The worldwide recession is boosting the importance of trade shows in Japan. In the current climate, designers are spending less on flashy fashion shows and events, and buyers are becoming more focused on product development.

This story first appeared in the May 20, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“Most of the merchandise at my store is not from runway show designers, but from individual exhibitors who sometimes have more interesting ideas,” said Etsuko Yoneyama, director and buyer at Lamp Harajuku, a popular shop in Tokyo. Yoneyama attends the collections in Tokyo and Paris, but often buys merchandise from smaller suppliers.

Chiaki Takahashi, a buyer at boutique Adam et Rope, said, “At trade shows and individual exhibitions, I can talk more closely to designers and [brand reps.] They are flexible and work with us to develop more sellable merchandise.”

Rooms, one of the most cutting edge trade shows in Japan, “has been successful because the exhibitors there make efforts to show their brand image…and also make time to talk with buyers,” said show producer Mika Sato.

During the last edition of Rooms in February, 380 exhibitors showed their wares to 14,400 attendees, a 1.4 percent attendance increase from the previous show. Rooms organizers are currently reaching out to overseas buyers in an effort to increase foreign attendance.

The next edition of the show will be held Sept. 16 to 18 at Yoyogi National Stadium. It will once again feature Rooms Link, a series of off-site presentations at local retailers such as shopping mall Omotesando Hills and department stores Parco and Lumine.

“Rooms wants to create fashion excitement throughout Tokyo,” said Sato. “If you want consumers to buy your merchandise, you have to make your fashion statement more available to everyone — the time of staying in a booth and waiting for buyers to come is over.”

Mass market clothing and accessories show Frontier vol. 74 will join forces with the 68th Tokyo International Gift Show from Sept. 8 to 11. Takashi Yoshioka, a representative for Frontier, held at convention center Tokyo Big Sight, said the new arrangement is designed to create more excitement for buyers. “Our buyers are looking for something new beyond apparel,” said Yoshioka, whose show attracted 70 brands and 1,077 visitors last September. The gift show, meanwhile, will feature 2,400 exhibitors and projects 200,000 visitors this time, greatly increasing attendance at Frontier.

Other collaborations between exhibitions are also taking place. Two shows under the direction of the Japan Fashion Week Organization are finding synergies. The International Fashion Fair (IFF), an apparel and accessories show, has teamed up with textile fair Japan Creation this year.

A group of new designers attended April’s edition of Japan Creation to select fabrics for their collections and will show their work in the Creators Village section of the next IFF, to be held July 22 to 24 at Tokyo Big Sight.

The last Japan Creation saw a 0.7 percent jump in visitors to 21,041 from the previous show, according to the fair’s organizers. The next edition of Japan Creation will be Oct. 7 to 9 at Tokyo Big Sight.

The ninth edition of government-subsidized Japan Fashion Week will wrap up the trade show calendar this year. Tokyo’s runway shows and presentations for the spring-summer 2010 season will take place from Oct. 19 to 25. The shows, dominated by emerging design talents, take place at the official Tokyo Midtown venue and other locations throughout the city.