The Tokyo fashion scene continues to lead the pack in fresh streetwear trends and international haute prowess, at least if the collections unveiled at Amazon Fashion Week Tokyo in mid-October are anything to go by.
Online retailer Amazon finally flexed its muscles this season with the presentation of its “AT Tokyo” program, inviting some of the most famous or buzzed-about brands in Japan to the catwalk and selling exclusive items online.
The womenswear lineup this season was pretty impressive, featuring a Sacai/Undercover joint show and Toga, among others. Attracting Sacai to present its latest collection was a real scoop. The label is arguably one of the most sought-after brands in high fashion, with Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld even anointing the brand’s designer, Chitose Abe, as the next big thing.
Meanwhile, Undercover designer Jun Takahashi has been skipping Tokyo’s fashion week to showcase his collections in Paris for 15 years. His spring/summer collection was noteworthy, with the garments worn by “twins” in the style of “The Shining” and featuring designs inspired by the work of artist Cindy Sherman.
Takahashi’s collections are often presented in a dark dream-like state, and his spring/summer show was sure to send goosebumps through the crowd. Takahashi is one of the best “storytellers of fashion” that exist in the industry and it was a treat to see him back on his home turf.
Toga designer Yasuko Furuta celebrated the label’s 20th anniversary with a collection that was shown at the National Art Center, Tokyo. Although Furuta usually presents her designs in London, she delivered a completely different lineup in Tokyo. The garments were poignant homages to everything that makes Toga unique, and featured elements such as abstract cut-outs, sleek silhouettes and androgynous styling.
At the other end of the Tokyo fashion spectrum sits streetwear, which has been finding its way to the catwalk in recent years. Street-style icon and DJ Mademoiselle Yulia took the kind of chaos typically found in Tokyo and transplanted it onto Growing Pains‘ second collection as a mashup of ideas, including giant prairie sleeves, poly vinyl coats, pop-inspired graphics and even martial arts gear.
Akiko Aoki was arguably the best new label presenting at Tokyo fashion week. Her clothes tick all the boxes of what young style-sensitive women in Japan now want — items that are edgy without being provocative, all the while bathed in dusty pastels. Aoki presented a series of pink creations that included bondage-inspired details that had the audience’s smartphones working overtime to catch every item on display.
Another new label during the week was Memuse, which was produced by idol group Dempagumi.inc member Risa Aizawa. As a former Akihabara maid, her collection incorporated many maid-uniform motifs as well as anime-inspired looks that would fit right in with a cosplayer’s wardrobe. “My collection is designed to be everyday clothing to wear in battle,” Aizawa says.
Veteran designer and self-professed otaku Mikio Sakabe, who is an adviser for Memuse, presented a collection that was along similar lines. Sakabe has the rare ability to transform fantasy into reality, pushing the boundaries of Japanese avant-garde in the 21st century. He says he attempted to make authentic kimonos for this collection but found it to be such a daunting task that he instead paid homage through traditional sewing techniques and fabrics.
Speaking of the avant-garde, Malaysian designer Moto Guo unveiled a standout collection, presenting the label’s highly “feminine” looks on male models. The genderless movement — consisting of gender-neutral clothing — is one of the most refreshing trends to come out of Tokyo in recent years. Sakabe initiated the movement, but it hasn’t taken long for the style to become normalized enough to be cute instead of shocking. Let’s wait and see if the rest of the world agrees.