Tokyo Fashion Week strengthens its industry and consumer appeal
After the “Big Four” fashion week marathon, now it’s Tokyo’s time to shine. Amazon Fashion Week Tokyo 2019 A/W will kick off on Monday 18 March, running for six days with 52 collections on the schedule. The sixth season backed by Amazon Fashion will be rich with young talent but also peppered by collection re-shows from globally established brands including Koché, Anrealage, Beautiful People and Ujoh.
Often criticised for a schedule too late in the season to successfully attract international buyers, Tokyo Fashion Week has long been considered an incubator for emerging local designers intending to graduate to bigger stages abroad after their domestic debuts. But now, with Amazon Fashion’s highly BtoC-focused approach, the week is transforming into a platform to provide brands increased visibility both to consumers and professionals.
To celebrate the opening, the Japan Fashion Week Organization, governing body of the Japanese fashion week, is hosting a double-barrelled event consisting of a discussion session and a fashion presentation. In addition to editors and buyers, this “Special Presentation 2019AW” will invite 200 consumers to familiarise them with the fashion week and the industry. Emerging Japanese brand Noma T.D. will also show its collection.
New to this season is the inclusion of several regulars from the European fashion week circuit: On Thursday, Koché, a French label which just presented its latest collection, including a Nike collaboration, in Paris this February, will hold a runway show in Tokyo for the second time since 2016.
“It should be a really playful event,” designer Christelle Kocher told FashionNetwork.com backstage at the Paris show. “There will be a lot of news and collaborations to announce around then.” For her fall 2019 collection showcased in Paris, she collaborated with two Japanese wool textile makers to create some 25 items, assisted by a designer-supplier matching initiative by the JFWO.
Anrealage and Beautiful People will also stage Tokyo runways, following their official Paris shows. In addition, Milan regular Mitsuru Nishizaki’s Ujoh is coming back to showcase a capsule collection with an Italian fabric maker under the label “Saldarini Cashmere Flakes by Ujoh”. All are planning to reveal new items not yet seen on the European catwalks.
The reasons behind the re-shows in Tokyo may be varied, but certainly stem in part from the week’s appeal to well-informed customers. “[It’s] to cultivate the mystery,” explained Kocher of her decision, while Anrealage’s Kunihiko Morinaga underlined the importance of “presenting both in Tokyo and in Paris for a better expression of our creative vision.” He added: “I’m doing something totally different in Tokyo.” The brand will also invite 100 consumers to its show.
Joining the week for the first time, 14 new participants this season will include six finalists for the Tokyo Fashion Award 2019, amongst them Anei; Cinoh; Jieda; Nobuyuki Matsui; Postelegant and Rainmaker. They are all staging their first runway shows on the final day. In addition, the more established Fashion Prize of Tokyo winner Auralee, which staged a presentation in Paris earlier in March, is to make its Tokyo debut with an installation.
There will also be a number of Asian newcomers; Shushu/Tong from China, Wisharawish from Thailand, Danjyo Hiyoji and Eridani from Indonesia.
To boost its industry appeal, JFWO is also partnering with data analytics firm Launchmetrics to promote the fashion week this season. The event will be featured on GPS Radar, the members-only community for fashion professionals by Launchmetrics, and at the same time Launchmetrics software will be provided to participating designers to manage shows and offer improved experiences to guests.
Despite the highly attractive lineup, this season will eschew Amazon Fashion’s see-now-buy-now initiative “At Tokyo,” a significant source of support both for creative and commercial visibility, for the first time since the week’s launch. The news will come as a disappointment to the many designers that have sought to take part in the project since the event’s hugely successful Sacai/Undercover joint show in 2017. No announcement has been made on the subject by Amazon or JFWO.
Amazon Fashion was said to have fastidiously selected the brands and products for sale at the event, and supported brands with a budget estimated at some several hundred thousand dollars every season. The decision has fuelled speculation that the company is looking to the next stage of its BtoC approach.
Since the arrival of the American e-commerce giant as its main sponsor, Tokyo Fashion Week is continuing its trajectory towards becoming a sui generis international event. What’s more, it is developing the necessary commercial acuity which it formerly lacked. Its potential to become a hub for dialogue between brands and consumers, beyond the traditional audience of editors and professional buyers, appears stronger now than ever.
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