Interview with Akira Kawashima

Face2Face
Akira Kawashima
Akira Kawashima
Senior Director- Textile Division
Japan Fashion Week Organization
Japan Fashion Week Organization

Japanese domestic fashion market will not expand

The Japan Fashion Week Organization (JFW) was set up in 2005 with the cooperation of textile and apparel manufacturers, fashion designers and distributors to strengthen and develop the international competitiveness of Japan's textile and fashion industries. JFW hosts events like the Amazon Fashion Week Tokyo, the Premium Textile Japan, and the JFW Japan Creation. Akira Kawashima, senior director of JFW's textile division, speaks about the quintessential Japanese high street fashion and the need for the native designers, companies and brands to go international.

What is the size of the Japanese fashion industry? What is the expected growth rate in the industry in the next three to five years?

Japan's fashion market is worth nearly $90 billion, the 3rd largest followed by China at the top and the United States at the second rank. The domestic market will remain at about this level at the maximum due to a decline in birthrate and an aging population, and therefore, the fashion industry needs to intensify export business.

What is JFW's current focus? What will be on its agenda next year?

The main focus is on export business and incubation of young and new creators and designers. Government support and development of human resources are to be restructured for this operation.

How have fashion weeks in Japan evolved since the inception of JFW in 2005? What has changed and what still prevails?

Branding of Japanese textiles has successfully progressed ever since the launch of JFW with international development in Tokyo, Shanghai, Milan and New York.

What is the biggest USP of a Japanese designer?

Based here in Japan, they have the benefit of getting in touch with the most unique and differentiated textile suppliers in the world.

What do buyers expect from Japanese fashion designers? Which regions do international buyers at fashion weeks hail from?

Japanese unique street mode fashion attracts buyers' interest because those are different from elegance or any mode in Europe and the United States. International buyers come from Europe, the United States and emerging Asian countries.

How conscious are Japanese consumers to buying environment-friendly and sustainable fashion?

Japanese consumers are sensitive to food that affects human body directly and air pollution. However, they have not paid much interest to problems in manufacturing of fashion products in the past. Recently, attention towards traceability has been slowly and gradually picking up.

What are the kinds of fabric that companies source from Japanese manufacturers at Premium Textile Japan (PTJ)?

The varieties of fabrics offered by Japanese suppliers that cannot be sourced from any other country are always in demand.  Other products and attributes include premium quality, unique textured design and various hand feel of wool and its blends, cotton and its variations, denim, silk, man-made fibres, lace and embroidery, printing, craftsmanship of finishing and knitting fabrics.

Tell us briefly about the latest innovations showcased at Jetro's first Textile Salon held in the beginning of this year.

With a focus on developing sales and distribution channels in the US market, 22 top Japanese textile suppliers showcased at Jetro's first independent show, 'Japan Textile Salon in NYC', on January 17 this year in association with JFW. Successful meetings with buyers from top American brands and designers have been made for Japanese novelty textiles with innovations and craftsmanship in use of natural and sustainable materials, unique finishing and technical fabrics.

What would be the top three trends dominating Japan's fashion scene? Have global movements like women's march and genderless fashion had an impact on this industry?

The top three trends are: 
  • Fusion of sports and fashion as represented by athleisure
  • Sustainability
  • Diversification of attitude among people toward fashion products
Regarding social movements, we have had gender-free fashion for many years. So we do not regard it as a new movement. Women's march or any other protest will not affect the fashion scene in Japan.

What are the future plans at JFW?

JFW will intensify support from the country's fashion industry to activate the domestic market and drive forward international activities by Japanese textile and fashion companies. (HO)
Published on: 23/03/2018

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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