Naomi Watanabe, a famous female comedian, has started a fashion brand for plus-sized girls named “PUNYUS”. PUNYUS has been in the spotlight since the brand launched this spring, because it is part of a new trend to focus on chubby girls, and also it is remarkable for a comedian to produce a fashion brand compared to the many slender fashion models that have their own brands.
Disclaimer: The contents of this article are intended to inform about a recent trend in Japan and are not meant to offend our readers. Currently, the rate of obesity in Japan is estimated to be 3.2% and the BMI of women in Japan has been on a steady decline. Because of these factors, what is considered “overweight” and “obese” may be different compared to other countries.
Watanabe made her mark on the entertainment industry with her Beyoncé impression a few years ago, and is a regular guest on many TV shows. If you are into Japanese comedy, you might have seen the scenes where she is dancing dynamically. (It is very funny, so please check it out!)
One fashion magazine was of particular influence to her when producing the brand for chubby girls–“la farfa,” a new lifestyle and fashion magazine that deals with fashion items bigger than a Japanese L size. Naomi Watanabe has been appointed as cover model since the magazine started. So far, it has been said that Japanese girls are obsessed with dieting and are too skinny, which is thought to cause growth disorders among those who start dieting while their bodies are still developing.
Every fashion magazine for young girls have articles packed with tips for losing weight, and it is quite common for these magazines to contain lots of advertisements for diet items. However, “la farfa” shows a new culture style where chubby girls enjoy fashion in that scene, breaking free from the convention that chubby girls cannot enjoy fashion because of their figures and “chubby girls cannot be kawaii”.
Since ‘la farfa” has started, it seems that a chubby girls (known as “pocchari” in Japanese) boom has begun in Japan, and media coverage of pocchari girls has increased. Avex, a famous Japanese record company, held auditions for a pocchari idol group (which debuted as “chubbiness”). It was impressive that a major girls’ fashion magazine “CanCam” featured “pocchari” as kawaii! Because of this, the demand for pocchari fashion has increased, leading to the birth of “PUNYUS”!
PUNYUS designs are influenced by: ’60s & ’90s, hip-hop and Harajuku street style.
Until recently, it was said that large-size clothes are plain, frumpy, and unfashionable, but PUNYUS aims to change these beliefs by producing clothes with colorful and flashy prints. With the opening of a PUNYUS shop in fashion battleground and gyaru mecca, Shibuya 109, the movement continues to challenge norms and attract new converts. In addition to their plus-sized options, PUNYUS also has smaller sizes available, so no one is excluded from being fashionable.
I think pocchari culture is an example of how the fashion industry within Japan has become more diversified. This movement aims to make girls able to enjoy fashion no matter what their body type may be. I think it’s refreshing that fashion is no longer a thing restricted to those with model-like proportions. In fact, PUNYUS’s plus-sized jeans are selling like hotcakes. However, I wonder if this might lead to more girls gaining weight since they might think, “There’s no need to lose weight, because there are many kawaii clothes for big girls too!”