June 10, 2005

Mr. Company President is Sexy!

By posted in

As it turns out, the generations that rebuilt Japan into the powerhouse that it is today have been a missed market for fashion retailers. The generation gap just may be in full bloom in Japan, where middle-aged Japanese men ("oyaji") may find themselves soundly dissed:

The oyaji has also been the target of cultural derision. Teenage daughters are known to refuse to have their clothes washed in the same load with their fathers'; some wives refer to their retired husbands as "sodai gomi" — big garbage.

Sounds about normal, according to friends with teenagers, but hardly fair, given that generations are different, and that no generation wants to be forced to conform to another. Poor teen 'tude aside, there's some reasoning here:

"The oyaji of the past grew out of the hardscrabble generations that rebuilt Japan after World War II and powered it into the highest ranks of the world economy. But the 40-somethings of today were in their prime during the heady, free-spending 1980s — and they've held onto some habits."

Sound like a whole segment of consumers who might like to be satisfied? But the fashion world is catching on:

"Mr. Company President is sexy!" gushed an announcer as Toyota Motor's chairman of the board, Hiroshi Okuda, showed off a sharp black suit and pants at a fashion show this week at the 2005 World Fair.

Yep. The Toyota Chairman of the Board. Top that.

To the Japanese oyaji, we say: if you've got it, flaunt it.

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