Japan Research Trip – Collated Research: International Magazines

Whilst in Tokyo, I picked up the latest Japanese editions of both Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue, which in relation to National Japanese magazines is a huge contrast in regard to content, design, models and editorial decisions. Unlike the National magazines which feature around 90% Japanese models, these magazines noted below, feature around 90% Western models. From my research to date, and from speaking with Vogue in Japan, this is due to the nature of the publications being of an International nature, and thereby need to maintain this in order to keep in line with, and maintain the ‘Vogue’ or ‘Harpers’ Bazaar’ title and standard. This is also why headlines are noted in English writing, allowing for International readers, such as myself, being able to understand what each article/spread is about, even if one can not read the full body of text. Product/brand names are also noted in English AND Japanese throughout, again in order to relate to a mass, international audience, allowing for consumers to purchase, or look up products/garments of interest for example.

Both of these magazines, also now have digital editions which can be downloaded via the Apple Store, or their relevant websites. This is advertised and noted on the cover of each magazine, as shown below.

In comparison to the Local and National Japanese Fashion and Beauty magazines, the aesthetic design decisions are stripped back in comparison, whilst still being much more daring, and playful in design than the UK editions. Whilst talking with Vogue, this was raised and questioned, and is due to Japanese women wanting to be youthful and playful, whilst falling in line with the ‘cute’ or ‘Kawaii’ themes which are popular in Japan across editorial design, beauty products and garments, allowing for a visual relationship to be built with the reader. It was important to understand this in relation to self-perception issues in order to understand how magazines can affect perceptions within Japanese women, and likewise the perceptions of others in regard to external and visual influences.

A range of Western models, all of which have fairly light skin, have been used throughout the magazine alongside Japanese models whom look fairly Western also in regards to skin-tone and eye shape, portraying the known ‘ideal’ in Japan, whilst enforcing a major Western influence.

It can also be seen that celebrities and icons featured are Western, opposed to being National Japanese icons, and again this falls in line with the idea of maintaining the ‘International’ title of both magazines and what they stand for – affluent, inspirational, well-know and established high-end Fashion/Beauty trends. When I asked Vogue about this, and its reasoning, it was established that Japanese icons wouldn’t be as well received or recognised by an International audience, and by using Western icons and models, differentiates them from the National and International magazines which are seen across many magazines on the shelves in Japan.

This is also working toward the following objective:

1. To understand the ways in which Social Media and Magazines can affect self-perceptions and issues:

A) With body image (Females, 18-24)

B) With body image on a cross-cultural scale (Females, 18-24; Tokyo, Japan).

2. To understand policies and guidelines within the Fashion and Beauty Industries currently encouraging positive body image.

4. To prototype a range of design work targeted at 18-24 year old women, highlighting impacts of cross-cultural beauty/fashion trends on self-perceptions and body image.

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Japan Research Trip – Collated Research: Shiseido

Below shows a range of primary research which has been collated from my research trip to Tokyo, Japan.

The Shiseido Magazine was brought to my attention whilst talking with Toni Hollowood, and was unable to source one at Shiseido stockists in the UK. Whilst at the Shiseido Ginza store, I was able to pick one up.

I was taken back with their magazine, for a cosmetics company, the magazine is beautifully designed with great editorial content and photography. I was particularly interested in the content choices and have made several notes below.

This is also working toward the following objectives:

1. To understand the ways in which Social Media and Magazines can affect self-perceptions and issues:

A) With body image (Females, 18-24)

B) With body image on a cross-cultural scale (Females, 18-24; Tokyo, Japan).

4. To prototype a range of design work targeted at 18-24 year old women, highlighting impacts of cross-cultural beauty/fashion trends on self-perceptions and body image.

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Above: In certain articles, Japanese models are used, and I did notice that they have very light skin, representing the vast range of skin-lightening products which the brand has to offer.

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Above: I noticed on the editorial above however, that even though shot in Tokyo, and features Japanese men, the female model is Western. I found this an interesting contrast in relation to the other spreads, especially due to having a Tokyo based theme for this specific editorial. However, I find the chosen model interesting due to hair and skin colour, not being common with Japanese females.

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Above: I found the above spreads interesting in regards to design, and aesthetic choices, being typically ‘Japanese’. These are very inspiring for my practical project.

Furthermore, including a cat in the photoshoot I also found fascinating due to this often being seen promoting Japanese products such as Canmake and Paul and Joe, as seen in a following blog post. This ties in with the Kawaii, or ‘cute’ theme which is often seen in Japan adding a further youthful tone of voice and context. I found from previous research, reading academic journals and visual research, whilst being reaffirmed in interviews in Japan with Nicole (beauty blogger), and Vogue, that Japanese women’s primary focus with their beauty regimes is about looking ‘young’ with ‘baby-esk’ skin.

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Above: The left hand side page shows an exhibition advert. The exhibition was held at the Shiseido Gallery which I visited in Ginza. The concept relayed around rays of ‘light’. The right hand side page looks at various new products, comparing prices and ‘end results’, including a range of skin-lightening seems.

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Above: Above shows a double sided leaflet taken from the Shiseido store, looking at a new cushion-based foundation. I found this interesting due to using again, very young models, whilst on the reverse shows a step-by-step guide of recreating each of the models looks. From my research to date, as seen in many of the National Japanese magazines, women purchasing products want to know exactly how to apply such products and what the benefits are. This can also be seen on the right, whereby each product shows swatches of other shades available, clearly noting to the end-user what is on offer, what it does and how much this will set them back in regards to Japanese Yen.

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Above: Two postcards which I bought in the Shiseido store. I purchased these due to heavily reflecting the self-surveying gaze theory as discussed in previous posts, both in relation to theoretical perspectives, but also in regard to Shiseido advertising campaigns which in the 1950s utilised this marketing strategy. This is something which has been discussed and analysed in depth on a previous blog post, whilst also appearing in my dissertation along with the image above to add context.

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Above: Above shows a vast range of products on offer which can help lighten ones skin and prevent ageing. The amount of products on offer in comparison to the 4 products found in a stockist in the UK was overwhelming, but shows how important this ‘trend’ or ‘culture’ is to Japanese women.

In addition, the Shiseido Makeup Mirror was also found and played with, which after analysing and discussing heavily last semester in regard to new technologies within my field of practice was amazing to see and use. The mirror was also discussed in my first Professional Context presentation – this was the first augmented reality mirror to be designed and created by a cosmetics brand, and has since, similar versions have been designed and are being used by brands such as L’Oreal in both Japan and China. The mirror is an interesting idea, as it shows you how you look with different products, whilst the computer attached shares in-depth product information so the end-user is aware of what they are buying. I personally, did not see any Japanese women try any products on in store – everything was done via the Shiseido Mirror, reaffirming the stigmatism and ’embarrassment’ of trying on a range of products in store. This was also discussed last semester in relation to these new technologies.

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Japan Research Trip – Mind-map of Collated Research

I have compiled a mind-map in order to collate my findings from my research trip to Tokyo, Japan. From this I plan on creating further mind maps and blog posts relating to each point noted below.

This is also working toward the following objective:

1. To understand the ways in which Social Media and Magazines can affect self-perceptions and issues:

A) With body image (Females, 18-24)

B) With body image on a cross-cultural scale (Females, 18-24; Tokyo, Japan).

2. To understand policies and guidelines within the Fashion and Beauty Industries currently encouraging positive body image.

3. To work with and interview those both actively working in the Fashion and Beauty Industries, and those on a consumer/follower/user basis, to compare behaviours and perspectives in relation to body image and self-perceptions.

4. To prototype a range of design work targeted at 18-24 year old women, highlighting impacts of cross-cultural beauty/fashion trends on self-perceptions and body image.

 

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Semester 2: Objectives, Goals and POA

The below objectives and goals have been carried over from Semester 1, and will remain the same objectives which I am going to work towards throughout Semester 2.

Due to the types of research I plan on carrying out this semester, I believe that Objective 4 will change in regards to practical work, as I feel my research will inform this, and therefore have removed any specifics to allow for a clean slate to build from post-research and analysis of all work, and research to date. After looking quite broadly last semester, by narrowing and deepening my research this semester, I hope to have a very refined and direct final outcome which is relevant and in response to my research topic.

I also aim to work on Objective 5 post-research and post-interviews/meetings with Industry Professionals in both the UK and in Japan, to assess it’s viability before being produced/designed.

I have noted below each objective/goal research methodologies which will allow for these to be achieved.

Objectives and goals:

  1. To understand the ways in which Social Media and Magazines can affect self-perceptions and issues:

A) With body image (Females, 18-24)

B) With body image on a cross-cultural scale (Females, 18-24; Tokyo, Japan).

Questionnaire allowing for 18-24 year olds to complete the survey online, regardless of location (UK/Japan). I found this to be a good way of collating quantifiable data and analysing it, after finding it hard to connect with Japanese students in Japan (lack of contact information) and having little response back from HE Institutions in the UK. By having the questionnaire online also, it is possible to gain the trust of participants whilst also gaining a larger range of responses from a larger range of people, which may of been restricted via targeting Universities, for example.

I plan to keep this open to both males and females to gain different perspectives and comparative results, taking into account feedback from Semester. In addition to this, I plan on using my time in Japan (16th-23rd January 2017) to speak with Beauty Bloggers and Vogue, in order to understand this on a cross-cultural scale.

I plan on speaking with various other professionals to gain different perspectives, i.e. models and bodybuilders, whilst also speaking with like-minded creative practitioner, Toni Hollowood from CSM about her MA, similar research and practice.

  1. To understand policies and guidelines within the Fashion and Beauty Industries currently encouraging positive body image.

I plan on speaking with ASOS to understand an Industry perspective on this topic, in relation to their Model Welfare Policy and Corporate/Social Responsibilities.  

I plan on speaking with Vogue in Japan, and hopefully in the UK also regarding other positive strategies which are promoted/used throughout their publications and digital content.

  1.  To work with and interview those both actively working in the Fashion and Beauty Industries, and those on a consumer/follower/user basis, to compare behaviours and perspectives in relation to body image and self-perceptions.

See actions for Objective/Goal 1.

I also plan on speaking with professional international and national models, whilst speaking with beauty and/or fashion bloggers both in the UK and Japan. I have made contact already with bloggers in Japan ahead of my trip, and will now actively look for bloggers in the UK to contact also for comparable research.

  1. To prototype a range of design work targeted at 18-24 year old women, highlighting impacts of Social Media and Magazines on self-perceptions and body image.

I plan to carry out the main body of research for semester 2 prior to working on my practical work, as I believe that this semester will allow for the cross-cultural side of my research topic to be truly highlighted, and therefore visually used in context. I also feel I need to go to Japan and seek inspirations from their culture, galleries, products, advertising, etc, whilst taking into account research to date and upcoming interviews/meetings.

I do however have ideas which I would like to push and develop, however feel the key aim has to be to highlight the cross-cultural differences between the UK and Japan in relation to my research topic.

  1. To derive a National or International Policy for use within the Fashion and Beauty Industries, based on collated research, interviews and experiences throughout this project.

See actions for Objective/Goal 2.

In addition, I plan on carrying out all research prior to embarking on working soley towards this objective/goal. I have also recently been thinking critically whilst reflecting on the research/practical work done to date, that perhaps this is not the focus of my practice, but an interest which still needs to be explored and research in context. This leads me to note that, perhaps the practical-led work for this outcome should be as stated above, in Objective/Goal 4, opposed to a Policy Proposal. However, this will be discussed and considered further as my research unfolds, meetings are carried out and as interviews take place.

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