TOKYO — Japan Fashion Week, which ended its six-day run Saturday, drew mostly positive reviews from buyers making the rounds of runway shows and showrooms.
But it’s still unclear how much that feedback will actually translate into sales. Japan is planning to increase its sales tax to 8 percent from 5 percent in April and some Japanese retailers are expressing a certain level of caution about how much that added cost might deter shoppers. Meanwhile, foreign buyers here said they are being selective when it comes to placing orders.
Miyako Sekimoto, fashion director for Matsuya, said her store is keeping its current spring 2014 budget for Japanese brands in line with this year to be sure it doesn’t wind up with unsold stock.
“We are a little worried so we decided to keep the same budget,” she said, adding that it’s easier for Japanese retailers to buy Japanese brands’ stock at the last minute rather than import foreign brands from abroad. So Matsuya might wait as late as March or April to gauge the situation before possibly placing more orders with local labels.
Tokyo Fashion Week, sponsored by Mercedes-Benz, has never been a major stop on the fashion calendar for international buyers, but JFW organizers said foreign retailer registrations rose to 192 this season, up from 168 registrations in March and 153 in October 2012. A JFW spokeswoman stressed that some buyers choose not to register, so the true number of retailers coming to Tokyo is higher than the official figures.
Of the 192 registered international buyers from this season, 52 of them were representing stores in China. Another 28 represented American retailers and 26 did so for stores in Hong Kong. These were the top three markets.
Takuya Saito, a buyer for e-commerce player Zozotown, said overall his budget for Japanese brands is increasing.
“Basically, I’m always looking for clothes with a kind of value — something that you can’t find anywhere else. So in that sense, the most enjoyable one this time was Anrealage, and after that was a brand called Lamarck. It’s in its second or third year and until now, I haven’t really noticed it, but this time it was very clean…as a collection I thought it was very tight,” he said.
Saito expressed a certain level of frustration about Tokyo’s packed schedule in which on-calendar and off-calendar events overlapped with one another.
“I wasn’t able to see some of the ones I wanted to see. So I think [organizers] need to do something about that,” he said.
Matsuya’s Sekimoto said she thought the quality of the Tokyo collections was “much, much better than last season.” She said she was happy to see brands like Somarta and Mint Designs put out clothing with a unique point of view but still in keeping with broader international fashion trends — like this season’s move away from spare minimalism toward prints and ornamentation.
“I think they felt those kind of big changes [within fashion],” Sekimoto said.
In keeping with past seasons, the Japan External Trade Organization flew several retailers to Tokyo for fashion week. Reactions from this group of buyers was mixed.
Ksenia Mamontova, owner of multibrand store Leform in Moscow, said she came to find “something new” for her store. She was pleased with what she found at brands like Helmaph & Roditus, Suzuki Takayuki and Arts & Science, but other designers’ offerings fell short in terms of the quality her luxury customers expect.
“[These Japanese brands] are not for our shop. It’s not our level. It’s like streetwear,” she said.
Faris Al Shehri, managing director of Saudi Arabian retail group Art of Kôhl, and Layla Al Shehri, buying director for the company’s Maison Bo-M store, made the trip to Tokyo to check out up-and-coming labels for pop-up shops and special exhibitions at their stores.
“We wanted to explore the brands that didn’t have the chance [to show in Paris or another international capital] and now we’re quite happy with the result that we see,” Faris Al Shehri said, adding that the retailer had placed orders for about 10 brands including Avie and Yeah Right.
While Japanese brands tend to limit their size range to the smaller end of the spectrum, which can be tricky for foreign buyers, the Al Shehris said they were pleased to find ways to work around that issue.
“Especially the length [is important] for our market. We want everything longer so the Japanese designers are quite flexible and they understand that,” said Layla Al Shehri.
Darlyn Sophonpanich Yangpichit, chief executive officer of multibrand store Darlyny in Bangkok, said she liked the character and quality of the brands she saw in Tokyo, like Undecorated Man and hat line Ca4la (pronounced Cashira, playing off the Japanese word for the number four) but she is going to need to think carefully before placing orders.
“I like the designers, but some styles don’t mesh with our customers,” she said, describing her store’s style as casual and relaxed. “We have to select and mix and match.”
From overseeing America’s fastest-growing speciality retailers to codifying cool, WWD talked to the women who are leading the way for the future of beauty. Check out our Instagram Stories to see how these women built today and are creating tomorrow. (📸: @hannah_khymych) #wwdbeauty
For @laperlalingerie's spring 2018 show, the brand chose to host their event at @thevenetianmacao. With Chinese megastars @bingbing_fan and @hubing in attendance, La Perla debuted a rock ‘n’ roll-inspired collection. The show marked the start of Sands Macao Fashion Week, which runs from October 19 to 24 — the city’s first such event. Pictured here are models backstage with glimmering eyes. #wwdfashion (📷: Cheuk-Yin To)
Trending for spring 2018: top stitch design. Gone are the days of stitch just for seams — designers are using the once-minimal detail to create strong decorative elements. (📷: Paola Testa; Styled by @andrew_shang) #wwdfashion
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)