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Mercedes-Benz fashion week vs. homemade couture

by and

Fashion Week gets peachy

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tokyo is with us for another season, giving us a glimpse of what fall and winter is going to look like, despite the fact that the temperature is only just starting to climb for spring. This season, the Shibuya Hikarie building venue focuses on not just Japan but East Asia as a whole, with a bevy of talent from all over the region joining local designers.

A big surprise entry to the schedule is high-profile lingerie giant Peach John, which promises a “vintage chic” collection that it says will prove lingerie has a place in the fashion world. Given that Victoria’s Secret shows have lured a mainstream audience to pay attention to the insular official fashion events — not to mention attracted unusually generous media coverage — this could be the bridge Tokyo needs to boost Japan’s interest in fashion week.

Cynicism aside, this may be Peach John’s first full runway show in 10 years, but they do have remarkable form in this field, so you can expect something with clout.

tokyo-mbfashionweek.com

Homemade couture

Those preferring to take a stand against the fashion-week system, would do well to look to Yuma Yamamoku’s cult label Nusumigui and the My Couture, My Custom popup store and workshop that runs through March 15 at Nihombashi Mitsukoshi department store.

Brands like Nusumigui have been snapping at the heels of the Japanese fashion establishment for some time. Ever since graduating from Mikio Sakabe and Yoshikazu Yamagata’s Coconogacco alternative fashion school, Yamamoku has been offering clothes diametrically opposed to the world of fast fashion. Nusumigui garments have a homemade aesthetic and are sold on the brand’s own terms using an unusual business model where shoppers are offered customization at the store, or are encouraged to add finishing touches themselves.

Yamamoku and other similarly minded designers, including Kyoto’s Hinaya and embroiderers Kaori Shimazu, will be at the workshop to help customers up-cycle fabrics into clothing.

Bringing the customer into the design process is gaining traction worldwide — if runway couture seems unoriginal, why not make your own?

My Couture, My Custom runs until March 15. 2F Nihombashi Mitsukoshi Main Store, 1-4-1 Nihonbashi-Muromachi, Chuo-ku Tokyo. bit.ly/nusumigui

Runway to retail

If the dream of the young fashion student is to see their work on the runway, then for newcomers to Tokyo Fashion Week it is to take their work to retail — first at stockists and then to the goal of opening a gleaming flagship.

During the early 2010s such aspirations seemed out of reach for many until audacious brands Masanori Morikawa’s Christian Dada and Hiromichi Ochiai’s Facetasm proved anything was possible with their Harajuku flagships. Now, ETW.Vonneguet has opened a Shibuya flagship, an achievement all the more remarkable given the youth of the brand and its use of 3-D modeling instead of traditional patterning — an experimental technique that normally would keep a brand out of the commercial mainstream.

As an example of the technical genius, ETW.Vonneguet’s designer — who goes by the moniker Olga — recently worked with adhesive producer Cemedine to create wearable LED-infused fabrics that are far from mainstream commercial viability. They may, however, be daring enough to still make the jump from runway to retail.

ETW.Vonneguet: 3F Parco Part 1 Shibuya, 15-1 Udagawacho, Shibuya, Tokyo. www.etw-vngt.com