Apparently Japanese schoolgirls like their school uniforms so much that they want to wear them even outside of school. Of course, why wear a boring uniform when you can wear a nifty customized uniform from a retailer like Conomi or cecile? Nanchatte seifuku, or "just kidding uniforms", have gone from a minor curiosity to a major fashion trend.
The idea is that girls can either buy a complete school uniform for leisure wear, or buy mix-and-match pieces to assemble a custom seifuku. Some schools have more lenient uniform requirements than others, so girls can sometimes augment their compulsory school uniforms with trendy accessories. Even women decidedly past schoolgirl-age may purchase plaid skirts or other items from the nanchatte lines in order to put together a sharp ensemble.
The typical Western thing to do when talking about school uniforms is make a crack about the pressure to conform that Japanese face as exemplified by their fashion, but I don't think that's terribly relevant here, honestly. It's true that girls in non-Asian countries don't tend to be as keen on their uniforms, but a lot of school uniforms happen to be stupidly ugly. My first real experience with school uniforms was watching my Australian cousins deal with tremendously unflattering puce monstrosities- a far cry from the wide range of classy and fairly attractive uniform designs common in Japan. Plus, with all the idealized school uniforms seen in anime, the idea of the dolled-up school uniform gets a lot of exposure. Kampfer may have been a kind of lame show, but damn did I want one of those snazzy uniforms.
Maybe I'll get my chance; with nanchette seifuku becoming increasingly popular outside of Japan, maybe I should get myself some fake-uniform goodness for the brief window of time remaining before I get so old that it looks really stupid. Or better yet, send one to a needy Australian schoolgirl.
[Via Japan Trends]