Fashion is in fashion at Rakuten. In fact, apparel is already one of Rakuten‘s strongest categories and growing. Thanks to a business model that encourages individuality and creativity, the platform has become a prime destination for brands and apparel shops looking to have control over how they sell their products and for shoppers searching for something unique.
Now, Rakuten is looking to further establish its reputation as a leader of Japan’s online fashion industry with two exciting initiatives.
Saddle up for Rakuten Fashion Week Tokyo
Last month, Rakuten announced its sponsorship of the long-running biannual showcase of Japanese style, Rakuten Fashion Week Tokyo.
At a reception party held in Shibuya, Tokyo that also featured special guests such as Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike and ‘samurai guitarist’ MIYAVI, Rakuten CEO Mickey Mikitani commented “To partner with this landmark fashion event is an enormous opportunity for Rakuten. We want to use every tool at our disposal to support the fashion industry and Japan’s designers.”
“Friends I have in the global fashion industry will always tell me about the many Japanese designers they’re interested in and how they want to come to Japan,” Mikitani related. Yet despite Japan’s wealth of design talent, many creators struggle to make names for themselves outside the country. “Many local designers and brands are having trouble expanding overseas. That’s something we want to support.”
The week begins officially on October 14, but events will begin as soon as early October. Extensive shows, sales and exhibitions of Japanese designers, creators and brands will be open to the public at select locations around the trendy Shibuya, Harajuku and Omotesando districts of Tokyo.
Rakuten Fashion: “Providing the catwalk”
The timing of Rakuten’s sponsorship of Japan’s most influential style event coincides with another major milestone for Rakuten’s fashion merchants. “From October 1, the Rakuten BRAND AVENUE platform, which currently works with over 1,100 fashion brand shops, will be reborn as Rakuten Fashion with a new name and new user experience,” announced Mikitani.
“When we launched 22 years ago, we never predicted we’d see over 600 billion yen in fashion sales,” Mikitani told media. “But nowadays, our users are buying lots of fashion items online— including luxury brands.”
Mikitani outlined a vision to apply Rakuten’s wealth of experience in e-commerce to help bring Japan’s fashion industry online with an open, one-stop platform service. The platform will make use of Rakuten’s payment, inventory management and logistics systems, as well as taking advantage of its experience selling across borders and deploying cutting edge AI technology to predict product demand. “Based on the B2B business we’ve built up over the years, we want to create a platform to support brands and help designers deliver their work to the world.”
Mikitani emphasized Rakuten’s role in the industry as a service provider, rather than a competitor. “We started Rakuten to support small rural merchants, to use the power of the internet to help save businesses in depopulated areas,” he explained. “We grew together with our merchants, but we were simply the platform. With Rakuten Fashion, it’s the same: the brands are the stars, we simply provide the catwalk.”
For more information about Rakuten Fashion Week Tokyo, visit here.