Tokyo Fashion Week is heading our way once again and as regular readers of the site will know we are excited as ever for roomsLINK and related shows from, what I for one have been trying to dub “culturally-led fashion”, brands like Mikio Sakabe, Jenny Fax and others with somewhat anti fashion establishment leanings.  But today we thought we would broaden the scope and make sure that you don’t miss anything coming out of the SS 2014 Tokyo fashion scene.  One of the questions we are asked most frequently by foreign buyers and visitors, is how to get hold of a definitive schedule for the week, and as we always have to admit, that is no easy task.  Obviously you have the official JFW schedule, but you will also need to keep an eye on the aforementioned roomsLINK as well as the Shibuya Fashion Festival, not to mention the CFD schedules to see the big picture.  There is plenty of crossover between them, but you need to look at them all to make sure that no-one slips through your net.  As for the real underground brands, well, I am afraid there is no substitute for word of mouth.

Mint Designs is one such brand that you have to pretty careful to not miss out on, their shows are often announced late and as such are added to the official schedule at the last moment.  A shame as they have proven a success with foreign buyers savvy of how to read the week, and an example of the level of planning and research required to come away from TFW with the kind of Japanese fashion you can only get out of Tokyo.

One of the big talking points of the next Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tokyo, i.e. the official JFW Fashion Week schedule, is already that Italian brand Missoni will be the opening show for the week with the collection that they will have already shown in September at Milan.  This is the kind of decision that has a tendency to raise eyebrows, but is emblematic of the schizophrenia of Japanese fashion.  On the one hand embracing the idea of fashion as a Western institution, and on the other having a strong sense of national identity towards Japanese fashion as a closed concept.  Missoni’s presence at Tokyo Fashion Week fits in with the fashion scenery of the city and ironically should give the event more domestic coverage, on the other hand, as someone always banging the drum for Japanese fashion I can’t help but feel that the figurehead should be a Japanese brand.  It is a difficult quandary and one that you would be foolish to think hasn’t been considered by everyone involved, so perhaps better that this remains a talking point rather than desperately trying to reach a definite judgement.

One designer who has shown that nationality is no issue when considering the week is Johan Ku, the Taiwanese London resident is a firm favorite of the week and is a good example of how global the week can and should be.  At the last Fashion Week Conny Groenewegen, Ariunaa Suri and a number of other designers from abroad also took part, and it goes without saying that this is an important facet of the week.  Perhaps it comes down to stating a position of equality between all designers, the moment one suggests that something is better by virtue of its country of origin, you start to go down a very difficult road that is perhaps the subject of a different discussion.

With that said let’s cleanse the palette with a look at Johan Ku’s most recent collection in all its dark brooding glory, enjoy:

The knitwear designer was clearly in a reflective place for this collection, throwing deliberate destruction into his ordinarily elegant mix.  The results were impressive and had a tortured depth you might not have expected.

Elegance prevailed at times,

Before the darkness took hold.

If the week can function as a means for foreign designers to reach Japan, then it logically follows that it should be the perfect vehicle for foreign facing domestic brands to have their voice heard abroad as well.  It used to be the case that Japanese brands would have to get on the plane to Paris to get any attention from abroad, but what with the very gradual increase in foreign buyers in Japan the week has become a better and better place to grab their attention.  A perfect example of this is Motonari Ono whose bold flirtatious femininity is a good choice for export:

We will have our picks of brands to watch out for nearer the time, but for now lets take a moment to reflect on how all the parts of the week are very much in place via separate institutions, you just have to draw the lines between them yourself.

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