The suddenly rescheduled Rakuten Fashion Week Tokyo has just wrapped up, with related tradeshows and exhibitions that follow the shows continuing until the end of the month. The new early September dates for debuting the spring/summer collections, some three weeks earlier than Tokyo fashion weeks of seasons past, make it easier to imagine what the clothes would be like to wear in their intended season.
Due to the current COVID-19 situation in Tokyo and beyond, the vast majority of shows were either broadcast as a pre-recorded video, streamed live or simply released as a digital lookbook. Given that these brands represent the forefront of domestic fashion, it was surprising to see some not breaking 500 views on the event’s official YouTube channel, with even the bigger names barely inching toward 2,000 views. Some brands probably employ more people than those who watched the show live.
Given the pre-COVID scrum to get into fashion shows, with people lining up to see what designers have up their sleeve that season, you may wonder just what is going on. The simple answer is twofold. First, nothing can replace actually experiencing the theatrical thrill of the shows — dressing up and seeing the collection not as a catalog, but as a curated performance right in front of your seat. Second, it’s presumptuous to assume people have the attention span to watch every virtual show in its entirety. What works in person might need particularly dynamic camera angles and the editing of a click-bait-savvy videographer to grab attention online.
So it’s no surprise videos that abandoned the idea of “a fashion show as film” rose to the top. Brands such as El ConductorH, only established in 2017, nabbed over 50,000 views, which would be a sound result for even global brands with hefty budgets. El ConductorH went with a short television-style drama whose characters wore the collection. The video and accompanying shot-on-a-disposable-camera lookbook definitely didn’t break the bank and clearly reached its intended audience.
The importance of working out how to shoot impactful videos is also dictated by trends. Brands like DressedUndressed do pretty well in static form, as its silhouettes are consistently stark with minimal layering. But collections embracing the move toward heavy layering, like Taiwan’s Seivson, where four or five elements jostle for attention, can look labored in a photo, but effortless in motion. We are also seeing the return of A-line pants for both men and women, and if there is any cut that needs to be seen moving to be appreciated it is the flare. As with current trends on the streets, lighter fabrics and, for men, flared sweatpants — epitomized by Cinoh by Takayuki Chino — are the go-to look for next season. For women, a slit to expose the ankle seems to be the enduring trend that, once again, is designed to flow with each step.
But not all shows were exclusively online. Of the smattering of social-distanced shows, the one that captured the most public attention was from Kolor, which commandeered a Keikyu Line train departing Shinagawa Station. Before anyone panics, the train (including the platform) was reserved for the show, offering attendees the most fashionable commute of their lives.
Rakuten Fashion Week Tokyo: bit.ly/rfwtokyo-2021
Playing with style
Meanwhile, the fashion collaboration garnering the most attention online has been roomwear maestro Gelato Pique’s collaboration with Ninendo’s iconic Super Mario franchise.
The collection matches the demographic of the franchise’s fanbase with men’s, women’s and kid’s sizes in styles ranging from subtle to “dressed up.” If you want to don a full-body fluffy romper and become Mario or Yoshi, you can, but if a T-shirt and a pair of slippers is more your speed, you won’t be left out.
Pre-orders start at noon on Sept. 13 on Gelato Pique’s online store and the My Nintendo Store. From Sept. 17 it will hit both brands’ retail locations nationwide.
Elsewhere, GU has teamed up with legendary video game director Hideo Kojima’s company, Kojima Productions, for an affordable capsule collection. Interestingly, it doesn’t use motifs from his games, including the highly lauded Death Stranding, but rather the company’s own branding. There are few creators who can market a fashion line based on a cult of personality, but Kojima is one such person. The collection drops Sept. 27 in-store and online, and is also available in mainland China (online only), Taiwan (in-store and online) and Hong Kong (in-store only), showing that his currency extends across East Asia.
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