Rakuten Fashion Week Tokyo was held at the main venues, Shibuya Hikarie and Omotesando Hills, for six days from August 28 to September 2. During the period, 50 brands participated, presenting their Spring/Summer 2024 collections in both digital and physical formats.
The Japan Fashion Week Organization (JFWO) has announced the concept of “OPEN, FASHION WEEK” as its major theme for the entire year of 2024. This season will be the second after overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic and being freed from the mask. According to JFWO, compared to the past several years’ Fashion Weeks, the number of participating international brands and the number of international guests attending the shows has increased, and the event has returned to a more vibrant atmosphere. In addition, the fashion week was seamless and diverse, with a focus on “strengthening global communication” and “fusion of digital and physical elements,” the development of a wider range of content with a more liberating feel than in the past, and the implementation of events in which the general public could participate.
This article highlights the runway shows by high-profile Japanese designers that were presented at the Rakuten Fashion Week Tokyo.
This season, Rakuten Fashion Week Tokyo opened with designer Kanako Sakai’s runway debut. Sakai won the Grand Prix of the “JFW NEXT BRAND AWARD 2024” in the physical category of the brand support program by JFWO, and this is the first runway show for the brand.
After studying fashion design at the Parsons School of Design in New York and gaining experience at several designer brands over the years, Sakai launched her eponymous brand in 2021. While living in New York, where the culture is completely different from that of Japan, she was reminded once again of the aesthetic sensibility inherited in Japan. The designer incorporates this unique Japanese traditional beauty into each season’s collection to express a unique sophistication.
The Spring/Summer 2024 collection, presented at the first runway show, was packed with looks that sparkled and shimmered as if a jewelry box sunk in the ocean had been opened. The early part of the show featured clean, sophisticated looks based on white, followed by a colorful palette of silver, mint, pink, blue, red, and black, with sparkling lamé and metallic accents. Also, the high level of technical skill in Sakai’s creations was evident in the flexible cutting and three-dimensional tailoring that swayed as the models strutted around.
The designer set the theme of this show as “Welcome.” Behind this theme, there was the desire for the audience to learn about aspects that have not been conveyed in the lookbooks, from a 360-degree angle through the show. At the same time, she wanted to create a sense of mystery, as if people were being invited to travel to unknown places such as the deep sea and outer space.
Another theme of the show was the concept of “Wearing Freedom.” It was also expressed by the fact that half of the models on the runway were men, despite it being womenswear, which showed the open mind of diversity within Sakai.
In the middle of the show, shirts made using one of Japan’s traditional techniques, Aizome, made their appearance. The bold and colorful blue “Aizome” shirt, paired with a lame fringe skirt and silver metallic boots, evoked a scene of waves shining in the sunlight.
The finale of the show featured a chester coat made of “Raden-ori,” a traditional Japanese textile made of seashells. The mysterious beauty of the seven-color light that changes depending on the angle of view, unique to “Raden-ori,” captivated the audience.
Sakai was amazed by the beauty of the Sea of Japan in Kyoto, and when she was thinking “I want to express the sparkle of this sea in my collection,” she came across a weaving manufacturer “Tamiya Raden” in the Tango region of Kyoto Prefecture.
“Raden” is a traditional weaving technique from the Tango region of Kyoto Prefecture. The inner mother-of-pearl layer of the shell is shaved into a thin layer and pasted onto a sheet, which is cut into thin threads and woven into a weft thread. Similarly, “Aizome” is a traditional Japanese dyeing technique that involves the cultivation and harvesting of indigo, the making of indigo dye, the production of indigo dye, and the dyeing process.
Sakai believes that the beauty unique to Japan resides in the “pause” and “precision.” She explained that “Raden” and “Aizome”, which are made with a lot of time and effort while interacting with nature, are truly a reflection of Japanese people’s attitude toward precision in their craftsmanship.
An exhibition was also held after the show, which attracted many interested parties who wanted to take a closer look at each of the collections. When OSF asked Sakai about her future outlook as a designer, she said “Through the spirituality of the brand, I want to meet and interact with people with various different values and identities. That is why I will be looking to expand globally.”
Queen & Jack
On August 29, Queen & Jack presented a collection created in collaboration with up-and-coming Japanese designers and Italian artisans.
The Spring/Summer 2024 collection was based on a school style that combines positivity and elegance, with a three-dimensional silhouette with gathers and tucks, sailor collars, pleats, and severed ruffles to create a look sublimated into a mode. Each piece was designed with a twist, and the spirit of the designers to not finish the garment as just one piece of clothing and their attention to materials, sewing, and detailing.
SEVESKIG ／ （un）decided
SEVESKIG/(un)decided will hold a runway show at Tokyo Kinema Club on August 30 under the theme “IF WE BREAK DOWN THE WALLS.
Designer Takanori Nagano repeatedly asked himself about the conflicts and divisions that occur around the world and reflected his inner thoughts on such conflicts in the Spring/Summer 2024 collection. Damaged denim and leather reminded us of wounds caused by conflicts, and a headpiece with a large flower on it seemed to express a prayer or wish for peace.
Cross-stitches, gathers, and shearling was also added, inspired by traditional folk costumes and mythology. Other collaboration items with the anime “Neon Genesis EVANGELION” were also presented.
On September 1, CINOH held a runway show of its 2024 Spring/Summer collection at Shibuya Hikarie. This collection put forth “ambiguity,” which was born from the result of different purposes: “Functionality intentionally incorporated becomes design, and functionality is added by designing details and shapes.
As if to express this theme, each look reflected the paradox of “ambiguity between functionality and design” in every part. For example, the sleeves of trench coats, which should be worn through the arms, were decorated to hang down in the back like a cloak, and buttons that were supposed to serve the function of opening and closing the garment when putting it on and taking it off were simply attached as decoration. Pieces made of sheer material with shimmering lamé were also impressive and included bra tops, cardigans, long skirts, and pants.
This season marks the brand’s 10th anniversary. This is the brand’s return to runway shows after a three-year absence, and the appointment of internationally recognized model Kayako Higuchi for the first look has also caught people’s attention.
On August 29, HARUNOBU MURATA presented its Spring/Summer 2024 collection at the Tokyo National Museum’s Gallery of Horyuji Treasures. Inspired by the portraits of fascinating people captured by Slim Aarons, an American photographer in the 1950s, the theme for this season is “AN INTIMATE PORTRAIT OF THE LIFE”.
The looks presented were a modern everyday wardrobe that blended elegance and sophistication with a touch of lightness. White jersey one-piece dresses, bright blue silk cotton, sheer check knits, and beautiful gradations of silk seemed to reflect the spaciousness and joie de vivre of independent urban women. The large bead-shaped gold necklaces that matched many of the looks were eye-catching as statement pieces and added a touch of flair to the elegance.
FETICO presented a sensual collection for today’s powerful and attractive women under the theme of “Do Not Disturb” at its runway show on September 28. This season’s muse is the somewhat provocative and innocent style of 1990s singer-songwriter and actor Faye Wong and “THE HOTEL” by French contemporary artist Sophie Calle, which the designer saw during a visit to Paris in March.
In this collection, the brand proposed a beautiful skin show of women with abundant use of lace, frills, cut-outs, and sheer materials. By layering such items, the brand added a wearable intimacy to the style that can be incorporated into everyday life.
During the show, sunglasses in collaboration with eyewear brand “BLANC.” and Fetico’s first original bag were also presented.
On September 2, YOHEI OHNO presented its Spring/Summer 2024 collection under the theme of “NEW TOWN NEW CAR,” reflecting the designer Ohno’s feelings toward his hometown and family, and the image of the early Heisei era in which he grew up.
The show opened with a bold dress with a rugby ball-shaped skirt. After that, the show continued with a casual yet pop and playful sporty look that made extensive use of jersey and mesh fabrics.
The finale of the show featured four impactful car body-inspired looks. The inspiration for this collection came from the designer’s childhood memories of seeing his father’s car and the “Cybertruck” by Tesla. Amidst these images of the intersection of the past and the present, the floor-length veil of the last look featured a print of Ohno’s family photo, further accelerating the nostalgic atmosphere of the show.
VIVIANO graced the finale of the runway show on the last day of this season’s Rakuten Fashion Week Tokyo. Designer Viviano Sue titled this Spring/Summer 2024 collection “Le Bel Été” and drew inspiration for it from the 1967 French film “Les Demoiselles de Rochefort,” set in the seaside town of Rochefort in southern France.
The dramatic couture dresses, which symbolize the brand, were full of bright and cheery colors such as blue, pink, and yellow, and the voluminous layers of tulle had a big presence. In the brand’s first denim pieces, tulle ruffles were layered over denim to create a dressy appearance, and tops and jackets were designed with crisp sailor collars to keep denim from looking too heavy.
The show ended in a happy mood as the models skipped on the runway in pairs, making the audience smile.