For most of us, fashion shows inspire rather than stock our wardrobes. The clothes are too darn expensive, first off, and then there’s the long, long wait until what you spot on the runway makes it into the stores.

That is, unless you live in Japan.

Twice a year, the Tokyo Girls Fashion Show features the hottest and (this being Japan) most adorable fashions, all available for purchase via cell phone.

This particular intersection of fashion and commerce has been on our wish list for awhile, but Japan has beat Europe and the United States to the punch.

It seems like a marketing gimme. Why wouldn’t retailers, especially ones who target gadget- and fashion-obsessed youth, make it easy for consumers to snap up their goods at the touch of the button?

Part of the reason is because of the way Europeans and Americans use cell phones.

Japanese use their phones for anything and everything: reading email, blogging and yes, shopping. Enough cell phones sell in Japan each year to give a new one to half the population.

The Japanese want their phones packed with features that seem like science fiction to Americans: motion sensors for Wii-like games, ecommerce apps that let you pay for food and subway fare, and yes, the ability to shop right from your phone. When it comes right down to it, folks in the US and UK would just as soon use their phones to text – or even, God forbid, make a phone call.

All of this has made it quite a challenge for retailers to adapt mobile ecommerce for the western market. One idea, semicode bars, popped up in H&M ads in the UK in 2007. The idea was consumers would spot a belt or a blouse or a bangle they craved, snap a picture of the bar code, and beam the info to H&M headquarters, where the elves of fast fashion would assemble their purchase.

Sounds great to us, but as the internets are curiously silent about the campaign from 2008 on, it’s probably safe to say it didn’t take off. And you still can’t buy H&M duds from their website.

Save us, Japan!