According to The Asahi Shimbun, apparel companies suffering from sluggish clothes sales are using their retail expertise to branch out to house and apartment design, at the same time expanding their reach to the homewares and furniture market.
Taking the new direction is seen as a necessity for the clothing companies to ensure profitability and survival.
According to Yano Research Institute Ltd., the Japanese clothing market has shrunk by nearly 40 percent from its peak in 1991. Thriving online trade of used clothes has also negatively affected their business.
“The housing industry has a strong affinity for the clothing business in many points, such as how to select materials and create a uniform ambiance,” said a spokesperson for Tokyo-based Baycrew's Co., operator of the Journal Standard chain.
Baycrew's new business in the homes market has yielded good results.
Its model apartment in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward boasts a wooden pattern floor, a new sofa that looks like an antique and various imported goods. The exposed concrete ceiling creates a fashionable cafe-like atmosphere.
The apartment was created to promote the home renovation business the firm launched in July, and most furniture pieces on display there are from Baycrew's as well.
The company has already received four orders for the specially designed apartment.
Meanwhile, Daytona International Corp. in Tokyo, operator of Freak's Store, released a newly constructed home designed in the image of “an ordinary house in the United States” in June, as the company’s core product is American-style garments.
“Nearly twice more people than usual have requested information (about the specially designed house), underscoring customers’ high interest in it,” said a publicity official of home design firm Betsudai in Oita, which sells Daytona’s house.
In another example, United Arrows Ltd. in Tokyo adopted floor materials and lighting devices used for its clothing stores to renovate apartments in a select shop-like style. The renovated apartments’ interiors were proposed by the company’s shop design team.
United Arrows plans to unveil a model apartment in late November.
An increasing number of consumers are currently considering refurbishing old houses and apartments, boosting the trend, according to industry sources.
One home renovation company insider said the person’s corporation “has received cooperation proposals from several firms.”
Cooperation between housing and clothing businesses is expected to grow further in the future.
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