TOKYO — The Japan Creation textile fair this month featured hand-spun silk and polyester recycling systems, showcasing the country's ability to preserve ancient techniques while pioneering new fabric technology.
Although some exhibitors cited a tough business climate, particularly in their mainstay domestic market, recent figures from the Ministry of Finance indicate growing demand for Japanese textiles abroad, especially in China and other Asian countries. Exports of Japanese yarn and fabrics in October rose 7 percent to 69 billion yen, or $614.6 million at current exchange. Between April and September, the first half of Japan's current fiscal year, exports of those items grew 3.9 percent to 418.4 billion yen, or $3.74 billion.
The show, which ended its three-day run Dec. 7, typically draws about 40,000 visitors from across Asia. However, attendance fell 13 percent to 38,411 compared with last year, according to Japan Fashion Week, which organizes the show. The decline was blamed on Japanese fashion companies' increasing tendency to delegate their sourcing activities to third-party agents. The event also provides little assistance to non-Japanese speakers, reflecting the show's overwhelmingly domestic thrust.
Exhibitors displayed an array of textiles for the fall and winter season, from lightweight, breathable denim to a fabric made from a blend of Japanese paper and herbs. Japanese silk makers were a significant presence and offered an extensive selection of products, including silk in jewel tones like emerald and sapphire, intricate florals and even woven miniature replicas of Mt. Fuji.
"Nowadays there is a real emphasis on 'Made in Japan.' People buy the cheap stuff in China," said Eita Saito, chief director of silk manufacturer Saiei Orimono Co., a supplier to labels such as Burberry and Givenchy.
This season, his company is offering a woven silk coated in a simulated gold finish and a chambray silk that alters the color of its sheen as it moves.
"Very shiny silks are really popular now," Saito added.
Show-Ichi Tsubota, president of Tsuboyoshi Orimono Co., stressed real silk's staying power in a crowded arena of synthetics and imitations.
"The Japanese have the culture of the kimono and they know what real silk means," he said, showing a coated version designed to simulate python skin.But Japan's expertise in synthetics was also a dominant presence. Masuda Co. developed a new polyurethane-coated nylon for outerwear that provides sheen and durability. Sakei Ovex Co. showed polyester and cotton blends that were capable of being used to create a featherweight tunic dress or a cropped trenchcoat.
Mitsubishi Rayon Textile Co. is pushing triacetate blends that are wrinkle-free, easy to care for and soft to the touch. The company's client roster includes fashion houses such as Prada, Marni and Stella McCartney.
"They are lightweight materials with the feel of spanned silk," said Ichiro Kogo, director of Mitsubishi's textile sales department.
The company is also producing a polyester yarn that can be easily mistaken for real silk.
Reflecting the ecological trend in fashion, Osaka-based Teijin Fibers is expanding its system of polyester recycling. The company started its "Ecocircle" project in 2002 for sports and work uniforms, but wants to broaden its reach to everyday apparel. Teijin's stand showed how recycled polyester can be transformed into items as varied as a velvet-like jacket and a crisp pouf skirt.
"We intend to expand our technology to various areas, not only sports and uniform wear but also fashionable wear," said Kohei Azuma, of Teijin's fashion textiles sales department.
In yet another fashion show shuffle, @elleryland is moving its show in sync with the Paris couture calendar — though the brand is still keeping one foot on the city’s ready-to-wear schedule. Their runway show in January will coincide with the launch of a new strategy: designing two main collections each year instead of four, which will then be released in four drops. “As we all know, the system needs to change. We need to show sooner to give time back to artisans and designers to do what they do best — create,” said founder Kym Ellery. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
@maxmara’s classic 101801 coat was the cornerstone of its pre-fall 2018 collection. The design team expanded the traditional double-breasted, kimono-sleeved style into a trapeze coat, lean belted styles and a peacoat and presented them in monochromatic looks – like the camel one pictured here. #wwdfashion #prefall18 (📷: George Chinsee)
The @cfda has shifted the dates of #NYFW, with Men’s showing on February 5 through February 7, and Women’s will directly follow, running from February 8 through 14. The preliminary schedule will be released on the CFDA’s web site in the next few days, but Mark Beckham, VP of marketing for the CFDA, revealed that @rafsimons will be back to close the men’s-specific part of the week with a show on February 7 #wwdfashion (📷: Kelly Taub)
@ferragamo is introducing a new space dedicated to the development of women’s and men’s leather good samples. The laboratory, which is created eco-friendly materials and designed to reduce the environmental impact of the manufacturing processes, will allow the company to expand its accessories offering through traditional artisanal approaches. #wwdfashion (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
How does a “regular, degular, schmegular” girl from the Bronx, N.Y., become a Grammy-nominated artist with a certified platinum record in less than a year? Call it the @iamcardib come up. The 25-year-old has become a musical sensation, and the fashion world is taking note. “If I could describe her style I would say drama. She’s really into the dramatics,” says Cardi B’s stylist @kollincarter. See how Carter styles her bold and out there looks with the link in bio. #wwdfashion
“There is no formula. There is no guideline. I can watch Ted Talks all day, but there is no one who can advise me on exactly what it is I should be doing,” said @ronniefieg, CEO of @kith, in an interview with WWD’s @ariahughes at the brand’s new SoHo office in Manhattan. Head to WWD.com to see how Fieg went from hanging out in shoe stockrooms at 13 to building his own business. #wwdfashion (📷: @weston.wells)
@fearofgod and @maxfieldla have teamed up on a pop-up installation. The store, located in the gallery space across from Maxfield’s Melrose Ave location, is the site of the brand’s House of God pop-up in which Fear of God founder @jerrylorenzo has created a church-inspired installation. A dozen vintage church pews sit in front of an LED screen playing 90s gospel singers in an effort to re-create an environment akin to a Southern Baptist Church, Lorenzo explained. Read more about the pop-up on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Jennifer Johnson)
Known for his sleek, sophisticated American glamour, Norman Norell is the subject of an upcoming exhibition at @fitnyc. “Norell: Dean of American Fashion,” which runs from February 9 through April 14, will feature approximately 100 ensembles and accessories. His best work is exemplified by the designer’s glittering “mermaid” gowns frosted with thousands of hand-sewn sequins – like the one pictured. (📷: William Helburn) #wwdfashion
For pre-fall 2018, @balmain didn’t let go of the glitz. A crystal embroidered baseball jacket priced at around $40,000 hangs in the “couture” section of the brand’s first men’s pre-collection. Sporting the words “Balmain Army” across the back, the item took around two months to make. “When it was completed, it was like Christmas, it was like, ‘It’s done, it’s exactly what I wanted,’” said Balmain’s creative director @olivier_rousteing during a tour of the collection in a Paris showroom on Monday. #wwdfashion