Romance and ramen in Spanish brand Zara’s crazy Japanese t-shirts that read like remixed Engrish

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Walking around Japan, it can seem like every other T-shirt in sight is plastered with English that looks like it was concocted by a tipsy translator. China isn’t immune to these linguistic missteps either, as travelers who’ve run into some of the country’s less-than-clear English signage know.

But this isn’t a phenomenon that only runs from west to east. Recently Twitter users in Japan have found themselves on the opposite end of the situation, snickering at head-scratching Japanese text showing up on clothing from Spanish apparel company Zara.

Founded in 1974, Zara’s path to success has been providing fashion that, while not necessarily the cheapest option, is still within the price range of fashion-conscious working professionals. Chic and stylish, most of their clothing has a mature, sophisticated look to it.

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Still, Zara’s designers figure there’s room for a little playfulness in their customers’ wardrobes. To that end, they whipped up some designs for lighthearted prints sprinkled with Japanese text.

Granted umami, the word written in Japanese, is a noun, so the translation should really be “deliciousness” instead of “delicious.” But still, we can get what they were going for here, with a mental image that’s supposed to go from “food” to “Japan” to “miso soup” to “I miso you.” It’s a nice try, even if the pun is so bad it’s making Japanese Twitter user Monharpo cry.

We’re not sure what station the culinary train of thought is headed to on this one, though.

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Yup, that sure is ramen. Well, actually it’s four pieces of yarn made to look like the popular noodles, but still, the shirt says “ramen” in Japanese.

▼ On the plus side, this is way less likely to result in hard-to-remove oil stains than when you get real ramen on your shirt,

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Sort of like with the miso soup tee, one of these two shirts, found at a Zara branch in India, has a logical basis. Even with a decorative splotch/red sun blocking the second “A,” that’s clearly supposed to be Japan written on the white shirt, with Japanese text meaning the same directly below it.

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What’s a little more confusing is why the red shirt has the Japanese katakana characters for “France” on it.

Stylish as the script may look, maybe you want something that feels a bit more personal than the nation-wide scope represented by the shirts above. In that case, there’s this option that also sports a couple of Japanese-style kaomoji emoticons.

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Written large across the shoulder blades is the exclamation “A wonderful story!” This is followed by “Love letter = first love” on the lower back. For good measure, you’ll find “romance” on the front, just to make sure that whether you’re coming or going, everyone knows you’re in the mood for love.

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Finally, right now in the Czech Republic, Zara has this design in stock.

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Splashed across the top is kawaii, or “cute,” one of the more recent Japanese vocabulary words to start diffusing into the non-Japanese-speaking world. This overachieving shirt isn’t done yet, though, as it’s still got two more languages it can’t wait to try out.

Next up is the English command COME WITH US, which honestly seems more kowai(“scary”) than kawaii. However, almost as though it realized it was too harsh, the shirt next offers us a friendly “Thank you,” in Italian.

Okay, time for the big finish. What are you going to go out on, crazy multilingual Zara shirt?

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Yuyake. Or, in English, “sunset.”

Silly as they may be, Japanese Twitter users don’t seem too bent out of shape over the odd use of their language. “I guess this is what it’d be like if you translated the English on the shirts people in Japan wear,” mused one, who said he could actually see himself wearing one of Zara’s creations for kicks. And hey, you could make a valid argument that seeing a foreign language as cool, even if you don’t understand it, is preferable to being unreceptive to anything from a culture other than your own.


Chinese street showcases fake brands


From Starbucks to “SFCCCKS,” Hugo Boss to “Hugo Bgss,” and Zara to “Zare,” these famous brands seem to have blatantly morphed into their counterfeit counterparts on this street in China.


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Merchants leasing these ground-floor store spaces of the Shimao Skyscraper, in China’s Jiangsu Province, have taken faux merchandise to a level so flagrant that the differences in the logos are simply mismatched spellings. However, their colors, forms and designs all seem to be exact copies of the originals.


Chinese Street Showcases Fake Brands picture


In a seemingly paradoxical statement, owners of these stores claim that attracting investors is their key target for running their businesses.

But such a façade of counterfeiting has drawn the ire of many critics, who refer to such acts as blatant infringement of copyright laws.


Chinese Street Showcases Fake Brands picture


As for the number of investors they hope for, time will tell whether or not their strategies lead to results. Oh well, but we all hope that their coffee doesn’t SFCCCKS!


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Chinese street showcases fake brands


A Japanese clothing store’s misadventure in Bangladesh: The importance of marketing research

RocketNews 24:

Clothing stores which quickly and cheaply offer fashions based on the latest trends such as H&M and Zara have been enjoying a high level of popularity, especially in the last decade. Shops following this model known as “fast fashion” can also be found in Japan with its largest by far being Uniqlo.

Recently we ran an article speculating why Japanese companies are slow to take risks, but that’s not always the case. In the highly competitive and globalized world of fast fashion sometimes you have to make big moves. That’s just what Uniqlo did, and they moved right into Bangladesh, which has been deemed a “least developed country” by the UN.

 Welcome to Bangladesh
While Bangladesh is considered a least developed country, it is also seen as a fast growing economy and was chosen as one of the “Next Eleven” countries to become a major economy this century by Goldman Sachs. Add to this the massive Bangladeshi population (8th largest in the world) and you have a potentially lucrative market.

So while their competitors are busy wooing the padded wallets of developed nations, Uniqlo ventured into the uncharted consumer base of this small but crowded South Asian country.

 Setting up shop

Uniqlo partnered up with Nobel Peace Prize recipient Garmeen Bank and sent a team of Japanese representatives to work closely with the Bangladeshi management and employees to ensure the Uniqlo experience was maintained in this distant branch. Six months of market research was conducted to select the right merchandise to offer the locals. The shop’s line of outfits drew a very positive response from respondents who liked what they saw.

Everything was looking good. Uniqlo founder, president and richest man in Japan, Tadashi Yanai, must have been optimistic with the envisioned slogan of “From Dhaka to New York” pronouncing the vast reach of his clothing retailer.

As the first Uniqlo shop was set to open its doors in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka, 200 people lined up in front of the store. Everything was looking good for a successful penetration of the market, and a second store was already in the works.

However, according to Kigyo Insider not too long after, sales fell into a slump. No one was buying anything and the company was starting to worry. The market research that had taken over half a year revealed that Bangladeshi women liked the look of Uniqlo’s goods, so why weren’t they buying.

The answer, they learned, could have been assumed from a simple Google Image search of “Bangladeshi women.”

As you can probably gather from the images, women in Bangladesh pretty much only wear saris, a traditional Indian garment sorely lacking from Uniqlo’s repertoire. While they appreciated the look of the clothes, it just wasn’t something the women were actually going to wear. Follow-up research from the company revealed that sure enough, only 10 percent of women surveyed wore casual western style clothes – a substantial decrease from their initially assumed customer-base.

 Damage Control
With new revelation at hand, Uniqlo President Yanai sternly ordered that Uniqlo start producing some saris as soon as possible. Meanwhile the Bangladeshi branches would sell saris and other regional clothing that were produced by other shops. Once the proper designs were made and production was underway, then Uniqlo could offer their own line of outfits more suited to the tastes of those around.

From the internet, criticism arose over the incident saying it was “pretty sloppy marketing by Uniqlo” and it was like “selling hair tonic to a Buddhist monk.” That last comment in particular describes the situation best. Much like the old salesman compliment of “could sell an icebox to an igloo” this could either be a complete flop or the greatest achievement of the company.

 One Win Nine Losses
Although, Mr. Yanai is probably not happy with the current state of affairs, he’s never been one to cry over spilt milk. He’s been vocal about past mistakes chalking them up to learning experiences as can be read in his book One Win Nine Losses.

This expansion is far from over with two more stores scheduled to open in Dhaka . Even if this endeavor goes belly-up, it probably won’t be too much skin off Uniqlo’s back end. As a developing country, labor in Bangladesh is cheap and the country already has a massive amount of clothing production facilities in place. Considering these factors, there probably isn’t as much money on the line compared to other launches.

Uniqlo probably has a lot to gain and comparatively little to lose in this risk. If they succeed we may someday say great salespeople “could sell a Mickey Mouse Milkman shirt to a Bangladeshi.”

 Uniqlo is getting some heavy support from Nobel Peace Prize winner and founder of Grameen Bank, Muhammad Yunus for their support in charitable works in Bangladesh.

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A Japanese clothing store’s misadventure in Bangladesh: The importance of marketing research