Textile Industry/Apparel Market in Japan: Key Research Findings 2022

Digital Fashion: The Next Trend in Apparel Industry

Yano Research Institute (the President, Takashi Mizukoshi) has conducted a survey on the domestic textile industry and apparel-related markets, and identified the trends by field and market outlook. This press release highlights the market status of digital fashion in Japan.

Summary of Research Findings

A scope of fashion has expanded to the virtual space, gaining worldwide recognition in the last few years. Fashion in the metaverse (online virtual space), known as digital fashion*1, is spreading, especially among young people as a new form of self-expression.

One of the reasons for expansion of the metaverse is the restrictions on in-person contact during COVID-19 crisis, which grew the demand for interpersonal communication in the virtual space. For another, as the increasing popularity of online conferencing system propelled a wider adoption of new workstyle, like working from home and telework, having contact on virtual space become more accessible.

Meanwhile, the term metaverse has been used mostly in the context of online video games. There is no fashion company that is successful in the sales of NFT*2, advertising, or events at present. A majority of fashion companies in Japan is still wondering to join, or barely started business on the metaverse.

*1: Digital fashion refers to virtual clothing and fashion items designed for avatars in the metaverse. It is used as an antonym of ‘physical’ fashion, which indicates clothes tangible and wearable for real humans.
*2: NFT is short for Non-Fungible Token, a unique digital identifier used to certify authenticity and ownership of digital assets that is recorded in a blockchain. It is mostly used in the content business, for instance, digital trading cards for game characters and athletes, and digital art.

Noteworthy Topics

Challenges of Digital Fashion in Japan

Domestic apparel industry is facing challenges in the market development of digital fashion. As in the preceding cases in Europe and the U.S., laws specific to the design of digital and physical fashion must be set in place, such as protection of intellectual property rights. However, the current condition indicates that the market has not even reached that stage yet.

To monetize the digital fashion, designers need to enhance contents (digital fashion) by making full use of 3D digital technology, while marketers create the marketing strategy customized to the needs of target customers.

Meanwhile, the majority of fashion companies is merely opening pop-up stores in the virtual space as a part of sales promotion to attract customers to physical stores. As long as the virtual store remains as an irregular marketing event, digital fashion will not be an actual full-fledged business (trade) for apparel companies.

In addition, the challenge lies in the size of the metaverse userbase. While it is assumed that there is a certain number of potential users particularly among online gamers, to allure them to join the metaverse, hardware evolution and/or low-end virtual reality (VR) devices must be made available. To facilitate the advancement of the digital fashion market, fashion companies and other players relevant to the digital space, such as metaverse platformers, hardware suppliers, content engineers and content creators, to work in tandem to build a business foundation for the metaverse.

Research Outline

1.Research Period: September to December 2022
2.Research Object: Textile industry/apparel companies in Japan
3.Research Methogology: Face-to-face interviews by our expert researchers (including online interviews), mailed questionnaire, and literature research.

What is the Textile Industry/Apparel Market?

In this research, the textile industry/apparel market refers to textile in general (by product, woven fabrics, knitted fabrics, synthetic fabrics, non-woven fabrics, fabrics for industrial use, etc.; by process, dyeing/finishing, spinning, etc.) and clothing in general (men’s clothing, women’s clothing, kids’ and babies’ clothing, school uniforms, workwear, sportswear). In terms of market players, it includes retailers (department stores, mass merchandiser, specialty stores, non-store retailers, etc.), wholesalers (textile wholesaler, product wholesaler), apparel makers, trading firms (domestic and international), and other businesses (retailers of beddings and home accessories, etc.). This press release focuses on a new trend in apparel industry, which is the digital fashion (virtual clothing for avatars in the metaverse, etc.).

<Products and Services in the Market>

Men's clothing/accessories (men’s clothing, underwear, shirts, ties, socks, etc.), women's clothing/ kids’ and babies’ clothing/accessories (women’s clothing, kids’ and babies’ clothing, underwear, blouses, socks, etc.), other clothing (sportswear, work uniforms, kimono, drapery, beddings, interior fabrics, kimono accessories, etc.), other fashion accessories (shoes, footwear, Japanese/Western umbrellas, bags, suitcases, purses/handbags, sewing supplies, jewelries [excluding precious stones/precious metals])

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