Shoppers in swimwear start the semi-naked party at the Desigual shop in Tokyo on June 22.

Tokyo residents braved cloudy weather to strip down to the bare essentials on Saturday hoping to win free clothing.

The promotional “semi-naked party” was hosted by Barcelona-based Desigual, who gave away free clothes to 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 come to the shop in the upscale Harajuku district, some of them queuing 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 10 o'clock 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 with churros and vitamin water for breakfast as they waited for the door to open.

After a countdown i they threw away the bathrobes and went about the three-storey shop stacked with Desigual goods.

Each of them 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. It has 330 wholly owned shops and 9,000 other outlets in 98 countries around the world, according to a press release. -Sapa-AFP