Amazon boosts global appeal of Tokyo Fashion Week with new participants and international brands
After the Big Four fashion weeks, a newly energized Tokyo Fashion Week: Spring/Summer 2018 season will kick off for six days on Monday 16, featuring over a score of new designers and the return to the Japanese capital of some local stars. It is the third season for the event, organised by Japan Fashion Week Organization, since Amazon took over as its main sponsor. The week will be intensive with 55 participants, of which 21 are showing for the first time, and nine are from overseas. Of particular interest will be the big name shows, including Sacai and Undercover’s exclusive collaboration on the “At Tokyo” project for Amazon Fashion.
As per one of its slogans, Tokyo fashion week is widely considered “the gateway for success in the world for new designers.” Most of the big Japanese names like Comme des Garçons, Issey Miyake, and Yohji Yamamoto are Paris Fashion Week regulars and many young designers move their presentations to the “Big Four” cities after finding success.
This season, two young designers have made a break for Milan. LVMH Prize semi-finalist Teppei Fujita presented the latest collection of his men’s label Sulvam there in June supported by Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana, holding his “final show” in Tokyo in March. Ujoh’s designer Mitsuru Nishizaki, who received a special invitation to show as part of the Armani Teatro in March 2016, made his official calendar debut in Milan Fashion Week this September.
However, change is in the air in Tokyo, and this season has attracted the interest of nine foreign groups and labels. Among these participants will be the collective designers Global Fashion Collective presented by Vancouver Fashion Week (VFW) and Fashion Hong Kong. Global Fashion Collective, an expansion from Vancouver Fashion Week, supporting talents from across Canada and Asia, will showcase nine designers’ Spring / Summer 2018 collections on Friday October 20, while Fashion Hong Kong by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council will present collections from four labels on Tuesday 17.
Hong Kong designer Harrison Wang intends to reach a larger international clientele and footprint in the future through his presentation. Explaining, via a questionnaire on the website, why he had chosen Tokyo as the venue, he said, “Japan fashion is a very mature and highly diversified market. I want to see the reaction to my brand at this fashion week.”
As a special feature to further enrich the upcoming edition, Amazon Fashion’s “At Tokyo” program will collaborate with five internationally known Japanese brands. Takahiromiyashita The Soloist, created by former Number (N)ine designer Takahiro Miyashita, who regularly presents his collection in Paris, will take to the catwalk on Monday 16, followed by a show from Tokyo-based brand Toga the next day. Toga, founded by Yasuko Furuta in 1997, began presenting its collection at Paris Fashion Week and London Fashion Week in October 2005 and 2014 respectively. For the brand’s first show in Tokyo in 12 years, Furuta has selected a so far unnamed museum to showcase her collection. Third in the program’s lineup will be Tokyo-street-based brand BlackEyePatch, who hope to “express ‘Tokyo’ from the view of BlackEyePatch” with their runway show on Wednesday 18.
Amongst the program’s other participants, the most anticipated show will surely be that of Sacai and Undercover. Dubbed “10.20 Sacai / Undercover”, the show will take place on Friday 20. The exclusive collaboration was created at the suggestion of Undercover designer Jun Takahashi, who commented that he wants this show “to be a day that remains in history”.
Of the collaboration, Sacai’s influential designer Abe said, “I clearly still remember the shock when I saw “6.1 The Men” (the 1991 joint presentation between Yohji Yamamoto Pour Homme and Comme des Garçons) up close 26 years ago… While I’ve been thinking to do something new in Tokyo where I live when Jonio-kun (Mr. Jun Takahashi) addressed me and I decided to participate in the Amazon Fashion ‘At Tokyo’ program. I think Undercover is the best partner to deliver the same shock that I experienced before to as many people as possible. Together with everyone, I am looking forward to seeing the scenery I have not seen yet.”
Unlike practically every fashion show in the Big Four, where invitations are only issued by the fashion houses themselves, Amazon will invite hundreds of fashion and design school students “aspiring to be the next generation of fashion designers in Japan” to these special shows. Amazon has not revealed the size of its financial support to this season. However, it is actively reinforcing its B to C approach - the “At Tokyo” online store controlled by Amazon will feature special items from the brands from October 16 onwards. Moreover, the the American etailing giant previously retailed a selection of pieces from collections by three on-schedule designers last season.
A number of emerging labels also merit attention. Elza Winkler, founded in 2014 by Eiichiro Nakai, will stage its catwalk debut on Wednesday 18. Nakai, who started his career as a pattern cutter in Yohji Yamamoto, moved to the UK in 2011. Taking up a role at Alexander McQueen, Sarah Burton personally placed him in charge of the tailored jackets and dresses, entrusting him with their creation for the collections. Noted by its precise pattern cutting, Elza Winkler offers classic elegance with an avant-garde touch.
Fledgling name Hyke, who announced the launch of new collaboration line with the North Face this week, is presenting its collection for the second time with an installation. Founded by design duo Hideaki Yoshihara and Yukiko Ode in 2013, the heritage-inspired label is developing globally with numerous capsule collections in link-ups with international brands such as Adidas Originals and Mackintosh. Similarly staging her second collection this season will be Yulia, DJ and fashion icon, with a runway show for her brand Growing Pains. She recently hosted a pop-up shop for Fenty Puma by Rihanna in Tokyo.
Finally, making a catwalk come-back in Tokyo will be G.V.G.V, who boasts past collaborations with Uniqlo and Opening Ceremony; and Mikio Sakabe, 2016 LVMH Prize semi-finalist.
Multiplying its commercial partners for the next edition to boost consumer interest, Amazon has also linked up with official media sponsor Elle to liven up the party. Tequila Patron will launch two limited-edition design bottles for the occasion.
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