The Japanese subsidiary of the American online retailer has inked a deal to sponsor the Tokyo shows over a “multiyear” arc of time, the duration of which has not been disclosed, along with the financial details of the agreement. The sponsorship is the latest fashion-related venture Amazon has embarked on. Beyond its ever-growing e-commerce offerings in apparel, it already sponsors the men’s shows in New York as well as India Fashion Week.
Amazon Japan replaces Mercedes-Benz as the headline sponsor of the event, which features runway shows from designers based in Japan and Asia. The car manufacturer didn’t renew its sponsorship agreement when it expired this past spring, according to Tokyo Fashion Week organizers. A spokeswoman for Mercedes-Benz did not respond to a request for comment on why its partnership with Tokyo Fashion Week is ending.
In 2010, the Japan Fashion Week Organization announced that it had inked a partnership with IMG Fashion, with the goal of bringing in new corporate sponsors and boosting the week’s international profile. The Mercedes-Benz sponsorship was a notable result of this partnership, as is the Amazon sponsorship.
The next installment of Tokyo Fashion Week, which will be re-branded Amazon Fashion Week Tokyo, will run Oct. 17 to 23 at the Shibuya Hikarie complex and Omotesando Hills shopping mall. Last season’s edition featured a special appearance by Gwen Stefani.
Jasper Cheung, president of Amazon Japan, said the details of how the partnership will materialize have yet to be finalized. But the executive said the possibilities are extensive and include helping Japanese brands break into the international marketplace. Amazon could leverage its websites to introduce labels to “millions and millions” of new customers around the world, he said.
“We have actually built a lot of infrastructure in our fashion business, including our photo studio, the photo process, how to actually make it easy for [brands] to take their merchandise and garments and make them salable online. That whole process can actually make it very, very simple for independent designers,” Cheung said.
James Peters, vice president of Amazon Fashion in Japan, said the company plans to draw on that experience while also coming up with new ways in which it can support Japanese designers. He described the country’s design scene as “incredibly innovative, very fast, and very, very cool.”
Masahiko Miyake, the board chairperson of Japan Fashion Week Organization, said he hopes to be able to draw on Amazon’s experience and expertise in the online realm in order to increase the level of familiarity people have with Tokyo Fashion Week.
Peters said he thinks there are plenty of opportunities for synergy between the two organizations moving forward.
“The designer uses innovation to come up with something and then through that innovation they go to the customer. And I think Amazon is uniquely the same. We start with the customer and then we innovate toward them to make whatever they need,” he said. “I think those two things work really well together in this partnership.”