Amazon Fashion Week TOKYO - Will it change for the better?

After New York, London, Milano and Paris Fashion Week comes to an end, Tokyo Fashion Week begins. For the past five years, 40-50 brands participated in the biannual event held mid-March to late-March and mid-October. Most participating brands are Japanese, although we have seen an increase in overseas participants especially from Asian countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Australia most recently.

This is the second season that the Amazon took the place of Mercedes Benz as title sponsor since 2017 SS collection and the first in which Amazon Japan hosted at TOKYO, a supplementary program to Fashion Week. Three talented brands - BEDWIN & THE HEARTBREAKERS, House_Commune and GROWING PAINS - that have never made appearances were there to support the shows and presentations during Tokyo Fashion Week, as well as the online sales of collection items through Amazon’s website. Many well-known magazine editors and influencers who normally skip Fashion Week made there way to the reception party held after the shows.

Another positive aspect of this season’s Fashion Week was that both up-and-coming and relatively established brands showcased solid collections. Ujoh designed by Mitsuru Nishizaki, who formerly worked at Yohji Yamamoto, took part in New York and Paris shows as well. The designer explains, “This season’s collection was about challenging to take apart the basics”. HYKE, one of Tokyo’s most popular brands, redesigned various versions of basic wear such as MA-1 bomber jackets and rider jackets. The brand’s passion to evolve the standard of real clothes could be felt through their collection.

On Saturday, March 25, the last day of the fashion festival, young designers who were awarded the TOKYO FASHION AWARD, a program supporting a Paris exhibition, showed off their youthful collections. TAAKK, doublet, salvam, BED j.w. FORD and YOHEI OHNO are a few brands that received well-deserved appraisal.

Although the overall content of Fashion Week has been well received, some challenges still remain. Although the overseas men’s Fashion Weeks end in early February, menswear and womenswear take place at the same time during Tokyo Fashion Week. This time lag has led many Japanese men’s brands to find participation in Tokyo Fashion Week less meaningful for many years. In addition, while Japan has over 500 independent fashion brands only 10% participate in Fashion Week and therefore many talented brands that exhibit their collections elsewhere are not represented. As Japan’s apparel manufacturing and textile companies are facing difficulties keeping up with demands of so many brands, new designers are often unable to find manufactures, while the timing of Fashion Week seems too late from a production standpoint as well.

Although Japan struggled to find talents to succeed the top three world-renowned designers of Japan, Issey Miyake, Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto for awhile, we have recently seen designers such as sacai’s Chitose Abe, who have been setting world trends. To find the next sacai, we can only hope that Fashion Week will evolve to fully represent Japanese fashion.