OSAKA — Hennes & Mauritz Japan has shuttered its temporary offices here and plans to reopen its Tokyo headquarters Wednesday, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.
The fast-fashion retailer announced Thursday that it was setting up a temporary Osaka office and offered to relocate any of its 800 employees and their families to western Japan after a 9-magnitude quake and destructive tsunami struck the northeastern part of the country. But only a limited number of those people took up the offer, and most employees returned to Tokyo on Tuesday, the spokeswoman said.
She said H&M still has not decided when it will open its network of Tokyo stores, which have also been closed since late last week. The spokeswoman said the stores are still being inspected for their safety and will most likely be reopened gradually. She said the retailer can't quantify how much the closures will affect sales in the long term but it is prioritizing the safety of its employees and customers.
The H&M shift back to Tokyo is the latest example of how life in Japan's capital is slowly resuming its normal rhythms as nuclear fears begin to recede. Many fashion houses and luxury brands including Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Christian Dior and Chanel reopened their headquarters and flagship stores Tuesday after the three-day weekend. Monday's foot traffic along Omotesando Avenue and Harajuku seemed close to normal levels and shoppers were seen making purchases at Vuitton, Dior and Forever 21. H&M's closed flagship drew some puzzled looks from passersby.
Retailers and brands still face some obstacles. Some have cut back on store opening hours to conserve energy as rolling power cuts are still taking place in outlying parts of the city. The aftershocks have died down in frequency but they still occur and could persist for weeks or months. The extent of the national disaster's overall impact on consumers is a key concern. Just Monday Tiffany & Co. warned that the disaster would push its first-quarter sales in Japan down 15 percent.
Analysts at Nomura, analyzing the Tiffany announcement, said the American company has not factored in Japan's "continued weakness" beyond the first quarter.
"Although [it's] difficult to determine how the tragic situation in Japan will affect consumer spending (and for what length of time), we believe it is more realistic to reflect some continued weakness beyond 1Q," the analysts wrote in a research report.
Meanwhile, Tokyo stocks rebounded Tuesday. The Nikkei 225 climbed 4.4 percent to end the session at 9,608.32.
Although Japan Fashion Week was canceled, one fashion brand forged ahead with its runway show on Tuesday. Several fashion editors braved the cold and rain to attend the fall-winter show of Etw. Vonneguet.
The brand's designer, who goes by the name of Olga, showed a collection of six looks before staging a theatrical finale in which she received a live haircut as she wrote out messages on a tablet. The last of these, saying only, "Thank you," garnered enthusiastic applause from the crowd.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast