By  on January 9, 2012

TOKYO — Yuichi Yoshii, one of Japan’s most influential retail figures, is bringing a bit of the country’s cool, eclectic fashion to the Pitti Immagine Uomo show in Florence, which begins today.

“Tokyo Fashion Week in Italy,” a Japanese government–sponsored initiative, will showcase the work of some 20 designers, most of whom are gaining traction in their native Japan but have relatively little international presence. Mastermind Japan enjoys fairly strong name recognition abroad but that is not the case for the other participating labels, which include Phenomenon, Facetasm, Discovered, Whiz Limited, Swagger, .efiLevol, Vainl Archive and Ambush.

“I would like to focus on some brands that haven’t done shows internationally. Fresh brands — this is the central idea. It’s a good opportunity to introduce internationally those brands from Japan,” said Yoshii, who is overseeing the project and runs a multibrand store called The Contemporary Fix and a trendy sister cafe called Pariya. Previously he worked as a buyer for LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton’s now defunct private shopping club Celux and as the creative director of the multibrand boutique Loveless.

For the main part of the Japanese exhibition, called “Versus Tokyo,” Yoshii asked each brand to pick a handful of their best-selling items from recent collections and tweak them into new versions for Pitti in the hopes of snagging orders from foreign buyers. Yoshii will be taking over about 3,767 square feet of space of Pitti’s Fortezza da Basso, installing fake grass in the exhibition area for a “sporty” feel.

Some of the items that will be on display include sporty jackets covered with myriad zippered pockets from Phenomenon, button-down shirts sporting a duffle coat-style closure from Black & Blue and a series of tailored garments in polka dotted camouflage from Swagger. Immediately following Pitti, the designers’ work will be on display at Studio Zeta in Milan through Feb. 10.

“I think the people who come to Pitti might be a little bit conservative so the items from these collection are not too edgy but they are not boring,” he said.

On Wednesday, Tokyo Fashion Week will take over the 18th century Palazzo Capponi all’Annunziata and throw a party featuring the culinary work of Hide-Chan Ramen, which has branches in New York and Hong Kong and earned inclusion in the Michelin guides. The noodle restaurant will have to be a little creative as it is sourcing its ingredients in Italy rather than Japan.

Yoshii also said he wants to take advantage of Pitti to make a statement about Japan’s resilience after the March 11 tsunami disaster. “Probably some people are wondering if Japanese people are all right or not,” he said. “I want to say it’s fine. We’re happy and we’re OK.”

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