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Fashion: Japanese women in their 60s embrace beauty of their years with expressive looks

A fashion magazine titled "Sutekina ano hito no otona fuku" (Adult clothes for that stylish person)," targeting women in their 60s, is seen in this photo provided by publisher Takarajima Publishing Co.

TOKYO -- More Japanese women in their 60s are choosing to reject pressure to look younger, instead embracing the beauty of their years and choosing looks to express themselves just as they are.

    In December last year, Takarajima Publishing Co. launched a special edition fashion magazine called "Sutekina ano hito no otona fuku" (Adult clothes for that stylish person) featuring clothes and accessories just for the "mature woman" in her 60s. The magazine has sold over 50,000 copies, and a second edition will be released on April 20.

    Takarajima Publishing editor Keiko Kamishita says she planned the magazine to respond to the fashion needs of older women, after hearing from mature ladies that there were no clothes for their age group in the shops, and that magazines with page after page of young models were of no help in putting together a look.

    At 1,200 yen before tax, the 95-page magazine is more expensive than other fashion titles. However, the volume is replete with phrases like "comfortable" and "being natural," paired with outfits with roomy lines and made from comfy materials. It features 62-year-old gray-haired beauty Anna Yuki on the cover, and has plenty of hairstyle suggestions that take advantage of greying locks. In short, it encouraged readers to accept and indeed embrace the changes in their body shapes and hair color that accompany the passing of the years.

    Reader response was good, with some sending reviews including, "I realized that we women in our 60s can enjoy fashion in our own ways," and, "I no longer worry about aging."

    There are now more female sexagenarians and older women who want to wear clothes appropriate for their age, not trying to make themselves look younger. Take Hitomi Sato, a 70-year-old resident of Inzai, Chiba Prefecture. On a recent sunny day in Tokyo, Sato was sporting a black turtleneck with frills on the collar and short sleeves matched to a pair of bleached blue jeans. Her silver-gray hair was cut short, casual but elegant.

    Hitomi Sato is seen in Tokyo's Taito Ward, on March 28, 2018. (Mainichi)

    "I'm not eager to look young. I want to become older naturally, just the way I am," she said.

    In a 2017 survey of 930 men and women in their 40s through 60s conducted by Shin Otona Ken, a research body run by marketing firm Hakuhodo Inc. to investigate and adapt to Japan's aging society, 32.3 percent of respondents said they were happiest when someone said they "looked natural." It was the first year this group overtook those who said they were happiest when someone told them they "looked young," at 27.4 percent, to claim the top spot.

    Shin Otona Ken head Setsuo Sakamoto noted that people now "around 60" were young at a time when Japanese marriage practices were transitioning from "omiai" formal matchmaking to marrying for love. Thus, Sakamoto believes, they tend to be independent as they decided on their own who to marry and how to live their lives.

    Present-day 60-somethings "were the first generation to get women's fashion magazines like 'An-an' (first published in 1970) and 'Non-no' (1971), and they really pushed young people's culture forward," said Sakamoto. "If there are more magazines and products aimed at that generation, there's a real possibility of creating a whole new market."

    (Japanese original by Yashiho Komatsu, Evening Edition Department)

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