It might be unimaginable to many based in Europe or the US that new stores and giant retail complexes are opening in Tokyo and that the unquenchable thirst for consumerism continues in the Japanese capital. Earlier this month Rakuten Fashion Week Tokyo (RakutenFWT) took place in Shibuya and the streets were lined with fashion peacocks and the ubiquitous myriad of street photographers. To many outsiders, it would seem that Tokyo hasn't really changed much, or at all, since it opened up after a soft lockdown in late spring, 2020.
Although RakutenFWT played to the crowd, around half of the shows on the schedule were films or web presentations. As the previous fashion week, scheduled for March, was cancelled, this month's S/S21 fashion week saw the implementation of a pop-up ecommerce site to combat the unfortunate reality that a severely depleted number of buyers and stores failed to stock many designers from Tokyo at all in the last few months.
As foreign nationals without proper visas are still prohibited from entering Japan (including buyers and designers) the RakutenFWT team began a collaboration with buying service JOOR to partner with a variety of brands. It would appear that JOOR may well become the future of fashion buying and the wholesale business.
Regarding streetwear, denim and sportswear, in particular, there have been numerous new developments concentrated in the Japanese capital. In the last few months, brands such as New Balance, Richardson, Visvim and others have opened their doors to the public with innovative and refreshing spaces dotted around the city.
Richardson, the contemporary streetwear label, has opened a store in youth mecca Harajuku with a special collection inspired by the work of leading Japanese photographer and all-round bad boy Nobuyoshi Araki.
Other notable openings include Shinichiro Ishibashi's streetwear and denim label Kuon which also opened its doors in Harajuku and focuses on the brand's love affair with traditional Japanese aesthetics fused with contemporary design. With a made-to-order service available and offering quality indigo-dyed tops, Kuon's new two-storey space is a welcome addition to the retail landscape in Tokyo.
About the author:
Paul McInnes is SPORTSWEAR INTERNATIONAL's Tokyo correspondent; he lives in the Japanese capital since many years.