Spring & Summer 2016 Collection
Tokyo fashion week opened on October 12th with more than 50 fashion designers came to exhibit their collections over six days, casting a spotlight on designers working with materials ranging from denim to handwoven silk.
Tokyo fashion week kicked off with a nod to American classics by US designer, Todd Snyder, whose pin-striped shirts, cotton shorts and sweatshirts that looked right off a college campus.
Linen suits and brogues made an appearance, as did a surfboard to suggest that life wasn’t all work and no play for Snyder’s male and female models, many of whom were of Japanese origin and whose ages ranged from 19 all the way up to 60-years-old. His arrangement observers say underlines the absence of local labels on the world stage despite Japan’s reputation for the edgiest streetwear.
There is no shortage of design talent in Japan
“There is no shortage of design talent in Japan,” said Akiko Shinoda, director of international affairs at Japan Fashion Week Organization, which is responsible for the event.
In contrast, the models featured in Japanese label Keisukeyoshida’s show looked like they cut class to turn up at the runway, with girls dressed in pleated miniskirts and ankle socks, while one male stomped down the catwalk in a pair of pants vertically slit to reveal a pair of leopard-print boxer shorts.
Japanese designer Soshi Otsuki’s show featured men dressed in culottes and silk shorts layered over pants in a largely monochrome collection.
“Unfortunately many designers and textile houses are still quite unknown outside Japan, (so) we need to promote them,” Shinoda told AFP.
So many times Tokyo’s pavement feels like their own catwalks, with youngsters sporting an array of weird and wonderful ensembles around the streets of trendy districts around Tokyo.
Beanie hats worn high on girls’ heads seem to be everywhere this autumn, even with the mercury still in the mid-twenties.
But while Tokyo’s fashionistas are applauded by bloggers and columnists worldwide for their daring and sophistication, the wealth of street style inspiration hasn’t translated into big business — for Japanese designers anyway.
Tokyo-based trend-spotter Frenchman Loic Bizel was among the first style hunters to play a key role in getting Tokyo fashion trends noticed.
“This city is so ahead of the curve when it comes to fashion, trends begin here and then months later, maybe even a year later, they go global.”
Copycat Fashion Trends
All too often trend-setting designs from boutique Tokyo shops are adapted or even copied outright, by neighboring Asian manufacturers, for a fraction of the original cost.
“Most Japanese designers work on a small scale, they don’t have patent protection or legal teams who can fight back so it’s easy for big brands to copy their designs and make money from it.”
Industry veterans like Shinoda acknowledge the severity of the situation and say they are pushing local designers to secure their trademarks and protect their labels against fraud.
“Unfortunately we see many instances of our designers’ logos being copied and trademarks being registered by companies in China,” she said.
“We have to find a solution.”