All photographs courtesy of Taro Mizutani
Thanks to the global pandemic and its ripple effects, the world’s top fashion weeks have been forced to style themselves a little differently this year. But that hasn’t stopped the headline sponsor of Rakuten Fashion Week TOKYO 2021 Spring/Summer from doing everything it can to support the fashion industry and empower Japanese designers.
Over the past month, Rakuten launched two intriguing initiatives targeting both established and emerging fashion brands — Rakuten Fashion Luxury and the “by R” project. Announced in advance of Rakuten Fashion Week TOKYO 2021 Spring/Summer, which concluded on October 17, Rakuten hopes its bold dual strategy will help it win over more of the world’s top luxury brands while raising the profile of Japan’s rising designers.
A new home for luxury brands
In August of last year, Rakuten became the headline sponsor of Tokyo Fashion Week and shortly thereafter launched a new Rakuten Fashion strategy that showcased its services as a one-stop shop for fashion brands in search of a comprehensive e-commerce platform. One year later and with over 1200 fashion brand shops on its roster, Rakuten Fashion has launched a new specialty website for luxury brands and designer goods.
Dubbed “Rakuten Fashion Luxury” and launched on October 6, the website offers collections from Marc Jacobs, Kenzo, Fred and Givenchy Beauty, among others, and aims to offer brands a simple approach to e-commerce that is both elegant and modern, while also leveraging the platform to promote new shops, events and products.
How “by R” aims to spotlight up-and-coming Japanese fashion labels
Japanese design and designers have long been revered as industry trendsetters. Japan’s fashion industry is admired for its Galapagos effect, or ability to evolve largely independently from the rest of the world. The results are often interesting, unique, innovative, or, in the best cases, all of the above. And in an industry that is constantly trying to find new ways to go beyond the basic function of clothing people, unearthing the next big trend is like striking gold.
As Japan’s leading e-commerce company, Rakuten has had a special view on the fashion industry and is betting big on its future. In late September, Rakuten announced the establishment of the “by R” project, which aims to showcase Japanese fashion labels to a broader global audience and to help promote the company’s eponymous fashion week events. For Rakuten Fashion Week TOKYO 2021 S/S, Rakuten partnered with emerging Japanese labels Doublet and Facetasm, offering them planning and event management assistance for their fashion shows, as well as streaming the shows on the Rakuten Fashion website.
Doublet designer Masayuki Ino commented, “It has been three and a half years since we last took part in Tokyo Fashion Week. We announced a new line at the digital Paris Fashion Week held in July, but we are leveraging the ‘by R’ framework to do things we could not do ourselves and bring a fresh, new approach to our presentation. We are looking forward to delivering an additional layer of excitement to Rakuten Fashion Week TOKYO.”
Facetasm designer Hiromichi Ochiai shared, “For the past few years we have competed in Milan, Paris and elsewhere, but in a year when people’s values and social norms have been turned on their heads, I feel there is significance in holding a show in Tokyo for the first time in six years. We aim to convert the moments and memories we have experienced into a powerful creative force.”
Building momentum heading into 2021
Before the leaves have even fallen from the trees in early autumn, the fashion industry is already anticipating (and creating) the looks that will be in vogue next Spring and Summer.
In a year so full of disruption, Rakuten’s new initiatives provide encouragement, forecasting optimism and opportunity for fashion brands in Japan and around the world. Thanks to projects like “by R” and the creativity and ambition of Japanese labels like Facetasm and Doublet, Japanese fashion clearly has a bright future.