Young Japanese males may no longer be interested in buying new cars, brand-name clothes or other expensive items, but their female counterparts appear less reluctant to part with their money, and retailers are tuned in.
“The Tokyo Girls Collection in Nagoya,” a Feb. 19 fashion event at Nagoya Dome, is billed as one such opportunity where a number of businesses — not just from the fashion industry, but also from confectionary to tourism — will gather to grab a piece of the action.
The collection has been held twice a year since 2005, mostly in the Tokyo area. The February show will be the first time it has been held in Nagoya and only the second time outside the metropolitan area. One event was held in Okinawa last year.
The trend-setting event now regularly attracts some 20,000 to 30,000 visitors per show.
Amid sluggish consumer spending linked to a downturn in the manufacturing industry in the region, this extravaganza is expected to raise new demand for the so-called girls’ market and provide a spark for the local economy.
The collection is a comprehensive entertainment event in which popular brand companies showcase cutting-edge fashion, while music performances and talk shows by celebrities are also staged.
While most fashion shows target the fashion industry, the collection is designed for general consumers and works in tandem with online shopping sites, allowing people to buy clothes presented at a show right away via their cell phones.
The fashions worn by the trend-conscious women packing previous venues were actually part of the entertainment. At the summer show, people wore fur, and others wore summer clothes at the winter event. There are many who purchased outfits and fancy goods just for the events.
Women aged between 20 and 34 make up the main audience. Those females with disposable cash who buy what they want, the “F1 population,” are the driving force in various markets.
A dress worn by Karina, a Nagoya-born popular model, at a past collection resulted in record sales of the item: more than 10,000 were later sold.
For several companies, the collection is the perfect location to display their products while at the same time conducting market research.
Nagoya is said to have developed its own unique fashion style, as demonstrated by “Nagoya-jyo (girls)” who have gorgeous, curly hairstyles.
“We chose Nagoya as the event venue because it has a fairly good market size, and because Nagoya girls have a passion for becoming prettier,” said Ayako Nagaya, chief producer of the executive committee of the collection and president of F1 MEDIA Inc.
Karina, the model, said people in Nagoya have developed their own fashion culture by incorporating different trends and cultures.
Toshihiro Uchida, an economist at Mitsubishi UFJ Research and Consulting Co., estimated the economic effect of the event at about ¥1.7 to ¥2 billion based on the expected number of people in the audience, noting further benefits can be expected as many apparel companies are located in Nagoya and Ichinomiya in Aichi Prefecture and in Gifu.
At the Nagoya event, 50 popular fashion models, including Karina, Anna Tsuchiya and Nozomi Sasaki, will showcase the latest fashion from about 20 brands, and some 40 companies will take part.
At the venue, local department stores will organize their own shows. The Matsuzakaya emporium in Nagoya, 80 percent of whose customers are above 40 years old, will present five brands for women in their 20s, with the aim of luring new, young customers.
Maruzawaya Co., which runs M.deux brand shops in the Tokai region targeting women in their 20s and 30s, will showcase a blouse and distribute its product catalog at the site. “We want to raise the profile of our brand all over Japan,” a company official said.
Aoyagi Sohonke, an established manufacturer of desserts, has taken this opportunity to develop “uiro,” a sweet rice cake specialty of Nagoya, by using sweet potato with heart-shaped decorations. The firm plans to sell the product at its booth during the event.
The popularity of Japanese fashion has also spread abroad, especially in other parts of Asia. The word “kawaii” (cute) is now understood in many foreign countries.
Because the collection attracts many visitors from Taiwan, Hong Kong and other parts of Asia, the tourism industry also has high expectations for the event.
Aichi Prefecture has proposed a special tour to a travel agency in southern China’s Guangdong Province to lure more Chinese visitors.
To promote the tour, it also ran ads in a local travel magazine to introduce sightseeing spots located within the prefecture. Organizers are also planning to hold a collection in Beijing in May.
This section, appearing Saturdays, features topics and issues from the Chubu region covered by the local daily Chunichi Shimbun. The original article was published Jan. 22.
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