Rakuten Fashion Week Tokyo Fall/Winter 2024 Highlights ③ From The First Show by Marimekko to “AI Fashion Week”

Rakuten Fashion Week Tokyo Fall/Winter 2024 collection was held over six days, from Monday, March 11th, to Saturday, March 16th. As in previous years, Shibuya Hikarie and Omotesando Hills were chosen as the main venues for the show, and 43 brands presented their latest collections in physical and digital formats.

Following its first and second highlights, this article introduces the key highlights of the Rakuten Fashion Week Tokyo Fall/Winter 2024 Collection.

Marimekko Held Its First Show in Japan

Marimekko presented its Fall/Winter 2024 collection at the Tokyo National Museum Hyokeikan on March 15. For the first time, Marimekko is participating in Rakuten Fashion Week Tokyo as a brand supported by Rakuten “by R.” Celebrating the 60th anniversary of the brand’s iconic “Unikko” pattern, the Fall/Winter 2024 collection was unveiled with vivid textiles for everyday wear.

The theme of this season’s collection is “dress up and dress down.” The show’s first look featured the brand’s signature “Unikko” pattern in a gray knit paired with a black skirt. A silver neck pouch with blooming “Unikko” dangled from the neck.

Since then, coats, dresses, and shirt-and-pants sets have appeared one after another, all reflecting Marimekko’s symbolic geometric and “Unikko” patterns. These eye-catching designs, which are real clothes suitable for everyday wear, will imbue those who wear them with a cheerful feeling due to their strong presence.

In addition to the neck pouch with a three-dimensional Unikko motif, a square silhouette pochette, and a compact leather baguette bag were also introduced.

The collection also showcased the brand’s first denim line, Mali Denim. This line is crafted using organic and recycled cotton, carefully considering water usage. Additionally, metal parts are minimized, and the products are designed to be easily recyclable at the end of their lifecycle.

The indigo and light blue Marimekko-patterned denim shirts and jeans are comfortable workwear that enhances the wearer’s personality.

Currently, the Japanese market is Marimekko’s second largest market in global sales, after Finland, the brand’s birthplace.

In a press interview after the show, Creative Director Rebekka Bay said, “Tokyo is like home to us, and this show was a great opportunity to express that connection.”

Courtesy of Marimekko

In conjunction with the Marimekko fashion show, Rakuten also sold special “by R” products, including items commemorating the 60th anniversary of the birth of the Unikko pattern and a home collection in cherry blossom colors that set the mood for spring.

Ryo Matsumura, Group Managing Executive Officer Commerce & Marketing Company Senior Vice President at Rakuten Group, Inc., commented about the Marimekko show: “Marimekko has a high level of brand recognition both in Japan and abroad, and we believe that we were able to promote its appeal from a new angle through this first participation in Tokyo Fashion Week.”

“Rakuten selects brands that connect Japan and the world, inspire people to enjoy fashion and maximize their appeal to empower the Japanese fashion scene. Through projects such as supporting Marimekko and selling special products, we believe we can expand awareness and provide a new shopping experience to more users than ever,” he added.

The Changes Generated by AI for the Japanese Fashion Industry

The Japan Fashion Week Organization (JFWO), the organizer of Rakuten Fashion Week Tokyo, has included a variety of fashion-related events in its schedule during the period of the fashion week, in addition to the presentation of each brand’s latest collection.

For example, the press event of “TRANOÏ,” an exhibition in Paris with which JFWO has established a cooperative relationship; “Denim RunTOKYO” co-hosted with Tokyo Creative Salon; and “J∞QUALITY SPECIAL COLLECTION,” a special collection by J∞QUALITY that aims to revitalize Japanese textile production areas and expand purely Japanese products.

One of the most innovative events was “TOKYO AI Fashion Week,” a two-day event held by OpenFashion Inc. on March 16-17 to open up new areas of fashion through generative AI. The event covered everything from a contest for works created with generative AI to an exhibition and a seminar on the latest AI information and communicated the fashion industry’s new future through generative AI. In the AI fashion contest, visitors could view the entries displayed on monitors and vote for their favorites.

Hiroshi Komoda, Executive Director of JFWO, commented on this initiative: “Although this is not something that can be described in a few words, we accept that AI is something that we cannot avoid, and we are boldly taking on the challenge, despite our many uncertainties and unknowns.”

When asked about the impact of generative AI and fashion on the Japanese fashion industry, Komoda stated: “There are positive aspects, such as increased work efficiency, and I believe that new benefits and professions will be created by coexistence with AI. As the premier platform for Japanese fashion, we believe that we should create opportunities for people to become aware of and interested in the industry, rather than just one company trying something, and we hope to play a role in this.”

“Rakuten Fashion Week Tokyo” Evolves with A Focus on The Future

In addition, following the annual slogan “OPEN, FASHION WEEK,” the 2024 Rakuten Fashion Week Tokyo provided opportunities for more people to experience Japanese designer fashion. This season, JFWO also started inviting buyers and press from abroad.

One of the international guests was Mr. Ting-Ting Zhang, the head of the Singapore Fashion Council, the official organization of Singapore’s textile and fashion industry, who was in Tokyo for the first time to view the brands’ shows.

“The fashion shows in Tokyo were not just runway shows but were a fusion of art, entertainment, and other multifaceted elements in their presentation, which was very interesting. It was also fascinating to see how some brands incorporated stories inspired by cities around the world into their concepts and designs,” said Zhang after she watched some shows in Tokyo.

Then, what does the Rakuten Group, the title sponsor of Fashion Week and a longtime leader in the Japanese fashion industry, envision for the future of Fashion Week?

“We will continue to support not only the holding of shows but also EC support, focusing on brands that connect Japan and the world and provide an opportunity for many people to enjoy fashion. We hope to support the industry by helping brands grow their businesses. Through the “by R” project, we hope to provide users with opportunities to meet new brands and brands with opportunities to meet new users, which in turn will lead to the expansion of the fashion industry,” said Matsumura.

Regarding future strategies with a global focus and the upcoming Fashion Week season, he added, “In addition to encouraging the participation of luxury, designer, and other department store brands, we will continue to focus on engaging communications and platforms that will be available to a greater number of users. We will continue to focus on increasing engagement, and in doing so, we will further strengthen our collaboration with Fashion Week.”

Komoda reflected on this season’s Rakuten Fashion Week Tokyo Fall/Winter 2024.

“As the organizer of the “Rakuten Fashion Week Tokyo” platform, we must always prioritize designers. However, considering the timing of the event and the physical distance, it is not as easy as having the event in Europe. For this reason, we need to enhance our support programs, especially the “TOKYO FASHION AWARD” and the “FASHION PRIZE OF TOKYO,” jointly organized with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. These programs provide opportunities to participate in showrooms in Paris and showcase new collections. Designer support programs have been implemented to promote awareness of and interest in Japanese brands in Europe.”

“After such a long period, we believe that the invitation of overseas journalists and the development of overseas exhibitions such as Tranoi in Japan are more or less meaningful in combination with improving the brand’s capabilities.”

On the other hand, he explained that these global efforts have only just begun. “We would like to take into account the valuable opinions of the overseas guests who came to Japan this time and make use of them in the next season and beyond. We also believe that Tokyo’s uniquely cultivated fashion culture is of great interest to the world, and we would like to convey the appeal of TOKYO FASHION to the world strongly.”

Rakuten Fashion Week Tokyo 2024 has implemented many new initiatives throughout the year. These efforts are expected to make Rakuten Fashion Week Tokyo a big event that will attract even more attention from fashion professionals worldwide in the coming years.

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