Men’s plus size fashion is becoming a hot topic here in the U.S., with brands devoted to big guys launching at NYFW last month, and interest in plus male modeling continuing to increase. It turns out, there are other countries getting in on the action, like Japan, who hosted a men’s plus size fashion show put on by clothing line Sakazen and style magazine Mr. Babe. We were able to chat with Gregorio Narvasa, the only non-Japanese model to participate in the show. Gregorio talked about what Japan’s big and tall clothing industry looks like, what to expect from future shows like this.
How does the Japanese men’s plus size industry compare to what we have here in the U.S.?
The industry is similar to America. [There is] 1 major national chain called Sakazen, a small chain called Grandback, and some other random smaller shops in the countryside. There are a few high end department stores similar to Macy’s, like the Isetan Men department store, or the Hankyu department store, and they offer very high end, high priced items.
Uniqlo carries up to 4xl (3xl US) but virtually all of that is online, except for the Ginza flagship store. It is literally a corner with a few items, which is pretty useless. Some brands carry larger sizes online, like American Eagle Japan, or MID Japan, and a few other random sites. Bucca 44 is a new big size brand that just launched, and it’s on the higher end of price, [basically] boutique style.
How did you get involved with the Mr. Babe fashion show?
I auditioned for an open call for large models that was promoted online by Sakazen. The contest was to be the print model with a contract with Mr. babe magazine. I didn’t advance to the finals, but a few months later i got an email from the Alpha Management agency asking me to participate. The other men involved were mostly the finalist from the audition.
I understand that you were the only non-Japanese model in the show, right?
I am half Puertorican and half Filipino, and I grew up mostly in Miami Florida. For the audition, there were 4 white men, 1 Spanish guy, and me.
This is the first plus size men’s fashion show of its kind in Japan. What has the general reception to the event been like?
Of course, it has been mixed. I’ve been looking at comments, which I should never do. You have all the “don’t praise fat” posts, and even more derogatory comments. It’s expected, because trolls and assholes litter the internet. When it comes to the people I know personally, it’s been very supportive.
Do you think fashion shows like this one are the beginning of a sustained men’s plus size movement in Japan?
It was announced that they want to do another show next year, and feature both men’s and women’s plus size fashion.