In February 2023, Japanese Twitter users noticed the disappearance of popular Japanese women’s fashion brand Swankiss. Clothing from Swankiss was overall very feminine often with notes of vintage, kawaii, and romantic elements. Larme magazine often featured Swankiss adverts which led to gaining a decent overseas following. Often times it was considered a larme kei or girly kei brand. The brand quietly disappeared this year though leading many to ask “What happened to Swankiss?”
Started in August 2016, Swankiss characterized themselves by making “romantic,” “sweet,” and “fantasy” clothing for women and girls in their teens and twenties. They had four stores in Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, and Hiroshima, and an online shop that also carried their sister brand MISS ME BY CHALING, aimed at women in their twenties and thirties. The brand was heavily featured in Larme.
Swankiss’s Final Days
Swankiss reported 451 million yen in annual sales for their 2019 fiscal year. Due to COVID-19, the brand began to see a decrease in sales. At the end of the 2021 fiscal year, their sales declined to 276 million yen, approximately nearing a 40% drop.
Due to ongoing losses, the brand prepared itself to cease operations. In August 2022, Swankiss’s sister brand MISS ME BY CHALING was transferred to another company. In December of 2022, they closed their Osaka store. By the end of January 2023, the online shop and remaining three stores in Hiroshima, Nagoya, and Tokyo closed. Swankiss filed for bankruptcy.
Since Swankiss never posted an official announcement, word of the closing spread rather slowly, not really gaining traction until mid February. Twitter users noticed that all of the remaining online inventory of Swankiss items were heavily discounted. One person mentioned that another Larme kei brand called Honey Salon also closed the week prior.
Unfortunately, Swankiss was another pandemic casualty. Many brands with physical shops shuttered due to lack of tourists from Japan’s strict international travel restrictions. Even though Swankiss had an online shop, they did not ship overseas therefore making it difficult for overseas fans to buy their products without using a shopping service. Although that isn’t solely a Swankiss’s problem; many Japanese companies refuse to bother shipping internationally which sometimes may cost them more than they bargained for.
Memories of Swankiss
Although I never owned a piece of Swankiss myself, I considered their image really whimsical. Their use of popular models like Risa Nakamura and the late Sayaka Kanda really made them stand out to me. When I think of Risa Nakamura, really I think of Swankiss and the rise of Larme. I also really liked the look of their platform shoes, but they never made them in my size.
The weirdest thing was that one Swankiss and Bodyline collaboration. They collaborated on a few Halloween costumes. Surprisingly, they were actually cute. Given Bodyline’s not so great reputation in Japan and that Swankiss was popular enough to have a shop inside Shibuya109, it was a huge surprise when this collaboration dropped. Overall not bad, but how did that even happen? What even was that?
Their styling was really fun and colorful, especially in the early days. Swankiss’s former producer Saaya Hayashida still works for MISS ME BY CHALING if you’re interested in following her work. Swankiss will be missed.