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Young designer opportunities, plus new lines for older brands

by Misha Janette and Samuel Thomas

Designers, get ready to get crazy

The Asia Awards is one of the best contests to discover new creative talent in fashion, music, design and art — and the deadline for entries is coming up fast. The competition is a part of Tokyo Designers Week, the city-wide design festival to be held Oct. 25-Nov. 3.

The theme this year is “My Avant-Garde,” and anyone under age of 30, from anywhere in the world, is invited to enter. It’s a good opportunity for designers to get as crazy as they want the world to see. Winners will have their creations shown at the Salone Internazionale del Mobile 2015, be awarded generous cash prizes, and have their work displayed at this year’s Tokyo Designers Week event space — not to mention get the opportunity to strut their stuff in Tokyo. (Disclosure: this writer is on the TDW fashion committee.) (MJ)

www.tdwa.com/2014/join/en_young_creator_fashion.html

A spoonful of Aruta Soup

Young artist Aruta Soup is the current toast of the Tokyo fashion scene. He is riding high on the success of his recently launched collaborative brand MeeWee Dinkee, which is produced with designer Torico and anarchic musical engineers Maywa Denki.

Now the artist’s confrontational cute mix of subversive (and potentially copyright-infringing) cartoon imagery is set to have its most public airing yet with an exhibition to mark the launch of Aruta Soup’s first art book “Third Eye.” Held at the Sunday Issue Gallery in Shibuya, from June 10 to 15, the fittingly titled “Black Joke” sardonic showing will climax on its final day with what promises to be a performance-meets-fashion-show extravaganza from MeeWee Dinkee. (ST)

“Black Joke” at Sunday Issue Gallery runs June 10-15 at Sunday Issue Gallery, 2F Mitakenomura Bldg., 1-17-1 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo. www.arutasoup.com

Discord is good for Yohji Yamamoto

Japanese fashion that can compete with the luxury powerhouses of the West are few and far between. Hoping to fill some of that void is the new small-goods brand Discord, launched as a joint effort by the Isetan-Mitsukoshi Holdings corporation and Yohji Yamamoto.

The 52-piece collection is well-rounded and includes shoes, bags, wallets and scarves. Many of the scarves, which are available in sizes for both men and women, are black and printed with macro shots of white flowers by photographer Hiro Arakawa. When it comes to promoting Japan-made quality, the brand is serious. For its fabrics, it employs traditional yuzen dye specialist techniques that are usually reserved for kimono.

“I don’t want Japan to just be known for manga and anime” said Yamamoto at the Isetan Dept. Store launch in May. (MJ)

www.yohjiyamamoto.co.jp/discord

Take a Weekend trip to Ginza

Let your hair down for Italian pret-a-porter brand Maxmara’s Weekend, which opened its first flagship in Ginza on June 6. The Weekend line is one of five off-shoot brands from Maxmara and was launched back in 1983, but this is its first stand-alone store in Tokyo.

Living up to the “weekend” concept, the collection is a more casual and lifestyle-driven counterpart to the main line. Think colorful and retro easy-to-pair separates and a full lineup of accessories — all at prices that give you a little more room to breathe.

The Weekend store is a two-story boutique with interiors designed to resemble that of a feminine Italian house and has antique furniture and Fornasetti table settings displayed throughout. (MJ)

Maxmara Weekend, 4-2-2 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo; 03-5159-6645. www.weekendmaxmara.com

Design Festa has a new school of talent

The bi-annual celebration of creative culture Design Festa has outgrown the vast Big Sight convention center, having attracted more than 11,000 fashion designers, artists and creators to its last event.

In order to give everyone who wants to exhibit a fighting chance, the Design Festa team is now launching the All Student Art Event: Gakuten, a sub-event that, as the name suggests, is open to students enrolled in any educational institution worldwide. That means kids from elementary school, right up to those at universities and vocational colleges. The Gakuten is still accepting applications, so if you want to join in, now’s the time. (ST)

All Student Art Event: Gakuten at Tokyo Big Sight takes place on Aug. 9 and 10. To apply, visit www.gakuten.jp/en