Vintage graduation

CEO Tobe Naoaki’s boutique Grimoire has been responsible for so many important fashion moments in Tokyo’s recent fashion history. Even those who have never wandered into its loving re-imagining of turn-of-the-century European fairy-tale style will have most likely seen one of its acolytes either on the streets or online. And those fans have gone by many names over the years from dolly-kei (inspired by vintage dolls) to mori-kei (forest girl). What is all the more remarkable about Grimoire is that it is a cult of fashion built on second-hand clothes, reworked on occasion, but mostly just brilliantly repackaged by the shop staff’s styling and the overall direction of a store that has long courted youth hungry for expression on a budget.

Now, seven years since its founding, Grimoire’s original clients are starting to grow up, and accordingly Tobe is catering for the slightly older generation with a new venture: Grimoire Beryl. The new store opened on the fourth floor of the same Shibuya building as the original Grimoire last month and is stocked with garments aimed at customers in their 30s and 40s. Still pleasing those on a budget, Grimoire Beryl echoes a graduation of vintage styling that may just help second-hand clothing break free from the stigma it once suffered in mainstream fashion.

Grimoire Beryl: 4F Tellus Jinnan, Jinnan, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo; 03-3780-5570; grimoire.jp

Is the tourism inbound boom on its way out?

Cities always have plenty of residents who like to complain about the influx of tourists, and Tokyo is no exception — even if those complaints are barely heard over the sound of ringing tills as visitors strip shelves of latest trends and crowd the streets. The city coffers really owe a lot to tourists and it’s too easy to take their contribution for granted and assume the current status quo will hold until the Tokyo Olympics and beyond.

The Japan Department Store Association already begs to differ. Presently helmed by Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings president Hiroshi Onishi, the association announced late last month that inbound tourism spending at department stores has dropped by a mammoth 16.6 percent for May to around ¥13.4 billion compared to figures from the same period last year.

Hardest hit overall are the fashion and garment sectors, with a 7.8 percent drop in total sales. The statistics reveal that visitors are moving away from brand names and gravitating toward a focus on quality. It’s a trend that puts them closer to domestic consumers but not one that makes for bulging carrier bags.

Though the drops are large, we need to remember that beyond consumer tendencies, the rocketing yen and increasing import regulations abroad are making shopaholic spending unsustainable. The key now is to promote fashion that brands Japan rather than branding Japan as Asia’s mall.

Tokyo Fashion Week regains its title

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tokyo is dead, long live Tokyo Fashion Week!

The announcement of this name change may seem trivial, especially considering that beyond the titular sponsors, precious few have actually uttered the full title. However, the change or, more accurately, the restoration of the name, is significant.

Needless to say, the loss of Mercedes-Benz will leave a considerable dent in the event’s finances, which no doubt will need to be filled by one of the other existing sponsors (most bets are on MasterCard getting its wallet out). Other fallout will include the loss of the Mercedes-Benz Connection venue in Roppongi and the omission of a few display cars.

But this is an opportunity for the week to reinvent itself. The new logo liberates Tokyo from the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week portfolio, which may allow it to develop its own character, free from comparison with the likes of Istanbul and Berlin.

We will have to wait until October to see the new face of the event, but the industry and its fans should be getting excited as the application period for participating brands draws to a close on July 22.


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