Abstract: Awareness and Penetration of European Luxury Goods in Japan, Especially in the Context of Postwar Mass Consumption

Tomoko Okawa


This paper examines the relationship between French luxury fashion and the Japanese over the sixty-year postwar period, following three symbolic stages and players. The first stage began with haute couture, and was an era of licensed businesses. The second began in the 1970s and continued through the bubble economy, and was a time of prosperity for the import business. There were two aspects to the third stage: pricing and product line-up. Disparities in domestic and overseas prices of luxury products were addressed after the bubble economy collapsed, and the opening of megastores under luxury brands' global strategies created a sense of newness. Brand products of good quality with reassuring warranties became accepted as reasonable purchases. The Japanese preference for luxury brands may appear simplistic, but their choices of products were rational for prospering Japanese living under a host of restrictions at the time. And in each period, there was a player who contributed to promote this consumption.