See-Through Skirts: Real or Fake Japanese Fashion Trend?

Fooling the Eye With Photoshop

woman in a skirt looking out the window

Mint Images/Getty Images

A supposed fashion craze in Japan dating back to February 2003 appears to show women's skirts that are designed to look like they're transparent even though they really aren't. A closer look at this trend shows that it was all a hoax.

Are Japanese See-Through Skirts Real?

This rumor appears to be false as there isn't a single legitimate press report to back up the claim and substantiate these images which have been Photoshopped.

In every one of the photos, the contours of the "imitation" legs and panties match the poses of the models exactly — which shouldn't be the case if they're printed on the surfaces of the skirts. What we see instead are passable representations of what it might look like if the clothing were transparent.

Secondly, whoever manipulated these images made subtle errors, most notably in one image that, when it was enlarged, lines and shadows belonging to the superimposed legs and panties cut visibly across the model's purse straps. All the examples, when examined closely, give the impression that the panty images were overlaid directly onto the photographs, not imprinted on the clothing.

Japanese fashion designers do have a reputation for cutting-edge ideas, but ersatz see-through clothing isn't one of them. At least not yet.

As the Toronto Star reported:

They (the pictures) are quite common in Japan. There are a lot of cheap porno magazines that use them," Kjeld Duits, 43, says in an interview from Ashia, near Osaka, Japan, where he works as a journalist and runs a street fashion/trend Web site called
The only time you see these scenes are in photographs in porno magazines. There's nothing like this in the street," Duits says. The magazines use a computer graphics program to combine the image of a skirted woman with another wearing just underwear. The end result looks as if the skirt is see-through.
According to Duits, the magazines will usually claim to have taken the pictures using a special camera lens that allows them to shoot through clothes.

Japanese Breast Scarves

In addition to the see-through skirts, Japan has also been a hotbed for some other unusual fashion items that have been looked on with fascination including the eye-popping "breast scarves" which were widely covered by Western news media. The scarves were actually part of an art exhibition and weren't widely sold to consumers.

Fashion Hoax Updates

Fashion Hoax Fools People Worldwide
From Japanese Streets, an ezine devoted to street fashions in Japan: "Thousands of people worldwide are being fooled by a clever fashion hoax which plays on people's secret desires...."

Queensland Tabloid Bites on Hoax
Does the article headlined "A Cheeky Skirt?" which ran in the Feb. 16, 2003 edition of The Sunday Mirror authenticate this tall tale: No, it does not. Evidently, the Mirror copped the story (and one of the photos) from the viral email, which had already been circulating for several days at that point.