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TOKYO — Japan Fashion Week isn’t until next month, but some of this city’s most-anticipated runway shows are taking place Saturday. About 20,000 people, most of them young women in their 20s and 30s, are expected to pack into an Olympic stadium near Harajuku for the ninth edition of the popular consumer fashion show Tokyo Girls Collection. Attendees shell out as much as 7,500 yen, or about $80, for tickets to watch models like Yu Yamada and Chikako Watanabe strut down an enormous catwalk, winking and waving to their fans along the way.
This fall’s TGC lasts six-and-a-half hours, in line with previous editions. Once the show wraps, attendees can log on to the event’s Web site via mobile phone or computer and purchase the flirty feminine clothes that just made their way down the runway. Last spring-summer’s show featured everything from gold lamé leggings to frilly bikinis and delicate floral dresses.
Ayako Nagaya, chief producer of the twice-a-year show, run by e-commerce and production company Branding Inc., said last spring’s edition generated same-day sales of 57 million yen, or about $615,000, despite the recession. That sales figure includes mobile phone and PC sales and the sale of small items at the event booths. She declined to discuss other financial figures, but said TGC is profitable.
“We look at what brands and trends are selling in the market and choose the brands based on that,” Nagaya said. “It’s popular because with regular fashion shows, only industry people can attend. And because the show is for the current season, there are items that people want to buy at that time. It’s very current.”
Nagaya said the show’s attendance growth prospects are limited because 20,000 people is close to Yoyogi Stadium’s capacity; TGC organizers don’t want to switch venues and leave the Harajuku area. To that end, Branding Inc. is finding other ways to diversify. Next year, it will stage its third edition of the show in Beijing. TGC staged shows in China in 2007 and 2008, but took off a year to better plan for the next incarnation of the show.
“Japanese models and brands are extremely popular around Asia,” Nagaya said.
Affordable and fashion-forward Japanese brands like Lowrys Farm, Liz Lisa, Milkfed and Uniqlo have dominated the lineup of past TGC editions. But an increasing number of foreign brands are starting to participate as well. Topshop, which is expanding in Japan, will participate for the first time this season. Kitson joined the lineup last spring as it opened its first store here. Nicky Hilton is about to make her second appearance at the show, walking the runway and provided a preview of her fall collection, set to launch in Japan.
The fall-winter edition of the show will include about 25 brands and 70 models. The show also features guest appearances by television personalities and comedians as well as musical performances. Booths around the stadium sell small items like cell phone decorations or distribute free product samples.
Nonapparel companies are also getting involved in the event. Toyota, Maybelline and Kao Corporation’s shampoo brand Essential are sponsoring the fall edition. For the last TGC, Toyota incorporated its Vitz compact car into a Parisian-themed runway show with fashion brand 31 Sons de mode.
“Most of the sponsors are not fashion brands but just brands interested in the young female market,” Nagaya said.