Falkirk and North Lanarkshire t-shirts become fashion hits in Japan

By James Delaney, BBC Scotland News


David Clements spotted the Falkirk T-shirt on sale in Oita

T-shirts branded with the names of Scottish councils have become an unlikely fashion hit in Japan.

Local authorities including Falkirk, Clackmannanshire, North Lanarkshire and West Lothian feature in a range launched by Tokyo-based brand Shoo-La-Rue.

Images of the clothing, part of the “Cutie Blonde” collection, have gone viral on social media.

The brand, owned by fashion company World, describes the T-shirts as having a “fun” pattern and recommends wearing them with “voluminous wide pants”.

Freelance football coach David Clements joked he had to do a double take when he spotted one of the T-shirts – on sale from 1,489 yen (£7.20) – in a shopping mall.

Mr Clements, who is originally from Glasgow, has lived between the city and Saiki in the Oita region after meeting wife Nozoki 14 years ago.

SHOO-LA-RUE North Lanarkshire T-shirtSHOO-LA-RUE

North Lanarkshire has become an unlikely fashion slogan for a Tokyo-based brand

He said it was “extremely unusual” to see any influence from the UK in the region, on the island of Kyushu.

Mr Clements told BBC Scotland News: “I have been coming here since 2010 and I have barely met another person from the UK, let alone seen Falkirk on a T-shirt.

“I couldn’t believe it when I saw it. It was on their promotional rail, so it is obviously something they are proud of.

“I think even if you saw someone walking about one of the really fashionable areas of Tokyo, you would be confused by it.”

SHOO-LA-RUE The Clackmannanshire T-shirtSHOO-LA-RUE

One T-shirt features Clackmannanshire and the slogan “clarity precedes success”

Mr Clements, 39, said it was not uncommon for Japanese brands to plaster Western words or locations on their clothing without it being checked by a native speaker.

It could explain the seemingly random dates on some items.

The Clackmannanshire T-shirt includes the slogan “clarity precedes success” underneath a Mediterranean scene.

Meanwhile, the Falkirk design wrongly suggests the town is in West Lothian.

But Mr Clements said mis-transliterations work both ways – including on brands popular in the UK.

“When we go back to Glasgow, to Braehead, my wife laughs when we go past some of the shops,” he said.

“Brands like Superdry will have their T-shirts with Japanese lettering on them. But they are just complete nonsense.

“My wife pointed out the first time that they have taken random letters of the kanji and put them on a T-shirt, but it means nothing.”

So will it start a trend? Will the fashion conscious in Kyoto be wearing Kilmarnock? Will Oban make it big in Osaka? Will Stirling catch on in Sapporo?

It is hard to say. But one enterprising Scottish student in Tokyo has offered to send them home if there is demand.

Michi Ochiai told BBC Scotland News: “I haven’t had any requests yet.

“But if there is one, I might consider.”

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