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Apparel industry takes on Okinawa Kariyushi wear

Date Posted: 2007-07-05

Former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi popularized Okinawa’s Kariyushi wear three years ago in an effort to spur summer energy conservation while keeping government employees comfortable.

The trend to open-collar shirts has continued under the current prime minister, Shinzo Abe, has spurred the Japanese clothing industry to scramble for a piece of the action. Government offices across the nation are becoming more liberal in permitting employees to shed the traditional coat and tie in favor of the much cooler Okinawa garb, a boon for local manufacturers.

Although some businesses still insist on employees wearing more formal apparel, many are loosening their rules, leading mainland manufacturers to jump into the cool-biz market with new lightweight clothing lines. Suit makers are scrambling to introduce new products made of mesh type fabric weaves, and accessories too.

New underwear is now on the market, including V-neck undershirts that permit open collar sports shirts to be open to the second button. There re even new socks being made with holes built in. The holes are manufactured on the underside of the socks to permit feet to breathe.

The trend to fashionable, comfortable summer clothing is triggering pressure on businesses to further liberalize dress codes. An Okinawa manufacturer has just put a new Kariyushi shirt on shelves, designed to be worn with a necktie. The more formal style shirts may lead to a new fashion statement in more official surroundings, such as ceremonies and in offices insisting on a more conservative dress code.

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