Style & Design

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tokyo: young blood

by Misha Janette

Special To The Japan Times

Ten years have now passed since Tokyo first strutted its stuff on the international catwalk and yet the metropolis still lacks the pulling power of rivals such as Milan, New York and Paris. As if the domestic industry didn’t have enough on its plate, the wheels threatened to come off the spring/summer 2015 edition of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tokyo even before it got off the ground, with Typhoon Vongfong bearing down on the capital at the beginning of the week. Fortunately, the storm turned out to be something of a damp squib as far as Tokyo was concerned, giving those in the industry the opportunity to showcase their collections in the clear skies that followed.

This season’s special guest was enigmatic British actress Tilda Swinton, who has been working with sponsor Mercedes-Benz on an advertising campaign in recent months. Accompanied by renowned Colombian designer Haider Ackermann, Swinton’s appearance in the front row of the Hanae Mori collection designed by Yu Amatsu upstaged the swaths of satin that flowed on the runway. Swinton is perhaps the biggest celebrity Tokyo fashion week has ever seen, and her appearance on Oct. 13 generated an air of expectation for the week.

However, the pomp and glamour that Swinton brought to the capital disappeared out the back door along with the British actress. Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tokyo has in the past tended to focus on cardigans instead of couture and this trend was more apparent than ever this season, with a range of collections that not even ordinary people would sniff at. Tastes in Tokyo have shifted away from high-end brands to high-street fashion, an adjustment that other fashion capitals around the world are eyeing nervously.

Tokyo fashion week was also hit hard by the defection of two more critically acclaimed brands to the Paris show this year, with haute hybrid Christian Dada and conceptual label Anrealage jumping ship. Conversely, Tokyo is aiming to become something of a springboard for aspiring young designers overseas who wish to hone their craft on a smaller scale before hitting the more competitive catwalks in Milan, Paris, New York or London. Non-Japanese brands such as Sretsis, Johan Ku and 99%is in particular are taking advantage of the situation, bringing international flair to Tokyo while at the same time catching the attention of industry watchers worldwide.

Worth special mention is House of Holland, a British brand that is popular among Tokyo street-style aficionados. The label reprised its recent London Fashion Week collection in Tokyo, and attracted a stylish audience that represented the capital well. The show was produced in collaboration with shipping company DHL, which intends to join up with House of Holland again next March in an attempt to expand the business a little more (and perhaps even inspire a few domestic labels). Tokyo fashion week is not focused solely on business, however, and closed on Oct. 18 with an event titled the “Tweed Run,” a cycling trip around the city that attracted more than 100 people dressed to the nines for a morning ride. Interestingly, the classic tweed suits, pocket squares and polished loafers worn by participants on the ride appeared far more fashionable than some of the modern duds witnessed during the week.

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