Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on June 2010

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Take a stroll around Harajuku or Shibuya these days, and you could be forgiven for thinking you were at a beachside resort rather than the ground zero of Japanese fashion. French-designed urban sophistication is out and natural-casual is in, while bold prints inspired by tropical locales are becoming increasingly popular.

“We call it the ‘Woodstock Syndrome,’” says Satomi Fukumoto of Harajuku-based brand Bless Tokyo. “Women want to look natural and bohemian these days.” The current Bless collection features free-flowing cotton skirts and dresses in off-white organic cotton, accompanied by accessories such as bags woven from natural materials.

In a similar vein, the Mystic brand aims to “strike a balance between sexiness and the natural look with a new approach to casual clothes”—which in practice means loose-fitting silhouettes in natural fabrics with lace and satin accents.

Another brand taking the nature trail is the aptly named N. Natural Beauty Basic, which launched earlier this year with the lofty goal of “awakening the inner beauty of women through an enjoyment of natural items.” The company is encouraging customers to take a more holistic approach to fashion, collaborating with international skincare brand Origins to attach mini bottles of organic cosmetics to the swing tags of garments in its “Love Green” line.

Meanwhile, laidback styles in bold prints that wouldn’t look out of place on a beach in Thailand are now being worn in the inner city, injecting a carefree holiday feel into daily urban life. Brands such as Apuweiser-riche and Ef-de are celebrating the resort look with prints inspired by Balinese batik and wicker basket bags.

Recently launched Soareak features huge straw sun hats and dresses with patterns reminiscent of Nepalese prints. To drive home the holiday atmosphere, its debut fashion show at the most recent installment of Tokyo Girls Collection included models toting travel luggage on the runway and snapping photos with instant cameras.

“Women want to proactively enjoy their everyday lives rather than wait for a vacation,” says Soareak’s Kana Takeshita. “Our brand is about helping women do that by allowing them to express themselves in a frank way.”

ADDRESS BOOK

Apuweiser-riche: 3F Marui Curren, 3-18-1 Shinjuku. Tel: 03-3355-0124. Open daily 11:30am-8:30pm. www.apuweiser-riche.jp

Bless Tokyo (web only): www.blesstokyo.com

Ef-de: 5F Shibuya Tokyu, 2-24-1 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3477-4507. Open daily 10am-9pm. www.ef-de.jp

Mystic: 2F Akita Bldg, 6-12-22 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-5774-8116. Open daily 11am-8pm. www.mystic-web.jp

N. Natural Beauty Basic: 3F Ebisu Atre, 1-5-5 Ebisu-Minami, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-5475-8309. Open daily 10am-9:30pm. http://n.naturalbeautybasic.com

Origins: 2F Isetan Shinjuku, 3-14-1 Shinjuku. Tel: 03-3226-8743. Open daily 10am-8pm. www.origins.co.jp

Soareak: 6-16-13 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-5464-7615. Open daily 11am-8pm. www.soareak.com