Free clothing entices Tokyo residents to bare all

TOKYO (AFP) - Tokyo shoppers braved cloudy weather to strip down to the bare essentials on Saturday hoping to win free clothing as part of a promotional giveaway.

The "semi-naked party" was hosted by Barcelona-based retailer Desigual, who handed out free clothes to around a hundred

customers dressed in swimsuits and underwear at its flagship shop in Tokyo.

Desigual, founded in 1984 and famous for its colourful patchwork designs, has staged similar events in Barcelona, Paris, New York and other fashion capitals ahead of major sales campaigns, but never before in Asia.

About 350 people had queued outside the shop in the upscale Harajuku district, some of them waiting in line since the night before, under cloudy skies in the middle of a rainy season.

But only 100 of them, aged 18 or older, were admitted to the event starting at 10am local time on a first-come, first-served basis.

They merrily stripped to next to nothing, many of the women sporting bikinis, at a cafe near the shop and wore multi-coloured kimono-like bathrobes and beige hats provided by the company. They were given churros and vitamin water for breakfast as they waited for the door to open.

After a countdown they threw away the bathrobes and made a beeling for the three-storey shop.

Each customer was allowed to come out wearing two products, one top and one bottom.

"I'm here because I thought it's fun to come in swimsuits," said 26-year-old Tomomi Sasa, an unemployed Tokyo woman, before entering the shop. "I haven't decided what to take home."

The company has nine wholly owned shops in Japan and the flagship shop, established last December, is the second oldest.