If there is a retailer out there that captures the essence of Saturn in Virgo, it’s Japan’s Muji, which adheres to the philosophy that “modesty and discretion are, together, the better part of style.”
Modesty? Discretion? Yes folks, the times they are a-changin’. It’s my belief that the glory days of flashy designer labels ended when Saturn left Leo on Sept. 2, 2007. As the economy turns sour, even rich people are going to stop flaunting their wealth, unless they happen to be in China or India.
Ralph Lauren, one of the smartest businessmen around, is rolling out the American Living line at J.C. Penney (JCP). Although Isaac Mizrahi and others have been doing cheap chic at Target for some time, now that Ralph is going mass market I’m sure a downturn is coming. Want more proof that a recession on the way? Lauren’s selling shares in his company, Polo Ralph Lauren. According to the AP, he recently exercised options for 5,200 shares at $19.13 and sold them for $65 each. (The stock closed Mar. 27 at $61.)
O.K., enough about Ralph already. Back to Muji. In my humble opinion, Muji is the perfect (there’s a Saturn in Virgo word for you!) embodiment of the new low-impact ethos. Its first New York store opened in Soho last November . Here’s the link to the Muji Web site: http://www.muji.com/
The site is pretty minimalist. To get a better idea of Muji’s product line, which includes things like cardboard speakers, you may want to click on: http://www.mujionline.co.uk/
Muji reminds me a little of Ikea, but with better quality and more eco-consciousness, and also of the now-defunct Conran’s before Sir Terence overextended himself and the chain went down the tubes.
When it comes to conserving energy and minimizing waste, we have a lot to learn from the Land of the Rising Sun. O.K., maybe the rest of the world doesn’t need more Hello Kitty! merchandise or special slippers for the bathroom, but Japan really got the energy crisis the first time around, in the Seventies. There’s not a lot of room for waste in Japan because it’s one of the world’s most densely populated countries, with close to 130 million people on that archipelago, or 343 persons per square kilometer.
As the only country in the world that has been the recipient of a nuclear bomb, Japan and its citizens have a unique perspective on the damage that man can inflict on his fellow man and on the environment. Yes, I know that this is the same country that gave us the Bataan death march (http://www.bataanmarch.com), but some people actually learn from their mistakes.
Maybe the cruel samarai is still hiding behind those smiling faces. Nevertheless, the Japanese seem to do a good job of sublimating their sadistic tendencies with anime, as opposed to starting wars on false evidence of nuclear weapons production.
Lest you think I’m nuts for Nippon, I’ll admit my feelings were a little hurt after all the Japanese got out of the mineral bath when this Amazon gaijin jumped in. But I’m still mad about Muji!