It seems like only yesterday that we were following the progress of the Japanese government’s energy saving Cool Biz initiative. As you’ll recall, this past summer saw Tokyo’s iconic Salarymen agonizing over the prospects of casual dress as thermostats in office buildings around the country were set to 82 degrees (F). Government sponsored fashion shows were no help. Instead, the Salarymen chose to grin and sweat it out.
Seasons change, and as autumn arrives those casual, tie-less summer days are but a distant unpleasant memory for the Japan’s Salarymen. Now they have Warm Biz to contend with.
As you might expect, Warm Biz is the winter counterpart to Cool Biz. The new program mandates that office building set the thermostat to 68 degrees (F). The irony here is that the name of these programs should probably be reversed. Cool Biz actually made workers warmer, and Warm Biz will actually make workers cooler.
While the overall goal of these programs is to conserve energy and reduce Co2 emissions, a desirable side-effect has been to boost clothing sales as office-workers around the country modify their wardrobe to accommodate the more extreme temperatures in their working environment.
Japanese retailers are expecting Warm Biz to produce a 10% increase in winter clothing. While Cool Biz prompted a moderate increase in spending on new wardrobes, the numbers weren’t as high as initially anticipated as there were some negatives — for example, men bought fewer neckties.
While the Japanese government took a clear lead in suggesting how the country’s notoriously conservative Salarymen should dress during the Cool Biz campaign, they aren’t providing nearly as many fashion clues for the winter months:
There are various combinations of dress that we envision, but thermal underwear is definitely going to be crucial,” an official at the Environment Ministry said.
It’s unlikely that we’ll witness any government sponsored fashion shows with various department ministers modeling thermal underwear — or microwaveable fur bras for that matter.
While Cool Biz fashions were targeted towards men, the early indication is that Warm Biz will be more about women’s fashion. The first real Warm Biz specific apparel made it’s debut in Tokyo last week as Triumph unveiled the new Warm Biz Bra. The fur lined brassier with microwavable inserts and a long fur tail looks like something from a lost episode of Tenchi Muyo. We’re told that the tail also doubles as a scarf. Perhaps even more strange, the bra features a couple of faux jalapeno peppers mounted on the front.
Clearly, Warm Biz will be quite a bit more interesting than Cool Biz.
Some highlights of the Cool Biz initiative:
- Saved enough energy to power 720,000 homes.
- ¥71 billion increase in clothing sales during the summer months.
- Prime Minister Koizumi was named the “best dressed Cool Biz politician”. An award that undoubtedly lead to his trouncing of the opposition in September’s special election.
Read more about Warm Biz: