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The girls, the heart, the virility and the ingenuity of fashion

by Misha Janette and Paul Mcinnes

Let’s hear it for the girls: Fashion, music and celebrities

The Girls Award, a twice-yearly event not unlike the already massively popular Tokyo Girls Collection (TGC), proves that the trend of daylong fashion festivals is picking up speed.

With its first event a year ago, The Girls Award is a daylong event packed with mini fashion shows, musical acts, modeling contests and celebrity performances. The most recent round, held April 29, saw guests Iconiq, SDN48, AAA and others perform between fashion shows given by local names such as Loveless, Guild Prime and Apuweiser-riche — brands that are considered more mature and sophisticated than those shown at rival TGC.

Unlike most fashion shows, the clothing is on-season, so items seen on the runway can typically be bought immediately at the stores.

Held at the Yoyogi National Gymnasium, tickets sell out fast to a crowd of about 15,000, mostly women in their late teens and 20s. Many attend to get real-life glimpses of their favorite magazine models such as Jun Hasegawa, Seira Kagami and the newest darling, Reina Triendl. Another huge draw is the event’s focus on bringing Asian celebrities to the stage, which has included performances by the wildly popular South Korean boy groups ZE:A, Kino and Shu-I.

The area around the oversize runway/stage is also open so that visitors can roam freely during shows and check out various booths promoting the newest beauty and diet goods

Tickets run from ¥5,500-¥7,500 each, and it’s best to reserve early. The next show will be held in September, so keep an eye on the website for more information.

(Misha Janette)

girls-award.com.

Tokyo revives its fashion crowd with a charity runway show

The fashion industry in Japan is a tight-knit community that has faced disappointment and compromise since the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake. After Japan Fashion Week was canceled, the delay of shows and exhibitions left many style junkies starving for a fix.

In helping fill that void, some fashion devotees saw an opportunity to raise money for charity.

Runway for Japan is a huge gala with a fashion show as its main event, and all its proceeds will be donated to Fukushima Prefecture relief efforts. Organized by fashion designer Yuma Koshino and a few of her model and industry friends, the show will feature more than 40 brands and 100 models who will be styled in looks created specially to inspire the crowd.

The brands are all Japanese and they run the gamut from revered veterans such as Hanae Mori and Hiroko Koshino to JFW mainstays including Mikio Sakabe and Gut’s Dynamite Cabarets. Indie darlings such as No, No, Yes! and Jun Okamoto will also be represented.

Other plans include a special live act, speeches from guests and on-site shopping opportunities. Taking place on May 15 at Bunka Fashion College in Shinjuku, Runway for Japan is a great opportunity to see high-end Japanese fashion brands all in one place, as well as support their contribution to a good cause. (M.J.)

Tickets are ¥3,000 for adults and ¥2,000 for students and will be for sale on-site. For more details, visit www.runwayforjapan.com.

Toga launches a virile look for the contemporary mature man

During this past month of Japanese fashion exhibitions, some of which were to replace the canceled Tokyo Fashion Week, there was one particular bright spot for men. It came from local label Toga, which debuted “Toga Virilis” — its first-ever full menswear line. The name Virilis is derived from the ancient Roman toga virilis, the white toga worn by Roman men on formal occasions once they reach adulthood. In this case it alludes to clothing for more mature men — the fashionably conscious who have the knack of pulling off a devil-may-care chic.

There are 19 looks in the collection, all consistent with the popular Toga aesthetic that mixes contrasting textiles to create unique details. For example, a pair of chino capri pants are tied at the waist with a lacquered leather drawstring, and if you roll up the cuffs, a silk paisley jacquard is revealed. There are also contrasting reversible jackets — casual on one side and with a dressy jacquard weave of a floral and army fatigue pattern on the other.

Toga has been operating for 11 years with a steadily growing worldwide fan base. Designer Yasuko Furuta now shows her womenswear line in Paris, and she says that she had been looking forward to showing this line in Tokyo for some time. “Because of the earthquake I didn’t know if I would get all of the samples in on time from our factory up north, but here they are,” she said. “We are all working together to keep the industry running.”

(M.J.)

For more information on Toga’s other items, visit www.toga.jp

Bershika: More fast fashion hits Shibuya’s highstreets

If your thirst for fashion leaves you gasping for cheaper shopping options, then try Bershka, the newest member of Shibuya’s central fashion district. Bershka is a fast-fashion chain whose parent company Inditex — the largest fashion company in the world — also runs the popular Zara. No expense was spared to make sure that Tokyo’s first Bershka store has the right look to set it apart from the more sophisticated Zara. A little cooler and more technologically savvy, it could be seen as Zara’s younger sibling

The four-story 1,000-sq.-meter store is impossible to miss. Translucent neon-green structures and giant LED panels displaying zippy and dizzying computer graphics decorate the facade. And inside, both the menswear and womenswear, aimed at a younger generation, are priced at around ¥6,000 or less.

Across the street is the six-story Forever21, the brand’s largest store in Asia, which opened at the end of 2010. And nearby is a massive H&M, which opened in the fall of 2009. Not to be outdone by these foreign chains, Japanese fast-fashion retailer Loaves also opened a boutique in March, just kitty-corner to Forever21. It seems that Japan, which was once the world’s capital of luxury brands, is fast becoming Asia’s most concentrated market for fast-fashion chains.

Bershka, 16-9 Udagawa-cho, Shibuya-ku; Tel: 03-3464-7721 www.bershka.com.

Dorothy’s dream come true

Omori, near Shinagawa in Tokyo, isn’t the kind of place you usually find a cutting-edge fashion and art boutique. For Ayano Nakayama, however, it’s the perfect location for her creative ventures. Away from popular shopping hubs, her boutique is a destination store for those with an interest in one-of-a-kind DIY style.

Nakayama, aka Gon, established her Dorothy Vacance brand a few years ago, and after the success of her online store and blog she decided to find a permanent home for her remake shirts, accessories and art projects. The store in Omori has three functions — a fashion boutique, gallery space and atelier. It carries her own label and other brands such as Arizona Dreaming and De Face, in addition to fabric sculptures, paintings and an installation titled “The Beginning of Dorothy’s Dream” by a group of artists from the Zenshi Gallery in Kanda.

This isn’t your run-of-the-mill re-make business, however, as Gon’s specialty is to take her friends’ fathers’ work shirts and reverse and re-make them with amazing results.

The shirts come in three styles — Ribbon, Triangle and Heart, with the option of adding embroidered messages in Japanese, English or Furbish (the cutesy language of Furby toys).

Dorothy Vacance is a good reason to visit Omori — possibly the new heartland of Japanese artistry. (Paul McInnes)

Dorothy Vacance, 3-2-16 Chuo, Ota-ku; (03) 6429 8692; closed Wed. and Thu.;dorothyvacance.com