Style & Design

Tokyo's fashion week gets a Japan rebrand

by Samuel Thomas

Contributing Writer

Tokyo’s fashion week is set to run next month from Oct. 14 through Oct. 20, though be advised that those dates are for the official action in Shibuya Hikarie and Omotesando Hills. Brands and events too cool for the polished runways are opting for additional dates in other environs of the city.

The official week has also been renamed, thanks to a new titular sponsor. Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten has taken over from key market competitor Amazon, which sponsored fashion week from October 2016 to March 2019. The change has been mostly well-received by Japanese parties, since Amazon and its predecessors, Mercedes-Benz, were sometimes seen as inappropriately foreign forces helming one of Japanese fashion’s most prestigious events.

It also helps that Rakuten, unlike Mercedes-Benz and Amazon, hasn’t sponsored other fashion weeks across the globe. Grouping Tokyo’s event under the same sponsor of other fashion weeks has had the effect of putting it at the same level of clout as smaller events — and while Tokyo would be pleased to be seen on a par to New York, London, Milan or Paris, there is a reluctance to stand shoulder to shoulder with other cities, no matter the level of local talent.

Rakuten’s e-commerce fashion business is already thriving, so unlike Amazon it also doesn’t have to convince others that it functions as a fashion retailer. It could be argued that it’s not the place to buy luxury goods, but then that is what sponsoring Tokyo’s fashion week can help with. Having said that, even if the scope of niche and mainstream brands Rakuten offers is remarkable, Rakuten’s global reach in fashion is still in its formative stages. Time will tell if October’s events can change things.

For improving the status of fashion week domestically, however, Rakuten and its Rakuten Brand Avenue fashion shopping portal, which will be mobilized in the run-up to fashion week, have real potential to bring in local shoppers.

For the latest information as well as events that the general public are welcome to attend, visit rakutenfashionweektokyo.com/en

In with the old

RAKUTEN FASHION WEEK TOKYO
RAKUTEN FASHION WEEK TOKYO

For the official visuals for Rakuten Fashion Week Tokyo, creative director Kosuke Kawamura was brought in to produce an artistic piece with a decidedly low-tech VHS video vibe. Featuring fashion from edgy anonymous brand Bodysong. and Tamae Hirokawa’s high-fashion orientated Somarta, the promotional video captures a gloomy ’90s aesthetic revival and the mood of the Tokyo underground — though you might have to work hard to make out the actual clothes.

This “old future” concept has been working its way up from the Tokyo underground for quite some time now, not least in the installations of the aforementioned Bodysong and its designer’s co-conspirator Balmung, who is also on the fashion week schedule. The recently revived Runurunu, which has exhibited its work as the Cocoon collective since the early 2000s also embraces a similar aesthetic. Half nostalgic for a more organic and tactile digital world, half dystopian rejection of objective beauty, the mood captures the current Tokyo youth zeitgeist, as well as caters to millennials experiencing a little wistful yearning for the glitchy graphics of their younger years.

The video is a bit of a youth subcultural departure for a mainstream fashion week, but Tokyo fashion has always done well marketing to that demographic overseas. It just has to make sure that it has fashion on the runways to match.

bit.ly/rfwvideo

Stepping into 3D printing: New Balance's FuelCell Echo Triple with 3D printed sole cushioning | NEW BALANCE
Stepping into 3D printing: New Balance’s FuelCell Echo Triple with 3D printed sole cushioning | NEW BALANCE

Not out with the new

NEW BALANCE
NEW BALANCE

If a fashion week flashback isn’t doing it for you, for a taste of more futuristic style, look to the U.S. and the new 3D printer technology infused FuelCell Echo Triple by enduring trend-setter New Balance.

The sneakers, the second in the TripleCell series, boast a nest of coiled spring-like structures in the sole (pictured below) for extra propulsion that just would not be possible without 3D printing technology.

The first TripleCell run sold out fast so you will need to get a move on if you want a pair. In Japan, the FuelCell Echo Triple has just dropped exclusively on the New Balance online shop for ¥23,000. It could even be sold out by the time you read this.

GELATO PIQUE
GELATO PIQUE

Meanwhile, also from overseas, Halloween is getting ready to rear its head. Since Shibuya embraced Halloween, it’s seen the district grind to a halt every Oct. 31. Those who want to avoid the genuinely terrifying scenes of revelers on the iconic scramble crossing, pajama and underwear brand Gelato Pique is launching a special Halloween collection to enjoy in the comfort of the home. Decidedly cute, the lineup is all about pandas and even includes a complete panda ensemble, so you can indulge in a little indoor cosplay. The light-hearted collection has pieces for the whole family and goes on sale in stores nationwide and online on Oct. 4.

New Balance: bit.ly/echotriple Gelatopique: bit.ly/gelatopique

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