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Isabelle Crossley
Oct 11, 2019
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Tokyo Fashion Week gears up for first season with Rakuten as head sponsor

Translated by
Isabelle Crossley
Oct 11, 2019

Tokyo Fashion Week will be held for seven days from October 14 to 20. Rakuten has taken over from Amazon Japan as the event’s main sponsor, and it has been renamed for its first season in collaboration with the e-commerce business as “Rakuten Fashion Week Tokyo”.

Key visual - Rakuten Fashion Week Tokyo

A total of 42 brands are scheduled to showcase collections on the runway and in the form of installations, of which 12 will be participating in the fashion week for the first time and eight are overseas-based brands. There are about 10 fewer brands on the calendar compared to last season, making for a more generous schedule.

Rakuten was named as the main sponsor of the fashion week on August 1. “Through this new partnership with JFWO, we hope to promote Japan’s fashion scene globally, empower the fashion industry, and provide attendees with an even more exciting experience,” said Mickey Mikitani, chairman and CEO of Rakuten. The programme for the upcoming edition of the fashion week, its first with Rakuten as the head sponsor, has a notable global focus. 

The season will launch with a runway show by Japanese rock star Yoshiki Hayashi ("Yoshiki")’s kimono brand Yoshikimono. This will be the third time that the brand has participated in Tokyo Fashion Week and will also be the first time the brand has launched a new collection in the past three years. Yoshiki, who has an international fan base, is the eldest son of a kimono tailor. Yoshikimono launched 10 years ago with the aim of a “fusion of tradition and innovation”. The brand “brings in an element of innovative design to the Japanese kimono industry which has experienced a slump in Japan and greatly contributes to the revitalisation of the industry as a whole.”

Yoshikimono - Spring-Summer2017 - Womenswear - Tokyo - © PixelFormula

The fashion week has also previously attracted brands such as Sacai and Undercover for its “At Tokyo” programme. Although this has ceased to run as part of the fashion week, continuing externally with Amazon, the upcoming edition of the fashion week will instead feature an alternative program, organised by the Japan Fashion Week Organization, which will invite Japanese brands that are active internationally. 

One of these is Tomo Koizumi, a label whose first fashion show was held in New York in February this year, attracting attention for its fantastical world view showcased through colourful ruffled dresses. Although the designer just recently presented his latest collection in New York in September, it will be presented again on the runway at Tokyo Fashion Week on October 16. In the same vein, 2017 LVMH Prize Special Prize winner Kozaburo Akasaka’s brand Kozaburo and Ryohei Kawanishi’s menswear brand Landlord New York will both showcase collections at the fashion week.

Another new international-facing feature of the fashion week will be the Fashion And Culture Exchange. Africa-Japan project, FACE.A-J. The project will be launched by Awa’Tori, an organisation with a strong interest in the African creative industry, and is sponsored by United Arrows. Hirofumi Kurino, United Arrows’ co-founder and senior adviser for creative direction, will direct the showcase while JFWO will participate in an advisory role. A group of designers from Japan and Africa will take part in both Tokyo Fashion Week and Lagos Fashion Week as part of the project.

Tomo Koizumi - Instagram

During Tokyo Fashion Week, the FACE.A-J showcase will take place at Starrise Tower at 9pm on October 16 and will feature presentations and discussions. The participating designers from Africa comprise 2019 LVMH Prize winner Thebe Magugu, LVMH Prize finalist Kenneth Ize, and Anyango Maphinga. From Japan, Teppei Fujita’s brand Sulvam, Wataru Tominaga, and Yoshikazu Yamagata’s brand Coyote will participate, taking the total number of designers to six.
Other brands that will participate in the upcoming season include Tatyana Parfionova from Russia and designer Hachi’s up-and-coming brand Balmung, which won the Tokyo New Designer Fashion Grand Prix last year.

The Fashion Prize of Tokyo, which counts Mame Kurogouchi and Auralee as former winners, and the Tokyo Fashion Award, which is jointly exhibited with the Paris Fashion Week showroom, will both announce their next winners on October 19. 

Amazon, which had sponsored the fashion week since 2016, had been promoting business to customer participation for general consumers with its segment At Tokyo, which was linked to its e-commerce platform. It seems Rakuten intends to continue this approach: this season, the public will be invited to attend nine brands’ runway shows, including Tomo Koizumi's, and the official after-parties. 

Rakuten is working to strengthen the fashion segment of its business with the fashion shopping site Rakuten Brand Avenue and its online shopping mall, Rakuten Ichiba. At a conference held last month, the business announced its new concept, Rakuten Fashion, as part of its fashion business. Concerning Rakuten’s contract as the main sponsor of Tokyo Fashion Week, the business confirmed its commitment, commenting: “It doesn’t make sense to end it in only a short period on time. We plan to continue for at least 10 years… In future, we will encourage overseas brands to participate.” 


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