Forget the ice ax and $500 climbing boots. The mode du jour for today’s mountain hikers in Japan is the miniskirt and leggings.
North Face, maker of the Gore-Tex waterproof jacket, and Alpine Tour Service Co. are targeting “yama girls,” or mountain girls, the nickname of the growing number of women who are taking to the hills of Japan wearing short pants or fleece skirts with leggings and designer trekking boots.
“I want to wear something cute like a skirt,” said Machiko Miyauchi, 25, who made her first ascent of Mount Fuji, Japan’s highest peak, earlier this year after buying new equipment and shoes. “Climbing is healing. You can breathe fresh, clean air.”
Visitors to Mount Fuji in the two months ended Aug. 31, the busiest climbing season, were the most since the government began tracking traffic using infrared sensors in 2005. The number of women applying for Alpine’s treks jumped sixfold from last year, prompting the Tokyo-based company to increase women- only tours to 13 this year from six in 2009, spokesman Yasushi Kodama said.
Clothing companies have hired mountain fashion pioneers like Yuri Yosumi to promote new women’s lines for mountaineers. Yosumi’s “Love Trek” website includes red mini dresses and pink bush hats from Paris-based Aigle.
Berghaus Ltd., a U.K. outdoor wear maker, introduced skirts jointly developed with Yosumi in 2009, while and Jarden Corp.’s Marmot Mountain LLC, a U.S. outdoor clothing company, followed this year, according to Yosumi’s husband Daisuke.
“We’re giving an option to the market where only pants were available before,” Daisuke Yosumi said. He said his wife was not available to comment.
Japan’s fashion scene is famous for striking cult trends that sweep the industry, typically for a few years, such as the ganguro look that mixed deep fake tans with white lipstick, brightly colored clothes and orange-to-blond hair. Tokyo ranked 14th this year in Global Language Monitor’s annual list of world fashion capitals, trailing Hong Kong and Shanghai in Asia.