TOKYO — Japan’s emerging design talents take to the runway today as Japan Fashion Week kicks off its five-day run through Friday.
This spring/summer schedule is a departure from seasons past on several levels. A handful of the city’s up-and-coming men’s designers are choosing to present their collections abroad or stage off-calendar events. What’s more, the show locations are disparate — a logistical hassle for back-to-back shows —and fewer brands are using the week’s official venue of Tokyo Midtown.
There are other significant changes of note. JFW organizers are opting to use their tighter budget to sponsor buyer trips for the week rather than pay for journalists to cover the shows, a decision that is likely to affect the quality of international press coverage. The organizers are also broadening the scope of the week beyond the high-end, luxury segment of the market to better reflect what makes this city so special: its unique and hyper-trendy street fashion.
Liz Lisa and Vanquish are two of the newcomers participating this season with runway shows. Both labels have stores in the iconic Shibuya 109 shopping mall, where young women snap up crystal-encrusted charms and HotPants. Liz Lisa currently offers items such as a ruffled floral jumpsuit for 8,295 yen, or about $102, and a lace poncho top for 7,245 yen, or $89. Vanquish sells sequined mini-skirts for 5,775 yen, or $71, and sweaters bearing a Betty Boop pattern for 5,985 yen, or $74.
“In order to make JFW’s identity much stronger, I would like to get more unknown young designers or newcomers, who are creating the casual wear we see on the street,” said Nobuyuki Ota, chief of JFW’s collection project committee. “Young-looking, funky casual wear is much more important in Tokyo, compared with other fashion cities.”
On the more cerebral and conceptual end of the fashion spectrum, Somarta, Matohu and Mikio Sakabe are some of the most anticipated shows of the week. Men’s labels Phenomenon, Yoshio Kubo and Discovered are also noteworthy participants. As usual, some brands have opted out of the five-day official calendar. Mint Designs and Sunao Kuwahara showed Friday, for example.
This is a transitional season for Japan Fashion Week, which is gradually weaning itself off government funding and hunting for new corporate backers. To that end, JFW has delegated all sponsorship negotiations to IMG Fashion. Peter Levy, senior vice president and managing director of IMG Fashion worldwide, will visit Tokyo this season.
“I am very excited to come to Tokyo and learn about the event and its current positioning and help identify future possibilities,” Levy said, adding that IMG will be looking to establish sponsorship deals both within and outside the world of fashion.
The Japanese government is contributing a total of 335 million yen, or $4.1 million, to the 2011 spring collections this week and the 2011 fall collections in March of next year. That amount is about two-thirds lower than the sum JFW requested. The government will stop funding JFW as of next year, although it has pledged to support the nation’s fashion industry in other ways. Ota predicts that turnout for the shows will be roughly in line with that of the spring/summer shows last year. The number of people attending that round actually slid to 15,311 from 17,774 people last year, an outcome JFW blamed on some brands choosing smaller venues.
Ota also noted encouraging signs for business. He mentioned that some Japanese department stores, like Mitsukoshi Ginza, are carrying more merchandise from emerging labels. Department store operators, which have seen lagging business for more than a decade, are looking for new ways to distinguish themselves and attract customers. Japanese brands are attractive to Japanese retailers, as European brands are comparatively more expensive, Ota said. He added that stores are on the hunt for affordable, unique merchandise.
“Next season, I believe more big stores will promote the unknown domestic designers,” Ota said.
Still, it’s clear that Japanese brands are facing hurdles on the business front, including a strong yen. Although some designers have snagged international accounts, most of them do the bulk of their business in Japan. This country’s saturated and sluggish market conditions have been well documented. Last Thursday, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton said its third-quarter sales in Japan fell 6 percent, and its chief financial officer, Jean-Jacques Guiony, said he doesn’t expect a “big upswing” in the near future. At the same time, some in the industry say they think the luxury market has hit bottom. Italy’s Altagamma, which releases fresh statistics today, is expecting the Japanese market to grow slightly in 2011, according to its executive director Armando Branchini. Last week, Takashimaya said it is beginning to see a slight recovery in business.
EXCLUSIVE: @tomford is opening its first-ever beauty store. The boutique, which opens November 20 in London’s Covent Gardens, was designed with the over-the-top glam Ford is known for. Read the full story on WWD.com, link in bio. #wwdbeauty #wwdnews (📷: Simon Wagner) #TomFordBeauty
New York-based DJ @harleyvnewton threw a party to celebrate the holiday collection of her dress and pajama line @hvn at the Ladurée Beverly Hills. It Girls @katebosworth, @rashidajones and more joined in on the fun, which included cocktails, croque monsieur sandwiches and a photo booth. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA.com)
For the holidays, @Burberry partnered with 20-year-old artist @blondeymccoy on a series of three outdoor murals in downtown Manhattan. The murals are McCoy’s interpretation of a Christmas eve party, the idea of charity and the spirit of family. His third mural, pictured here, is the most personal. The image depicts McCoy’s grandparents and father in London’s Trafalgar Square in the Seventies. “My work often features lots of sentimental objects.” #wwdeye
For spring 2018, designers applied bold colors and cartoonish motifs on everything from sneakers and belts to key chains. See all the top men’s accessories trends on WWD.com. #wwdtrends (📷: George Chinsee; Prop Styling by @rnasti; Market Editor: @luiscampuzano)
The @dior-sponsored @guggenheim international gala pre-party has a history of drawing cool-girl musical acts to serenade the crowd –– and last night was no exception. @haimtheband performed songs both new and old, and lured a star-studded audience with the likes of Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Mamoudou Athie and more. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
In a partnership between the @metopera and the @englishnationalopera, “Marnie” was born. The opera, with costumes sponsored by @mrporterlive, is an adaptation of the 1961 thriller by Winston Graham. Arianne Phillips, who created the costumes, is no rookie: She’s styled Madonna for her tours and created costumes for a myriad of films in the past. Read WWD’s interview with Phillips, where she talks about her inspiration for the opera’s costumes on WWD.com #wwdfashion
@barneysnyc took a different approach to their holiday windows this year. Instead of Christmas decor, Barneys tapped @thehaasbrothers to tell a story of positivity, gratitude and inclusivity via heartwarming silliness and humor. “It’s about kids and it’s about coming together and being family and loving each other,” said Simon Haas. #wwdfashion (📷: @joshuascottphoto)
Beauty influencer @kandeejohnson makes her foray into hair care with a collaboration with @ogx_beauty — making it the first time that OGX has teamed up for a product creation. The collab includes shampoos and conditioners in three scents. At 39 and a mom, Johnson is a different profile than the emerging social media stars, but is considered one of the pioneers of the digital beauty influencer world. Read WWD’s interview with her on wwd.com, including the strangest beauty product she’s ever tried #wwdbeauty