Amazon Fashion Week Tokyo Puts a Focus on Reality
In Japan, Amazon Fashion Week Tokyo has proven itself to be a fashion week where international press can discover mature and creative brands that already have a strong foothold in Asia but might not yet be discovered by the larger fashion world. This is an important point seeing as often the far flung fashion weeks that take place around the world tend to show designers who are just starting out and have less of a track record in terms of dealing with production or delivery issues.
It’s a fact that can help sooth any concerns that international buyers might have when considering taking on a fashion house based out of Asia. For example the brand Hyke presented a collection that was as well rounded as they come. Both creative and commercial the lineup could stand shoulder to shoulder with collections presented in New York, London, Milan or Paris. And their partnership with The North Face shows them to be savvy in the collaboration department as well. Other designers like Tae Ashida, the daughter of Japanese fashion designer Jun Ashida who at one point of his career was the dressmaker of Empress Michiko, had her front row filled with governmental ambassadors from around the global. She presented a collection that made you think she could easily be called the Michael Kors of Asia. While the unisex streetwear brand ACUOD by CHANU, create by the South Korean designer Chanu in 2016, has won 16 fashion contests worldwide and has been showing his electrifying collections at Amazon Fashion Week Tokyo since the spring/summer 2017 season.
ACUOD’s participation in the fashion week also points to the inclusive nature of this event. Designers from Indonesia, China, South Korea and France all presented during the fashion week. Also Japanese brands that have broken out on the international scene like Anrealage and Beautiful People have not forgotten their roots and present their collections for their fans in their native land even after having shown during Paris Fashion Week. And along those same lines the inclusion of the famous Kimono designer Jotaro Saito into calendar was a smart way to pay homage to the fashion heritage of Japan.
“There was a real move towards very wearable clothes and mass market appeal. Everything was very retail focused, which in previous seasons hasn’t been the case,” said Janelle Okwodu of American Vogue, who has attended a number of season of Amazon Fashion Week Tokyo. She went on to add that it is also important to leave room for more avant garde designers. “You want to see the unorthodox collections get top billing, even if they only appeal to a small niche,” she said.
To that end there were a few stand out shows like Jenny Fax by designer Shueh Jen Fang or the knitwear brand Malamute by Mari Odaka, which pushed the creative envelope. And the Tokyo Fashion Award, a relatively new fashion prize that picks six fashion brands from Tokyo that the organization will support as they try and grow their international expansion with a showroom during Paris Fashion Week. They also back the six designers runway shows on the last day of Amazon Fashion Week Tokyo, which is another way that niche brands are getting more visibility.
Fashion insider Nick Wooster was on the Tokyo Fashion Awards jury this year and was in town to take in the six designers shows and is a regular visitor to the city. He has been impressed with the progress of the fashion week. “It is evolving with each season and I like how they are now showing at different venues around the city. Also having international brands like Koche showing here helps to generate more attention from overseas media, which is smart.”
If there is one thing that is perhaps missing at Amazon Fashion Week Tokyo it is the inclusion of round tables, panel discussions or interviews with those international guests who are in town to cover the event. They are have a wealth of knowledge that the organization, local brands and fashion fans could benefit from, even if the language barrier might be a challenge.
But overall Amazon Fashion Week Tokyo is run like a well oiled machine. Shows start on time, the post show interviews with the designers are well organized, the official website is robust and full of all the key information international guest would need. And the shows themselves are a balanced selection of young and establish designers who show in enough different locations to keep the monotony of a black box runway show space at bay. It all makes this fashion week a solid contender for a fifth spot alongside the top four fashion weeks that make up the foundation of each season.
Jessica Michault is the Senior Vice President of industry relations at GPS Radar by Launchmetrics. She is also the editor-at-large for ODDA magazine and contributes to publications like the New York Times, the Business of Fashion, Vogue, Harper's Bazaar and Mixte magazine.
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