WOMEN ONLY: Gianni Versace Japan has opened a Versace store exclusively for its women’s lines in Tokyo’s Roppongi Hills. The two-level store has a total floor space of 2,350 square feet and highlights not only the main Versace line, but also Versus and Versace Jeans Couture products.
The two floors are in dark granite accented by orange glass lines and are connected by a spiral staircase. Display fixtures are in fine glass set against the white plastered walls. The new store increases the number of Versace shops in Japan to 21, which includes two in Tokyo, as many in Osaka and 17 in-shops in department stores throughout Japan. In Asia, Versace boutiques are present in such markets as Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, Malaysia and Thailand.
Merchandise on sale includes handbags, clothes and high jewelry. Watches are in the price range of $1,180, or 130,000 yen, to $2,727, or 300,000 yen at current exchange. An exception is that two men’s items, Versace neckties and sunglasses, are sold on the first floor. Neckties are priced at $136, or 15,000 yen, to $182, or 20,000 yen. — Tsukasa Furukawa
JEWELRY HEISTS: In what’s becoming an annual occurrence, more than $1.8 million, or 23 million Hong Kong dollars, worth of jewelry and gems was reported stolen during the Hong Kong Jewelry and Watch Fair. The incidents began the day before the fair when two South Korean businessmen reported almost $23,275, or HK$300,000, worth of jewelry missing from their hotel room in Tsimshatsui. On the last day of the fair, two other jewelers reported their hotel room ransacked, with $31,033, or HK$400,000, worth of jewelry and $1,000, or HK$13,000, in cash missing.
Inside the Convention Centre, two thefts were reported as well. In the first incident, an Israeli merchant said that a tray containing $38,790, or HK$500,000, worth of diamonds was stolen from his stall at the fair. On the same day, a Belgian jeweler reported that four diamonds worth $21,722, or HK$280,000, were taken.
The crimes are nothing new in Hong Kong, which authorities fear is considered a “soft touch” by international jewel thieves. There is also speculation that unscrupulous dealers might be committing insurance fraud. Whatever the case, security at the event was stepped up considerably. Likewise, insurance rates are escalating for those wishing to exhibit in Hong Kong. Lloyds of London, for example, is tripling its fee for exhibitors at the fair, which is considered the most important of its kind in the region. — Constance Haisma-Kwok
OLYMPIAN KENZO: Kenzo Takada has been commissioned by the Japan Olympic Committee (JOC) to design the official uniforms for the Japanese team participating in the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Production will be handled gratis by Fast Retailing Co., best known for its Uniqlo casual brand, the same company that provided the official uniforms free of charge for the Japanese Olympic team in the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City.
The uniforms are expected to be unveiled in May of next year. “Show Your Colors” will be the design concept, a challenge to creating a new breed of uniforms that will combine “individuality” and “uniform,” Tadashi Yanai, chairman of Fast Retailing, told a press conference at Akasaka Prince Hotel in Tokyo. The uniforms, Kenzo indicated, will not all be of the same design, but will involve several variations using different materials and color schemes. —T.F.
BANDING TOGETHER: Seven major industry associations under the Japan Textile Federation covering practically all segments of textile manufacturing from spinning and weaving to knitting and finishing have announced a decision to form an all-industry textile export promotion body to be called Japan Textile Export Organization.
The new organization, which is expected to be launched in October, comprises the Chemical Fibers Association, a national organization of man-made fiber producers; the Textile Exporters’ Association, and the Japan Spinners’ Association, a national organization of cotton spinners and weavers as well wool and other textile manufacturers’ groups.
The project is supported by the Japan External Trade Organization (Jetro) and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) which are taking part in the new organization as observer members. Expansion of textile exports is a major issue for Japan’s textile industry, the preparatory committee for the project said. — T.F.