Haute couture brands recently have been in the headlines for promoting an unhealthy body image, mourning the loss of one of fashion's brightest stars and, in general, dealing with a full-blown identity crisis. Meanwhile, an increasing number of mainstream brands have turned their attention explicitly to the end consumer: she now plays a central role in how we view and buy fashion. This reinvention and democratization of fashion has its origin in the mainstream, unlike most trends, which work their way in from the fringe. Moreover, it's a global phenomenon with brands from Japan to Germany embracing the everyday woman's new role.
Historically, in a simpler time before the jet age, Japan was geographically isolated, surrounded by treacherous seas and formidable fault lines. Mountains cover three-quarters of Japan. Earthquakes and challenging terrain are constant reminders of nature’s strength and have contributed to the importance Japanese people place on having a dependable, manageable social system. Japanese people value the group over the individual, and the society consequently possesses an enviable system of organization and an ethos that gave rise to innovative brands and services. The branding world has taken notice.