The Situation Surrounding Trade Shows in Japan

At the end of July, influential buyers from around the world gathered at fashion trade shows such as JFW-IFF, Moda Italia and Mode in France. Each exhibition showcased pieces from 2016 S/S collections, which highlighted floral prints, ethnic themes and unique colorblocks as opposed to the “normcore” trend. It was surprising that despite the negative factors such as exchange rate volatility and the middle class spending less, participating overseas brands showed high expectations for the Japan market.

“(In Asia) we do a lot of business with the Chinese fashion stores, but hope to increase distribution to Japanese department stores moving forward. We see Japan as a stable market, in a good sense. Sales in China are certainly growing but we hope for a more widespread structure”, said a trade representative of the ready-to-wear brand O DE MAI which participated in the Mode in France. We heard similar views from other participating brands as well, such as “We would like to start participating in Japan’s trade shows again” and “Japanese buyers don’t disappoint”. This seems to be a reflection of our mid-long term dedication and achievements.

Many similar comments came from those who participated in the Moda Italia. The Italian export business has been under difficulties and Russia, one of the major markets for Italian fashion, is under economic sanctions due to the Ukraine crisis. The Trade Promotion Office of the Embassy of Italy, the host of Moda Italia, has also commented, “Luxury items used to sell well in Russia, so the decline has hit us hard. Business in the US has been growing with the recovering economy, but it does not compensate for the decline in Russia.” Not only has exports to Russia been unpredictable, the EU is in decline due to the Greek crisis. This makes it only necessary to find growth in Asian markets.

On the other hand, we are seeing fewer buyers visiting JFW-IFF, which has participants mainly from Japan, China, Korea, India and Bangladesh. It seems the increase of overseas brands using OEMs, in addition to the lack of originality and quality to meet the higher standards of buyers is influencing the decrease in interest. There has also been fewer variations in products, given that Japanese designers are moving more towards smaller trade shows. The environment of trade shows in Japan is constantly changing due to global influences such as exchange rate fluctuations, the political situation in Russia, the Greek crisis and the Chinese economy, and it seems safe to say these circumstances can not be changed by Japan alone.

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Photos from the JFW-IFF venue