One of the most common questions I’ve gotten about living in Japan is about how difficult it is to find Plus Size Clothes there. Here is my experience with plus size shopping in Japan.
I am a size UK 14 – 16 (US 10 -12), 154cm tall (5″1) and shoe size EU 40/41, Japan 25.0-25.5/LL (though I barely fit most of their shoes as I have very wide feet). My main problem areas are chest (~40 inches), thighs and waist because most stores seem to not take into account that women have chests and butts….!? Unfortunately this guide will mainly be for women of similar size to me, but some of the places listed below do stock much larger sizes as well!
There are two main options – retail stores and online, of which the latter has been my main source, but in the recent years there are more options for plus size women in Japan.
PLUS SIZE CLOTHES AT RETAIL STORES
Are not as completely impossible to find, but it will get very frustrating after you exhaust store after store of clothes that will never fit you.
Of course large Western clothing lines (H&M, F21, Stradivarius, ZARA etc) are the bulk of my retail shopping as I know they stock sizes, however, most of their clothes stop at UK 14 sizes (or at 40, sometimes 42) and even then some don’t fit me. I’ve gotten almost all of my winter coats and sweaters from H&M and F21, though their largest sizes are a bit of a tight fit, especially since you’ll be wearing lots of layers underneath! Their off/end of season sales are AMAZING, especially H&M in Japan – clothes I’ve bought for 200yen there I’ve found back in Singapore retailing at $20 (2400yen).
Japanese brands such as WEGO and SPINNS cater to youth fashion and do carry oversized large jackets, clothing and have skirts with elastic bands that can fit up to UK 14. Their skirts tend to be very short (as most skirts in Japan are) so someone taller than me might not be comfortable exposing that much leg. Their style is rather hip-hop, street fashion, so if you want something sweeter and more demure you can try Honeys but their LL sizes fit up to UK 12 to small UK 14, though most are best fit for UK 10 – 12 max.
This purple denim jacket is my favorite buy in Harajuku, and while I’ve forgotten the shop name, it’s basically a used oversized denim jacket that has been dyed. The store I went to had done this in many other colours, and in a whole range of sizes from S to XXL. Mine is specifically a Georges Marciano for Guess jacket tagged M that was dyed purple. And I love it. I can’t actually button it up all the way to the top, but I prefer it worn open anyway. I spotted similar both in WEGO and SPINNS, and they also have lots of oversized bomber jackets and sweaters.
I’ve also managed to buy clothes from some nondescript stores in Harajuku, though Takeshita Street changes every few months or so with large chain stores replacing the smaller quirky ones I loved back in 2012, so something you saw your last trip may not even exist there anymore.
UNIQLO and GU (aka the younger, more hip cousin to Uniqlo) stock sizes up to XL which fit a UK 12 to UK 14 for women (sometimes till UK16 for t-shirts), but don’t forget about the MEN’S SECTION. I get jackets and graphic t-shirts from there since the cut is bigger, roomier and also very comfy. Especially during the sales when pullover hoodies go for 1,500yen! I also wear Uniqlo’s XL size heat tech, which is a life saver during the cold seasons.
Japan recently launched plus size fashion magazine la farfa in April 2015, and more plus size tie ups as well as a plus size line PUNYUS was also launched. PUNYUS has a few retail stores, one notably in Shibuya 109 and stocks clothes up to 3 and 4L size. Their online store also ships internationally via tenso. I’ve never personally bought from them because their clothes, averaging upwards of 4000yen, have always been a bit too expensive for my budget.
Another Japanese line with an online store is Plumprino, the plus size brand under Yumetembo. Which while I haven’t personally purchased from, has mixed reviews and the sizes seem to fit up to a (smaller) UK16 or 3L size. They do have physical stores, but I never personally entered to check if Plumprino was stocked on the shelves. Their clothes are sweet, with frills and most notably popular among lolita fashion enthusiasts.
Other retail stores to try your luck at are Thrift Stores such as THANK YOU MART, JUMBLE STORE and MODE OFF/BOOK OFF HOME/PLUS. Japan has loads of thrift stores so if you’re keen on browsing through the racks then you’ll be able to find something!
Shimamura is known for having cheap and fashionable clothing and also has a plus size section! Somehow I never actually went and shopped at a store before, so I’ll definitely have to look for one when I’m next in Japan.
Don Quijote stores in Japan not only sell food, cosmetics, electronics (almost everything really) but they also have a clothing section! I’ve scored ridiculously cheap shoes there at 100yen a pair and they sell Halloween outfits, t-shirts, jackets, loungewear, kigurumi and even lingerie. Give them a try if you want something cheap, but don’t expect to find cocktail dresses there.
PLUS SIZE SHOPPING ONLINE
I have purchased online from Belluna.jp which has a category for large size clothes, back in 2012. Then I bought some winter coats and items which were a bit of a hit and miss. They were a bit smaller than I’d hoped (even at the largest size) and the quality wasn’t great. The only plus is that they were relatively cheap. A quick search for 大きいサイズ (ookii saizu – large sizes) pulls up a list of Japanese websites that sell plus size clothes but their definition of large sizes usually aren’t very big at all so I got pretty frustrated quickly.
Another Japanese brand I shop from both online and at their retail store is Bodyline. It’s basically a store for cheap lolita and cosplay clothing and sizes go up to 4L. Their quality is decent and while I have never purchased a JSK/OP etc from them, it is my go-to store for Halloween outfits. I’ve also bought a pair of black and white Creepers from them. I’ve ended up using the skirt from the seifuku (school uniform) set as a regular skirt so with simple pieces like that they could just fit into your regular wardrobe.
The best option is to purchase from online retailers that ship internationally. My favourite for many years has been UK based asos that ship internationally free if you spend £20. They have a plus size category, Curve (UK 18 and up), and while it takes 2 to 3 weeks for your items to arrive, the items can be worth the wait. However, as with all online retailers there have been mixed reviews, including my own bad experience with them, but generally my experience has been positive.
Similarly, online stores such as F21 Plus and other plus size online stores that ship internationally would be a great choice, as long as you are willing to wait. I frequent tee-a-day sites for my fandom fixes, and it’s really all about being willing to source for items, scroll through and check measurements.
But the down side of online shopping is having items arrive and not fitting into them or the clothes end up being unflattering. This has happened too many times to count, especially when there are no specific measurements and the dress ends up being too tight at the chest or a different shade of colour. Ideally there would be more retail options but not just yet.
TIPS FOR ANYONE COMING TO JAPAN
If you’re going to be staying in Japan semi long term, bring along your basics, essentials and favourite pieces of clothing from home. I brought my jeans, favourite dresses and shoes along. Especially shoes, because having wide feet made it very difficult to find anything in the largest Japanese size that fit. When I did find something, the soles got worn out terribly fast and then I had to search all over again.
If you are larger than a UK 16, you might have a harder time than I did finding clothes, so be prepared to have to rely more on online shopping or your clothes from home instead of retail stores. I developed a phobia of sorts of shopping in retail stores because I believed nothing would ever fit me, and I would get frustrated and angry quickly.
Be patient and you will find clothes! I know friends larger than I am who have bought clothes from stores in Japan.
Additionally, some people may have asked Japanese friends regarding large sized clothing and gotten scared at a “Oh no you are too fat to find clothes” response, pfft. If you are under UK 14 size, you should have no problems finding clothes in Japan. Most free-size clothes will most likely best fit a UK 8 – 10, up to a smaller UK 12. However, most clothing lines cater to the petite Asian frame so if you have wide shoulders, hips or a large chest, it may be more difficult. So if you’re smaller than me, even if it’s difficult to find clothes due to problem areas, there’s no excuse for having breakdowns or saying you can’t find anything because there generally is a much larger pool of options for you as compared to someone larger.
I’m big and I still managed to find clothes so you can too.
I hope this post helps address any concerns about buying plus size clothes in Japan! Do leave a comment if you know any stores I’ve left out!
I leave you with an amazing piece of advice from Queen Ru, “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else?”