Society and Identity
Taiwanese fashion has an undeniable Japanese influence in the past and today. The notion of urban culture of fashion (rather than clothing) entered Taiwan with the Japanese colonisers. For example, as illustrated in documentary film Viva Tonal, the 1920s urban Japanese youth trend of mobo and moga (abbreviation for “modern boys” and “modern girls”) styles reflecting self-confidence and autonomy was also enjoyed in Taiwanese cities. Although Japanese colonisation ended in 1945, Japanese designs were still used by in-house tailors. Furthermore, as the Taiwanese gained financial strength, Japanese fashion magazines, available in Taiwan, introduced the latest Japanese trends directly to consumers. Due to the cultural similarities between Taiwan and Japan, many preferred Japanese rather than Western designs. Today in the 21st century, three out of the five major fashion styles of Taiwan originate in Japan. Uniqlo, the largest Japanese fashion brand, operates around 2000 stores internationally; however, the brand is largely pan-Asian as the vast majority stores, 94%, are in Asia. Uniqlo’s business philosophy of simple design products of high quality at reasonable prices might be foreign to many European consumers as European counterparts such as Zara and H&M offer fast cycle fashion items that may not guarantee quality. However, this does not explain why Uniqlo is strong in Asia. Focusing on Taiwan, which is the significantly Japan influenced place in fashion, this newly conducted interview analysis will illustrate how and why Taiwanese consumers, retailers, and fashion designers relate with Uniqlo.