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Letter From Japan: Tokyo Fashion Week Rises


Style Bubble‘s Susie Lau reports from Tokyo’s resurgent fashion week.

The words “power” and “positivity” were echoed over and over again at Tokyo fashion week (formerly known as Japan fashion week), which concluded over the weekend. Originally scheduled for March, the week had been canceled following the earthquake and tsunami; the reenergized presentations had a newly refreshed and reorganized schedule, and a new sponsor, too—Mercedes-Benz, which also funds fashion weeks in New York, Miami, Berlin, Stockholm, and more. One particular upshot to the new infusion of capital: more new talent in a usually closed-off week. “It doesn’t mean we should be more commercial,” explained Hirofumi Kurino, co-founder of Japanese retail giant United Arrows and advisor on the week’s committee. “It means we can catch more eyes from all around the world.”

The week made it clear that the label “Made in Japan” can be richly diverse. On one hand, tradition-abiding labels like Matohu take purist Japanese ideals of beauty and apply them to serene clothes. On the other, designers like Yoshio Kubo show an appetite for original fabrics, and his Native American patterns layered up with shredded tweeds made for an accomplished menswear collection that would stand up in Paris or Milan.

There was a newfound buzz in the week with younger generation of Tokyoite designers like Shueh Jen-Fang of Jenny Fax, who showed warped schoolgirl uniforms and memories of Twin Peaks. Christian Dada drew an edgier crowd with an apocalyptic vision of black gowns complete with animal skulls and cages made of branches (above).

Among labels popular in Japan—and destined, perhaps, for greater global presence—Anrealage stood out. Designer Kunihiko Morinaga’s collection of molded forms, hardened pleats, and raised detailing created by heat-fused polyester was a standout. And while most of Tokyo fashion week bucked the mainstream Spring 2012 trends, brands like G.V.G.V. (above left) and Plumpynuts (above right)—the city has a penchant for oddball names—showed collections in line with the pastel and print-heavy season we’re in for.

The willingness to embrace a younger generation was best summed up on the final day, when Yuichi Yoshi of cult boutique The Contemporary Fix took over, with his bevy of street wear-infused labels, which had the young things of Tokyo lining up waiting patiently to see their shows (the public were able to purchase tickets with proceeds going to the tsunami/earthquake aid fund). The disasters were still very present to the attendees and presenters alike. Mastermind’s return to the catwalk showed nothing of the unexpected—once you’ve seen one skull-print tee, you’ve seen them all—but pepped up the crowd with an appropriate J-Pop performance expressing sentiments similar to the charity T-shirts on sale: “All for One, One for All.”

The all-for-one feeling continues when Fashion’s Night Out comes to Tokyo on November 4. In addition to gathering locals, the event will draw Emmanuelle Alt, Franca Sozzani, Alexandra Shulman, and Anna Wintour.

Photos: Courtesy of Tokyo Fashion Week

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