Tokyo-Based Designers Reflect on the Effects of Covid on Fashion

While Italy may be at the epicentre of the pandemic at the moment, the Coronavirus crisis has been affecting every country, state and industry. 

Yet, how have designers been reacting? We talked to a series of designers who were supposed to present their collections at Rakuten Fashion Week in Tokyo and asked them about how, regardless of the cancellation of Fashion Week, they are reacting and planning for the future to come. 

Meanswhile

Launched in 2014 by Naohiro Fujisaki, this season’s collection was created with the concept of deconstruction and reconstruction in mind. There were many removable sleeves, collars and bodices – all of which serve their own purposes. Components of various pieces are taken apart and worn in conjunction with each other to create visually striking looks. 

“The effect this crisis has had on us is large. Between winning this award and preparations for our first runway show, it was disheartening to have all this momentum halted by such an unfortunate event. It will be hard to mitigate the negative effects of this, but as a brand, I also believe it our job to be able to adjust to the current climate. Even before this all occurred, the fashion industry had already reached a point in which change was needed, so this presents an opportunity for re-evaluation,” stated Fujisaki. 

Plans for the future? “Our goal would not be to sell products, but to provide a showroom-like environment in which we can accurately convey our brand, ultimately eliminate our dependence on dealers, and better serve our customers.”

Malamute

Founded in 2014 by designer Mari Odaka, the brand has been showing at Rakuten since Spring Summer 2019 and has always been characterised by elaborate knitwear created by local craftsmen and factories. This season’s collection called "One's Garden" was influenced by a museum on a small hill at Karato Teshima. The collection was inspired by artist Rei Naito and architect Ryue Nishizawa as well as influenced by land art and by contemporary artist James Turrell. A garden-inspired colour palette characterised the collection, from moss greens and stone to brighter tones inspired by flowers. 

“There will be some delays and fluctuations in sales and delivery, but there hasn’t been any significant impact at this stage. However, we have to continue thinking about what we can do in the future. Also, we used digital tools (live streaming and some Instagram tools) to present this season collection instead of a runway show, so we could expand the range of expression and showcase it to a large number of people (because everyone can easily see it anywhere on a smartphone),” explained Odaka.

 

Plans for the future? “The digital presentation was a good alternative plan and was able to carefully focus on what we wanted to express on the runway show, furthermore, a fashion film could be a good way of expressing what cannot be explored live. We would like to further explore methods of announcing a new collection suitable for each season’s theme and collection continuously from next season.”

NONTokyo

Characterised by a Kawaii-like aesthetic, the completely ‘made-in-Japan’ brand founded by Ayano Ichige presented their first collection at Rakuten Fashion Week last September. For Autumn Winter 2020, the brand presented a leisurewear collection inspired by camping and sports.

“We are a small brand and fortunately, for now, the crisis hasn’t impacted us much, but it may be affecting us in the following months,” stated Ichige. “Our E-Commerce sales are growing very quickly, and regardless of the slowdown the industry and economy, I feel that the value of things is gradually being re-evaluated through sustainable action. In the other hand, we expect that shopping can be a key action as a way to relieve stress for people who have lost a job or are afraid of going outside in public due to the coronavirus.”

Plans for the future? “We would like to do things that people can't experience without coming to place like a Runway show or installation and would promote things that can be active outside."

Forsomeone

Established in Tokyo, Forsomeone was launched in 2018 by costume designer Satoshi Ogawa. This season, it would have been the first time the brand was going to show at Rakuten Fashion Week, presenting a collection that would have explored the balance between darkness and lightness.

“This crisis has a considerable impact on us, but I would like to evolve and review and select various things that are important for us,” explained Ogawa.

Plans for the future? “I think this kind of crisis will happen again near the future, so I would like to rebuild our business model in a way it can survive such an emergency situation.”

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