Akiko Aoki RTW fall 2017

TOKYO — Asia’s most prominent fashion week wrapped up its six-day run on Saturday, bringing to a close a week of fashion shows, installations, music events, parties and store events.

The fall edition was the second season in which Amazon was the headlining sponsor, and the first in which the e-commerce company actively supported more designers and brands to join in the events. With its newly launched At Tokyo program, Amazon backed three brands to show during fashion week for the first time, and also gave them a platform to sell their products online to customers worldwide. James Peters, vice president of Amazon Fashion in Japan, said the company will continue to sell this season’s three brands on its site, while at the same time looking for three new brands to support next season.

Overall, the reaction to Amazon’s increased involvement was positive, with buyers and journalists noting that there seemed to be an increase in excitement and a more palpable energy this season compared to last October.

“Amazon is putting in a lot of effort in terms of p.r., with parties and getting people to go outside [to the different events], which I think is a really good thing,” said Shogo Terazawa, a women’s wear buyer for Isetan Mitsukoshi. “Amazon also offered sales support, allowing people to buy products online from the same brands right after seeing the shows, which is also very good.”

Peters has said Amazon is ready to offer a platform for see-now-buy-now whenever the brands are ready to make that step, but not everyone is convinced that is the way forward.

“There was so much talk about [see-now-buy-now] and then nothing really happened, but what I do think you’ll see more of is, designers are finding a way to have consumers participate in their shows and their presentations in a way that they haven’t before, and have tried to find ways to allow for retail support during fashion season,” said Catherine Bennett, senior vice president and managing director at IMG Fashion Events & Properties. “So if not necessarily see-now-buy-now, there’s some kind of consumer component to the event. So I think you’ll see more so that than actual see-now-buy-now.”

This season was the first time in three years that Bennett has come to Tokyo for fashion week, and she said she noticed a “much renewed sense of energy throughout the week, much more participation throughout the city, and it felt much more vibrant and alive.”

Her sentiment was echoed by many attendees, although some people worried whether just holding more events is enough on its own.

“I feel like the desire for brands to want to get their message across during fashion week has become stronger, but that needs to be one part of a course of events. If that doesn’t happen, then nothing much will come of it, but if it does happen, I think it will be great,” said Motofumi “Poggy” Kogi, director of United Arrows & Sons. “Shops are also doing events during fashion week, such as the sneaker shop Atmos, and Nike did an AirMax exhibition at a museum. So there are various things happening during the same period, but I would like to see that done as part of a bigger picture.”

Another noticeable change in this season’s Tokyo Fashion Week was the presence of more brands from other Asian countries. The organizers of fashion week are supporting this effort by inviting brands from Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam to participate.

Cong Tri Nguyen, who is based in Ho Chi Minh City, was one of the invited designers both this season and a year ago. He said that this time he noticed the production and promotion aspects of fashion week were more modern and professional than they were the first time he participated. He said that if he comes again, one thing he would like to do differently is to hold an exhibition immediately after his show so that people can see the products close up right after they come off the runway. He said it would also be interesting to see textile manufacturers exhibiting at a fashion-week-related event, so that designers can see the latest fabrics available.

Nguyen feels like Tokyo Fashion Week would do well to continue internationalizing, as it would add more variety to the offering. Bennett also hopes to see the number of international brands continue to increase.

“I think it makes the week more interesting and exciting for everybody that comes,” she said. “I think it helps attract buyers and press from international markets, which always helps. I mean, the goal of doing this really is to help designers sell their clothes and find support in new markets, so I think anything that helps that happen for any designer is great and can just contribute to the fabric of a week. I hope we see that.”

Despite the increase in energy, Terazawa said he wouldn’t be picking up any new Tokyo brands this season. And while his overall budget has grown, he said the amount he’ll use for Japanese brands has remained about the same. Still, he did see potential in some of this season’s newer brands.

“Doublet is very good,” he said, referring to one of this year’s Tokyo Fashion Award winners. “Yohei Ohno is very young but is working very hard and his sales are increasing. I think he’ll be interesting to watch.”

Both Terazawa and Kogi are on the jury for the Tokyo Fashion Award, which selects six brands each year that are seen as having international potential. For his part, Kogi said he wants to do what he can to support the winners by placing orders and selling their brands in his store.

The fall season included 52 runway shows or installations, the most ever for Tokyo Fashion Week. There were 721 registered buyers, including 307 from some 29 countries outside of Japan. The majority of international buyers represented China, the U.S. and Hong Kong.

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