Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama likes to wear flamboyant clothes. But his latest quirky shirt has gone further than any before - inspiring a copy that went on sale on Wednesday for $500 apiece.
The replica is yellow on one arm, blue on the other, red in front and checkered all over. Hatoyama's original, worn at a recent barbecue, drew mention in the media as an example of odd taste. Yet a shirt-by-order startup hopes the multicolored item will catch on, selling it online under the heading "Prime Minister of Japan & Fashion Hero."
"The Hatoyama Shirt" is not the prime minister's first eye-opening attire. Hatoyama's past fashion picks include a shirt speckled with hearts, Hawaiian-style shirts and colorfully striped ones.
The co-founders of Shanghai-based ShirtsMyWay.com think the shirt shows a free spirit, even courage, that is needed in global leadership.
"He is showing individuality and creativity," co-founder Michael Yang told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "We are not making fun of Yukio Hatoyama. We are supporting him." Lately, few Japanese are supporting him, at least on the political front, largely because he has reneged on campaign pledges, including a promise to remove a U.S. military base off the southern island of Okinawa.
Peter Crawfurd, the other co-founder, thinks President Barack Obama's attire pales in comparison to Hatoyama's. The Hatoyama shirt is a "limited edition," with only 50 available in the first round of orders. If demand is strong, it will be offered again. "It definitely stands out," Crawfurd said.