Style & Design

Amazon Fashion Week Tokyo: Womenswear brands add an extra dash of cool to elegance

by Misha Janette

Contributing Writer

Japan Times fashion contributors select eight womenswear collections to look out for during Tokyo fashion week

Mame Kurogouchi

Maiko Kurogouchi / 黒河内 真衣子

Maiko Kurogouchi cut her teeth in design with Issey Miyake but her aesthetics couldn’t be more different, featuring easily wearable separates and casual dresses bursting with femininity that have attracted a legion of followers. Debuting in 2010, Mame has gone from strength to strength, picking up the revered Mainichi Fashion Grand Prix award for newcomers in 2014 and the Fashion Prize of Tokyo last year. Appearing during the week as part of a special program called “Amazon At Tokyo,” we can expect to see lace, silk and prints inspired by nouvelle vague, which reflects the clash of European and Japanese design in the 1940s.

March 19, 19:00
Invitation only


Memuse

Risa Aizawa / 相沢 梨紗

If your idea of “Japanese fashion” includes maid costumes, superheroes and other looks that could have jumped straight from a manga, then Memuse is right up your alley. The brainchild of Risa Aizawa, a member of the popular idol group Dempagumi.inc., Memuse debuted last season to great fanfare, especially since Aizawa has been known to wear fantastical getups designed by local legends throughout her career as an idol on stage. Fans certainly weren’t disappointed, with models on the runway showing off “battle dresses for life,” which Aizawa says is her brand’s concept. Aizawa is expected to be drawing from school uniforms this season, so the show is definitely going to be fun.

March 20, 12:00
Laforet Museum Harajuku


Ambush

Yoon / ユン

While trends are constantly in flux in Tokyo, one thing has remained consistent: Ambush is very cool. The label started with a series of neon-hued knuckle rings reading “POW!” in a comic book typeface, and now creates unisex clothing that has caught the eyes of celebrities such as Kanye West and Rihanna. Founded by designer Yoon and her hip-hop producer husband, Verbal, Ambush was a finalist in the Louis Vuitton parent company LVMH’s Fashion Prize for up-and-coming labels last year. With its pulse on Tokyo streetwear and its first ever appearance at Tokyo fashion week as part of the “Amazon At Tokyo” program this season, Ambush’s show is likely to be the hottest ticket in town.

March 20, 21:00
Invitation only


Akiko Aoki

Akiko Aoki / 青木 明子

Akiko Aoki is one of the youngest and most closely watched designers on this list, thanks in part to the way she can make mountains of frills or tulle look fresh or punk. A graduate of the Coconogacco fashion school in the capital that has been churning out innovative designers year after year, Aoki is definitely turning out to be a force to be reckoned with. Her designs could be described as “girlie grunge,” or a deconstruction of what is considered “cute” among women in Tokyo. Aoki is shortlisted on the LVMH Fashion Prize this year, and her appearance in Tokyo this week is one of the most anticipated shows to keep an eye out for.

March 21, 13:00
Invitation only


Matohu

Hiroyuki Horihata / Makiko Sekiguchi
堀畑 裕之 / 関口 真希子

Matohu was founded in a loft by husband-wife duo Hiroyuki Horihata and Makiko Sekiguchi in 2005 and over the years it has become one of Tokyo’s flagship labels. Matohu utilizes abstract concepts of beauty, reviving archaic techniques of Japanese cloth making to create regal modern garments. You’ll know a Matohu design as soon as you see it, with many designs featuring long column robes made from beautiful locally made textiles. The upcoming collection is inspired by the term “nagori,” or “a moment to be savored before something ends,” which is usually used in reference to poetry, cooking and the seasons.

March 21, 14:00
Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium


G.V.G.V.

MUG / マグ

G.V.G.V has arguably been the most influential brand for the cool “it” girls of Tokyo ever since it launched in 1999. Designer MUG eclectically melds streetwear with runway fashion, presented in a way that is uniquely Japanese. The label has gained notoriety by collaborating with the likes of fast fashion leader Uniqlo and it now sits in some of the world’s coolest boutiques, including New York’s Opening Ceremony. Celebrating the brand’s 20th year, MUG says the new collection will pay homage to her favorite looks from the ’90s. If history tells us anything, the show on Thursday will be packed with a who’s who of celebrities, with the garments being coveted from here to Paris.

March 22, 21:45
Invitation only


Tae Ashida

Tae Ashida / 芦田 多恵

Tae Ashida succinctly captures the glitz, the glamour and the hoi polloi of Tokyo fashion week in a single show. As the daughter of Jun Ashida, one of the first and most prolific high-fashion Japanese designers, Ashida has dressed historical dignitaries and royalty as well as a long line of stylish modern women for the past 25 years. With the theme of the upcoming collection enticingly described as “the power of life,” don’t expect to find any casual streetwear. Instead, prepare yourself for an array of distinctive garments that are an elegant exploration of what’s currently in vogue. If you’re a lady who lunches or lounges like a pro and want to experience high-society fashion, this show is for you.

March 23, 16:30
Grand Hyatt Tokyo


Mintdesigns

Hokuto Katsui / Nao Yagi
勝井 北斗 / 八木 奈央

A Mintdesigns show is always a happy, feel-good experience. Since 2001, design duo Nao Yagi and Hokuto Katsui have delivered fun, quirky prints on loose, unisex clothing. Their mascot, a paper cut-out of a girl precariously — some would say outright dangerously — dancing with a pair of sewing shears, always appears in some capacity on their clothing, alongside the theme motif of the season. The label’s last collection featured a POP print of garbage bags labeled “fashion waste,” a timely message that was creatively balanced with pretty ethnic motifs for both young and old at heart.

March 23, 20:00
Invitation only

* Many of the images featured above are from the spring/summer 2018 collection of Amazon Fashion Week Tokyo