The very observant of you will have noticed that we pulled our coverage of last November’s Fashion’s Night Out Japan at the last minute, deciding that it did not meet our self-imposed absolute positivity policy that we try to adhere to on this site. This time however the tinge of cultural imperialism was mercifully absent and more Japanese brands were actually involved, mostly thanks to LaForet which brought out the clientele you might actually associate with the area, rather than the temporary colonization of the area with the well-heeled of Ginza of last FNO. It just goes to show that for an event of this nature to flourish in Japan that the Western idea of fashion as elitism is best put aside for the more inclusive perception of fashion as aspiration in the context of Japan.
Still, as a festival of shopping and a reminder of the hold that foreign luxury brands still enjoy in the market even when they are increasingly at odds with the perception of Japanese fashion, especially from abroad, it is certainly an interesting night. There was a definite split at the higher end of the market with many brands sending out invitations, planning entertainment and ensuring celebrity appearances, and those that thought that a tray of champagne and canapes would be enough to ensure a good turn out – they were wrong.
I thought we would take a look through a couple of the aspects of the night, so that those abroad can get a good sense of what you might have missed out on.
It is worth noting that this time FNO coincided (coincidentally) with a traditional procession through the streets of Harajuku, and the ubiquitous sound of the drumming was a very pleasant soundtrack to negotiating the crowds.
Starting with the high-end of the market at the opening ceremony there were the usual celebrity appearances and corporate sponsorship, I thought it especially amusing that Audi and FedEx were the direct counterparts of Mercedes-Benz and DHL of Tokyo Fashion Week.
The PR hit of the night was offering visitors some kind of official photo in the shop that they could then see online – definitely a winning strategy.
Elsewhere at the higher end you had brands like Issey Miyake putting on open exhibitions with free entry.
Heading towards the middle of the market and the queues at the Runway Channel pop-up show had to be seen to be believed and it was nice to see a more mainstream Shibuya vibe incorporated into the night even if it was not “officially” part of the night.
LaForet was drawing crowds with its giant gachapon machine that you could enter by spending a certain amount inside.
In particular Himitsu by Syrup was drawing huge crowds – with good reason at that.
But without a doubt the shops that seemed to be actually shifting the most stock were the usual fast fashion names – somewhat depressing, but we all need to start somewhere.
So there you have it, a much more inclusive FNO, even if many shops and brands were not officially taking part, and one that was more representative of Japanese fashion as a whole. At the very least it is a fantastic opportunity to get out on the streets in your finery and have some fun, and a useful reminder of the other face of Japanese fashion that you may forget about as you watch from abroad.