Mickey Mikitani, Chairman and CEO, Rakuten, Inc.

This summer we announced a partnership with Tokyo Fashion Week that will rebrand the biannual showcase of Japanese style as Rakuten Fashion Week Tokyo. We’re proud and honored to partner with one of the world’s premier fashion events. The reasons for this partnership are many and just one of those is about a special connection that takes us back to our roots.

Rakuten was conceived and launched as a platform for small and mid-sized businesses to harness the power of the internet. In our early days, we spent countless hours with mom-and-pop shops, coaching them about online sales tactics and teaching them to use the digital tools we were creating. We even helped some buy and set up their first computers. Our mission was to support these businesses as they ventured into new virtual territory, in search of wider success.

In some ways, our partnership with Rakuten Fashion Week Tokyo is another chapter in that same tale. There is a tremendous depth of design talent in Japan and recognition of that around the world, but many of Japan’s designers say they have difficulty expanding overseas. Those in the fashion community around the world speak highly of the innovation in Japanese design and quality of craftmanship. Yet they talk about coming to Japan to see them.

With our strength in e-commerce, logistics, technology and branding, and our collaborative philosophy, we know we can be a platform to showcase that talent for online users and support Japan fashion’s expansion to the global stage. We do not intend to be just a sponsor, but to be actively involved in promoting Tokyo fashion to the world. To accomplish this, we will target consumers, fashion publications of note, and yes, influencers with our messaging. We know that fashion is moved not just by traditional media, but by a disruptive class of internet influencers who have generated passionate followings.

We see our commitment to fashion going beyond just fashion week. When we launched 22 years ago, we never predicted we’d see billions of dollars of fashion sales on our platform. But today buying fashion items online is a part of our users’ lifestyle, and we’re expanding creative ways to link together the online and offline worlds, connecting users across online platforms and brick-and-mortar stores.

The growth of online fashion is the next wave in a fast-changing industry, and we’re ready to partner with the industry leaders that both guide Japanese fashion and are inspired by local and global trends. Just as we once provided a platform for a generation of small businesses to venture online, we will support a new and dynamic platform for Tokyo’s designers to bring the fruits of their wondrous talents to the world.