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Plus-Sized in Japan

Moving to Japan, I knew I was going to run into some issues regarding clothing sizes. My sizes are average in the North American consumer fashion industry, tucked between an 1XL and 2XL. While packing my life to move to the other side of the world, doing some preliminary research it donned on me that I was about to board the fashion struggle bus.

For size references, see the Japanese Plus Size Clothing Chart

Plus-size in North America is WILDLY different from Japan. I sit comfortably on the border of plus size, able to find my sizes in most shops. Not so much in Japan.

The Japanese market caters to sizes that are generally much smaller than their counterparts in my home country, and this makes sense. An industry is going to offer options that will suit the majority of its’ consumers (or desired consumers). And many Japanese women are, in comparison to North Americans, petite and slim. So, the majority of clothing sold is going to be for those who are shorter and (much) smaller than I am.

My first task was converting Japanese clothing sizes to standard U.S. sizes. Taking to the internet, I found a plethora of sizing charts. Problem was, many of them didn’t actually show what my size would be. I was genuinely surprised that in Japan, I’m on the higher end of what even Plus Size clothing stores carry.

In Japan, many trendy boutiques don’t carry anything above a U.S. size 8. 10 if you’re lucky. A lot just carry "F" or "Free Size", that comfortably fit people in the (U.S) size range of 00 to 8.

As I mentioned above, I can usually, fit into a U.S 1 or 2XL, a size 14 to 18 pants or dress (depending on the brand). In Japan, that meant I was a pretty solid 6L. And the majority of shops do not carry 6L. Even the plus-sized brands that have taken off in the past decade only carry up to a 4 or 5L.

For the first few years living in Japan, I was really discouraged. I wanted to enjoy shopping and trying Japanese trends, but the majority of what I found was overwhelmingly “meh”. Oversized, loose and long clothing, not tailored in any way that’s flattering to a plus-sized figure. My personal style quickly went from something I took pride in, to just buying whatever would fit me.

Despite what the media portrays (and what the fashion/diet industry pushes), there are a lot of plus-sized women in Japan. And wherever I went, I would see these fabulous queens in the crowd. I was curious (and so, so envious) of the outfits I’d see out in public. But it wasn’t like I could go up to random people on street and ask them where they shopped.

However, I could absolutely pop into random peoples DMs online to complement their OOTD (and get the scoop on their go-to brands).

And that’s how it started. My love for self-expression through style quickly reignited and I became enchanted with the creativity and confidence of the women representing plus-sized Japan. I was able to slowly start gathering a wardrobe that reflected my personality and made me feel great.

Finding new shops, style tips, trudging through (Japanese) forums, Twitter and Insta has become an enjoyable treasure hunt. Sure, I still can’t go into every store and shop off the rack, but that almost makes every outfit I put together that much more rewarding. I know how much time and effort it took to source each piece, and am able to appreciate the items and brands that are keeping it real for curvy girls.

The goal of this blog is to share brands, shops, fashion & culture tidbits, personal stories and the Japanese curve models that inspired me to live my best life in the land of the rising sun.

Thank you for taking the time to visit, and I hope that you can enjoy your plus-sized Japanese fashion adventure as much as I am!


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