Skirts are the surprising fashion trend in Tokyo this spring - all the more so because it is men who are wearing them.
Men wearing what is traditionally regarded as women's attire - ranging from miniskirts worn over jeans to longer, figure-hugging varieties worn with trainers or sandals - have become a regular sight in the Harajuku district of Tokyo, long regarded as being on the leading edge of Japanese fashion.
Japanese designer brand Comme des Garcons has had mild success with its range of skirts for men, as has Vivienne Westwood, although the choice is limited and the items are pricey for the average man who might be tempted to buy a skirt.
"We are finding that the majority of our customers are young men, in their 20s, who want to stand out," Naohiro Yamamoto, who works for venture clothing firm Zooee Corp., told Relaxnews.
"These are the sort of people who are bored with existing fashions, are desperate for a new 'look' and realize that they can be fashionable in a skirt," he said.
Zooee opened an online clothing shop - called Cross Gender - in February and Yamamoto says the company has been "very surprised" at the demand.
He declined to give a sales figure since the online store began dispatching orders, but confirmed that the venture was already reporting a profit.
Skirts designed for men range in price from Y4,980 (€39.85) to Y12,000 (€96) and many have been designed by Yamamoto, who is a keen skirt-wearer himself.
"I have eight skirts and I like to wear them on weekends and holidays," he said. "The first reactions from friends was that they actually looked much better than they had thought.
"There is this image that men who want to wear skirts must be into 'costume-play' - dressing up like characters from animated films or television shows - or that they want to be a woman, but then they see my fashion sense and have a better image of skirts," he said.
Zooee Corp. is planning to expand its range and offer men's skirts overseas, through its internet site in the near future.
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