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A ‘Fresh’ Approach at Japan Fashion Week

The cherry trees will soon blossom here, and so will fashion.

TOKYO — The cherry trees will soon blossom here, and so will fashion.

The sixth Japan Fashion Week in Tokyo will be held from today to March 16 with 45 brands, including 10 newcomers, showing their fall collections. Emerging brands include Ne-net, Somarta and h.Naoto, an iconic brand of Gothic, Lolita and punk design from Japan. And despite the weak dollar and the strong euro, there is expected to be a strong contingent of overseas buyers, according to the industry.

JFW in Tokyo is composed chiefly of Tokyo Collection Week, the JFW Designers’ Exhibition, a textile exhibition, special events for consumers and other events.

During the core Tokyo Collection Week, 45 brands from 44 companies will present their lines over the next six days. “We will powerfully introduce fresh and young Tokyo designs to the world through the designers’ creativity,” said Nobuyuki Ota, director of public relations for JFW.

The JFW Designers’ Exhibition of eight brands will take place at Tokyo Midtown from Wednesday to Friday. “These collections and exhibition will encourage press and buyers from both Japan and overseas to do positive press activities and buying,” said Ota.

“JFW has been sponsoring new designers in many ways,” he said. “Offering venues for free for fashion shows and exhibitions is one of them. New designers who made their debut through this system have earned good reputations from media and buyers from overseas for these couple of seasons. Our support will help designers of the next generation to step up to the worldwide market.”

Shows during Tokyo Collection Week will be aired live and people will be able to watch them on mobile terminals.

Events for both industry executives and the general public will be held mainly during the weekend of March 15 and 16. Jill Stuart will visit Tokyo on March 16 to show her latest collection.

Last month, Fashion Strategy Forum in Japan, the organizer of the event, unveiled a strategy to find young designers from overseas as well as in Japan via recommendations from fashion schools worldwide. With this plan, Fashion Strategy Forum aims to gain more attention from young designers as well as from the fashion media and raise the importance of Tokyo Collection Week.

Under the plan, the organizers of fashion week in Tokyo would stage shows for the recommended designers in March 2009 during the eighth JFW. The program is still being finalized, however, including which fashion schools would be invited to take part. In addition, according to the organizers, the event would not be limited to fashion school students but could be open to other young designers.

The selected designers would get the chance to show about 20 garments, either with a runway show or at an exhibition, but the organizers have not commented on whether they would provide financial support in the way they have supported young Japanese designers to show during JFW.

The Japanese fashion industry is characterized by its high-quality of manufacturing and by the country’s large number of luxury consumers. However, in the past, Tokyo Collection has had difficulty attracting both domestic and foreign media and buyers because of the length of the program, which previously lasted almost a month. As a result, it could not create many substantial business opportunities, according to the organization.

In 2005, when the Council of Fashion Designers Tokyo, an organizer of the Tokyo Collection, had its 20th anniversary, momentum grew among designers and others in the industry to strengthen the power of Japanese fashion. In order to enrich the Tokyo Collection and encourage both domestic and foreign media and buyers to visit, the CFD Tokyo improved its management system, concentrated venues and shortened the program to about a week.

In addition, designers, manufacturers and others in the apparel and retail industry in Japan established the Fashion Strategy Forum in June 2005, which included the launch of JFW in Tokyo to organize textile exhibitions and other fashion events, as well as the existing Tokyo Collection.

“Through JFW, we want to show a strong presence of our design, textile and apparel products,” said Ota. “There are designers who get interested in our textiles and technique of high quality and start making the products by using them. More of this kind of business should take place.”