-Uniqlo_POST

Other remarkable things on Schloßstraße is the now defunct but trendy “Bierpinsel” tower which is rumored to soon house a restaurant or bar again. It reminded me of the Nakagin Capsule complex in Tokyo which I blogged about in the past.

Bierpinsel Tower in Steglitz has been spray-painted by an artist not long ago. It stands empty as far as I could tell but is rumored to soon house a restaurant or bar.

Let me know your thoughts and in the meantime, greetings from Berlin!
xx

The Brooklyn Museum is talking to Kansai Yamamoto about David Bowie – May 17th!

How exciting!

Kansai Yamamoto is one of my favourite designers who I have previously reported on when I discovered a cool sweater in London’s Hammersmith! And now the Brooklyn Museum is hosting Kansai Yamamoto in person, who will be speaking to Vanessa Friedman, fashion director and chief fashion critic for the New York Times.

If you happen to be there on Thursday, May 17, 2018 from 7–9 pm do go to the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Auditorium, 3rd Floor.

Image result for brooklyn museum
The Brooklyn Museum

 

Friedman and Yamamoto-san will be discussing his sartorial collaborations with David Bowie, including creating the iconic “Space Samurai” jumpsuit for the 1972 Ziggy Stardust tour and several of the objects featured in David Bowie is.

The Fashion Network reports: “The discussion is part of the “David Bowie is” exhibition currently being hosted at the Brooklyn Museum, which is the exhibition’s last stop after five years touring the globe. Many of the pieces that Yamamoto created for Bowie are among the over 400 objects on display, which include Bowie’s original costumes, handwritten lyrics, photographs and videos, and have been sourced primarily from the David Bowie Archive.

The exhibition, which is organized by London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, is described in a release as “an immersive, multimedia installation” and seeks to track Bowie’s creative journey throughout his life, exploring how the original artist’s legacy has shaped contemporary culture and society.”

Image source here.

The evening with Yamamoto-san is part of an exhibition on David Bowie which launches on March 2. In New York, it was organized by the institution’s Senior Curator of Fashion and Material Culture Matthew Yokobosky together with the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, where the exhibition debuted in 2013 and reportedly became the most-visited exhibition in the gallery’s history.

THE CUT writes that “at the heart of the exhibition are hand-written lyric sheets, drawings, paintings, music videos, television clips, and costumes by the late British designer Freddie Burretti alongside seven costumes that Yamamoto designed for Bowie during his “Ziggy Stardust” and “Aladdin Sane” tours.”

If you would like to read up on this topic, I can recommend this article by THE CUT entitled: Dressing David Bowie As ‘Ziggy Stardust’ who ahead of the Brooklyn Museum opening, spoke with Yamamoto about his memories of Bowie and the Japanese theater techniques that inspired the singer’s legendary performances.

Enjoy!

London’s eternity: In books, buildings and bespoke shoes

London is an eternal city, it is full of historical significance and amidst change and movement, there are places of complete standstill, older than any of the passers-by.

© The Print Collector—Heritage-Images/Imagestate

The Old Curiosity Shop, 13-14 Portsmouth Street WC2A

In Holborn, near the wonderful London School of Economics, not far from King’s College and the Thames river, is a very old and historical part of town where presently, there is a lot of construction going on.

Image source here.

But amidst all the updates, refurbishments and additions to Central London, there are historical sights which have not changed for centuries.

You might think that I am speaking of great and famous buildings which there are plenty here in London, but I am referring to the tiniest and most humble structures with arguably some of the greatest significance in terms of history and continuity of this beautiful city.

 

The Old Curiosity Shop as it stands in November 2017 – it’s 5th Century here. How many people has it seen walk past on this very corner?

The place I have photographed here is no other then THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP made immortal by Charles Dickens’ novel. I love the backdrop of intense construction and the 16th Century shop in  a bubble of eternal tranquility. Whereas in other cities of the world the memories of the past would have had to crumble under the pressure of the heavy wallets of property investors, London preserves and protects many heritage sites. Thank goodness.

Of course, it is not where Nell Trent and her grandfather actually lived, for this was fiction, nor was it called “The Old Curiosity Shop” when the novel was published in the mid-19th Century, but received its name later – probably due to the immense popularity of the book.

But the present day resident is still a remarkable protagonist, if you like. The Japanese designer shoemaker Kimura Daita-san has set up an atelier where he makes incredible bespoke shoes, a rather English tradition you could argue.

 

I quote Chrissy Grübel from her fantastic post

“Kimura has been in residence since 1992, crafting truly unique designs for both men and women. What will you find? Shiny leather oxfords, cool “hog-toed” boots, colorful unisex sneakers—classic shapes with modern details that can live in anyone’s wardrobe. I am personally begging for the Eley Kishimoto laceups: “Please, sir. I want some more.” Yes, I know this quote is from a different Dickens novel, but I’m a blogger not a scholar.

The shop may only exist in a magical lil’ nook of what I think is the most magical city on earth, but luckily for those who don’t share my urban obsession, you can shop online! There is justice in the world!”

You can see the full collection of shoes here and below is a movie made by Kimura-san:

 

 

Alpha Books, 1 Portsmouth St, London WC2A 2ES (corner of Sheffield St.)

And then, opposite The Curiosity Shop is another gem: Alpha Books. This shop provides the university students, lecturers (like me) and bibliophiles with rare, used, out-of print or specialty books at very decent prices. It is, not to say the least, quite a “Dickensian” sort of place. When I went in, an grumpy man hidden behind a partition and half-way into an antique stairway leading to the basement. I could not see the man at first, but only hear him grumbling and ranting.

I asked: “Exuse me?”

He shouted: “Yes, excuse me! We are busy, you have to wait!”

And when he had carried a box out to the door I asked: “Yesterday, you had a book on structuralism outside…”

“Yes! By Piaget,” he finished my sentence and then went on to fetch it out the many random piles of books on the floor.

Incredible, I thought, because not only did he know exactly which book it was, he also found it within the seeming chaos in a split second! And it is an out-of-print 1971 edition! Of an author who only certain people even have heard of!

If I was filming a scene of a movie, this would be it. Only at that point, I was in the movie. A shop devoid of any signs of modernity, inside or out. It could have been the 1980s, the 1950s, or earlier.

Alpha books and its owner are a cultural heritage of London.

 

A view from inside the bookshop, looking at one of the London School of Economics’ buildings.

Whilst in the shop, and scanning it’s book tables just outside I fell in love with at least 5 more and will be stopping there again. Alpha books is a rarity for connoisseurs, of knowledge, history and authenticity, when bookstores are disappearing and gentrification is making little old curiosity shops extinct. The owner can be grumpy if he likes, I don’t mind – this place is not to be missed.

With love from London,

Olga

xx

Kansai Yamamoto thrifty Tribute

Ladies and gents, boys and girls,

Have you ever heard of the Japanese Designer Kansai Yamamoto? Yes, no or maybe? Just to give you a little hint (or reminder for those who know him), he is one of the most colourful, experimental and legendary designers who clothed David Bowie for his Ziggy Stardust Tour. 山本 寛斎 is just fabulous!
david-bowie-and-kansai-yamamoto-in-japan-1973

Image above: Kansai Yamamoto and David Bowie trying on one of Yamamoto’s creations. Sourced here.

It was just my luck, that strolling through London, as one does, I should veer off the road into a thrift store and discover…drum rolls please…a Kansai Yamamoto sweater from the 80s!With a beautiful appliqué dragon and “Kansai Yamamoto” appliqué signature below it.

Kansai Sweater 2

 

The thrift store ladies gave it away almost for free, asking with much concern on their faces: “Are you going to wear it out or just at home?” Yes, of course, OF COURSE I am going to wear it out! I don’t care if I look like I just arrived fresh from the 80s in a time machine, this is a Yamamoto original and my tribute to his great talent.

Check it out:

The discovery of this vintage piece is coincidentally perfectly timed with the Louis Vuitton 2018 Cruise Collection Show in Kyoto, Japan – held on May 14, 2017! Nicholas Ghesquière made a vivid tribute to Yamamoto and it turns out he is a fan of his just like moi.

 

 

Louis Vuitton 2018 Cruise Collection – Image source here.
Louis Vuitton 2018 Cruise Collection seen here.

If you are as inspired as I am, you might like to check out Pinterest with lots of fantastic images of his creations: https://uk.pinterest.com/beaconscloset/kansai-yamamoto/?lp=true

And if you feel like you must have a retro piece, too, there are a few sites which offer Kansai Yamamoto vintage pieces: https://www.1stdibs.com/creators/kansai-yamamoto/fashion/

Have you got a cool vintage story to tell? I would love to hear from you!

Olga xx

The Pretenders: A look at pseudo-international brand names

Dear readers,

In March I gave two mini-lectures to the Business School students at the London College of Fashion on the subject of international branding and talked about brand names inside and outside of Japan. Here is part of the lecture which I hope you will enjoy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Pretenders: A look at pseudo-international brand names

Superdry is a fashion brand with a logo that features Roman letters and the Japanese Kana und Kanji alphabets – they are two of the three alphabets commonly used in the Japanese language. If you wanted to use the logo to figure out where the brand is from, you would be faced with quite a challenge, similar to finding out whether the American Hamburger really originated in Hamburg….

But let me explain!

 

Bild 1: Superdry Logo. Quelle: http://www.realclothesforsale.com/

Image 1: Superdry Logo.

Yes, the 3 Superdry founders really have been to Japan (so this part is true) at some point in the past, but they never lived there, they are not from Japan, they do not even speak “Nihongo” (Japanese language in, erm, Japanese) let alone know how to write it. They did, however, fall in love with things like the Asahi Super Dry beer and many other products which claim to be “super”-something. This led the founders to start a fashion label based in the small British town of Cheltenham which is not very exotic I would say.

(http://www.superdry.com/about-us)

Bild 2: Asahi Super Dry Bier. Quelle: http://www.e-aidem.com/aps/02_A50827134687_detail.htmImage 2: Asahi Super Dry Beer.

Now the famous Superdry logo is based on graphics also inspired by Japan and it is very popular in many countries around the world. It is also an important USP (unique selling proposition) for a fashion brand. But what exactly does this Japanese combination of letters mean? When you read Superdry’s famous graphics 極度乾燥(しなさい) you hear “Kyokudo Kanso (shinasai)” which can be translated to something like “Extremely dry (do it now)” – and it is not a polite request at all but rather an order which parents might give to children. In 2011, the Superdry founders admitted that this is pure gibberish which they like to print on their merchandise, but that did not deter the fans.

They are pretenders!

Bild 3: Superdry Werbung. Quelle: http://www.thedrum.com/news/2012/08/17/superdry-appoints-icrossing-search-accountsImage 3: Superdry advertisement.

Ok, so the founders are pretending that their brand is from Japan. Fair enough. But why are people ready to wear gibberish on their clothes, so much so that Superdry, which was founded in 1985, was able to offer an IPO about 6 years ago? For those who might not be familiar with the financial market, an IPO is an Initial Public Offering on the stock exchange and means that a company or brand is thriving and can promise investors further growth in the future.

Did the founders think that everything that looks Japanese is so cool that it will always sell? And do Japanese think the same way? Interestingly, or perhaps logically, there is not one Superdry store in Japan.
This is however, a strategic step by the brand, as Japanese people would not know what on earth they are supposed to think of the phrase of “Jinglish” – a mix of Japanese and Englisch. In fact, in Japan the popular items are T-Shirts with English or French Prints and fashion brands which sound Western – the exact opposite of Superdry’s appeal in the West.

Bild 4: Shibuya 109, Tokyo. Quelle: http://jpninfo.com/4979Image 4: Department store Shibuya 109, Tokyo.

They sound almost authentic, these Western brands which are called Dainy by JURIANOJURRIE or YUMMY MART by PEACH JOHN, Delyle NOIR as well as Ober Tashe. These are just some of the labels which are on offer in one of the most famous department stores in Tokyo, the Shibuya 109 – or “Ichi-Maru-Kyu” as the locals call it by spelling out the number. This is a fashion mecca for lovers of J-Fashion where young and fashion-conscious people flock to in the search for fashion styles like „Kawaii“ (= super cute), „Gyaru“ (super girly) or „oshare“ (highly fashionable).

 

Bild 5: Liz Lisa. Quelle: http://universal-doll.com/2014/06/shop-staff-68-liz-lisa-machida-109-yokohama/Image 5: Liz Lisa.

And just like the exotic names of the aforementioned fashion brands, customers also love T-Shirt with prints in „Jinglish”: „World Difference Execute“ or „Trusting To Luck. Everything is in your hand“ or „Much Like Hold“ they read. (More trends of Japanese T-Shirts are here: http://mrstsk.tumblr.com/post/80665324669)

Bild 6: T-Shirt mit „Jinglish“ Print. Quelle: http://www.liberalamerica.org/2014/12/01/in-japan-t-shirts-with-reallyyyy-random-english-words-are-a-thing/Image  6: T-Shirt with „Jinglish“ print.

In Japan, the English-inspired prints are not limited to shirts nor to Tokyo, but you can find thm on all sorts of products (chocolate, cosmetics, bath essences etc.) and all over the country.

 

Bild 7: Fancl Japan

Image 7: Fancl Japan

 

One wonders why Japanese people might find foreign language gibberish so cool and one speculates what a customer values in such a product which is pretending to be foreign.

Afterall, Peach John or Fancl are also pretenders as they are local Japanese brands!

In the case of Superdry it is probably the attraction of a foreign alphabet which is impossible to decipher, and costs around €100 if printed on to an “extremely dry” sweatshirt which paradoxically does not absorb moisture nor shield you from the rain. The printed letters convey the poular image of Japanese products being high-tech and superior in quality. The customer transfers these characteristics onto the brand – irrespectable of its true qualities.

The Branding Journal reasons: “Research has shown that European consumers aspire and exhibit inclination towards Japanese brands and this is reflected in their purchase decisions. Moreover, packaging/products scripted in Japanese tend to exude a certain degree of quality and “wow” factor in the customer’s perception.” (http://www.thebrandingjournal.com/2016/03/the-superdry-appeal/)

Superdry has thus managed to turn this perception into a print and logo and then into its brand value. This same psychological mechanism can probably be applied to the Western brand names in Japan. Pretending to be a foreign brand seems to pay off quite well!

And how did Superdry admit its brand origin? Watch this video and see if you can spot the “truth”!

 

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Hoshinoya Hotel Tokyo – a brand new old-style Ryokan

The Hoshinoya opened in 2016

Today’s post is once again influenced by my love for Japan, Tokyo and the amazing buildings that you can find there.

Riddle me this: You do construction work in a multi-million people city and find a natural hot spring. What do you do with it?

Answer: You do some more construction work and put a multi-million-yen building on top of it, call it a traditional-yet-modern Japanese Inn and connect the hot-spring up to the 17th floor.

This is very close to what really happened in downtown Tokyo very recently. The result is the magnificent Hoshinoya Hotel right smack in the middle of Tokyo’s business district Otemachi – a 5-star treat with a real Japanese flair.

The Telegraph describes the interiors:

“A clever addition to Tokyo’s hotel scene, the city’s first luxury ryokan fuses contemporary design and traditional craftsmanship with high-tech touches. The tower is encased in a black metal grid repeating a traditional Japanese kimono motif.

Inside, there is a dramatic double-height genkan entrance with a seasonal flower display, indigo walls, sliding paper screens, expanses of aromatic Japanese wood and modern-style cotton jersey kimono outfits for guests.

The 84 guestrooms are split into groups of six on 14 floors – with each floor resembling a self-contained ryokan inn, with its own Ochanoma lounge. Here, at a communal wooden table or on low sofas, staff serve o nigiri rice balls, coffee, tea or seasonal sakes.”

Omotenashi
Omotenashi

Hoshinoya is good at hospitality and excellent service, because that is what Japan is good at. In the style of a tradition al Ryokan (Guesthouse or Inn) the staff takes care of the guest and makes sure that he or she longs for nothing. This concept is known as “omotenashi” in Japanese and it is truly lived to its fullest potential.

Omotenashi - long-for-nothing at the Hoshinoya.
Omotenashi – long-for-nothing at the Hoshinoya.

 

What does it cost to whatch your dreams on a fluffy futon, after soaking in the Onsen, enjoying a dinner delight of the most delicious traditional Japanese cuisine and staff bringing you tea and slippers before bed time? It will be in the region of $590 to $1000, depending on season and room options. But remember: When you are there, you must take off your shoes at the entrance and show your best manners.

Sliding washi screens and tatami mats with soft futon beds make up the standard room at the Hoshinoya Hotel.
Sliding washi screens and tatami mats with soft futon beds make up the standard room at the Hoshinoya Hotel.