Chinese consumers are spending up to $780 to buy the traditional Japanese school bag for their kids. And they’re not just buying one, often they’re buying at least 2 or 3 at a time!
The “randoseru” backpack has been worn by Japanese school children for generations, but not (only) for its stylish looks. The leather bag is built with a Japan-specific practicality in mind. It’s reinforced with a steel plate and is also able to be used as a flotation device—both features which have been introduced with protection during earthquakes, or tsunami, in mind.
Now with the new school year about to begin, People has reported that sales of the bags to Chinese buyers have increased dramatically, saying that “A woman surnamed Wang who traveled Japan this summer described malls full of Chinese shopping for the item.”
Albeit at perhaps a slower pace, the trend seems to be spreading to other parts of the world as well, with US actor Zooey Deschanel spotted wearing one of the fashionable backpacks, subsequently sparking unprecedented international media attention for the humble bag.
Despite its now obvious fashion appeal, some more practical criticisms are starting to emerge, with People reporting that a Chinese mother said that the bag was in fact too heavy for children and “The bag doesn’t hold much, there’s only room for a few books and a pencil case. They’d need to carry all their other books.”
What will be the next consumer craze for Chinese tourists in Japan?