Ms. Janelle Okwodu, Senior Fashion News Writer of VOGUE.COM visited Japan during the Amazon Fashion Week TOKYO 2018 A/W term, by invitation from JETRO. This was her 3rd visit to fashion week, she is very well-informed in the Japanese fashion scene, through interviews of Tokyo designers and models individually, during her past visits. We’ve asked her on changes in Tokyo fashion since her first visit to the present, characteristics of Japanese designers, and topics in the fashion industry which she is especially interested in.
Since your first visit to Tokyo fashion week during the 2016 S/S season term, this is your 3rd visit. Have you felt any changes during these 2.5 years?
In my first visit, I had the impression that it was mainly collections with strong sports or athletic, street tastes, but this season, I’ve seen many romantic, feminine pieces also, and have the impression that it has become richer in variety. In addition, up to now, I had only been able to check the stylings of fashion industry related people at the show venues, but this being my 3rd Tokyo, I now have room to look around and observe the daily stylings of people walking down the street. Compared to New Yorkers, I felt the people of Tokyo do not wear gaudy flashy stylings to gather attention from the people around them, and the majority wear subdued stylings.
Of the shows you’ve seen this season, are there any brands which left an impression?
Of the shows I’ve seen so far, Mame Kurogouchi was impressive. I felt the brand’s world view was unique, unlike any other brand, and their method of presentation was very nice, too. The venue setting of GROWING PAINS was unique, and I felt a lot of energy. Also, the clothing of YOHEI OHNOwas extremely beautiful. I felt it was a creation in which much time and consideration was put into making the perfect fit, and I think the accessory designs were extremely nice also.
What do you intend to convey about this term’s Tokyo fashion week in VOGUE.COM?
I’m thinking of mainly writing reviews of impressive collections, along with my thoughts on this term’s whole fashion week. I also plan to introduce interviews to designers and models, Tokyo street snaps, and articles on parties held during the term.
From your experience in interviewing Japanese designers, is there anything you felt?
If I were to raise one common tendency among Japanese designers, it would be that they all have profound respect towards Japanese production and craft. Japanese designers are well informed in their countries productive ability, fashion history, background, and through my interviews, I strongly feel they are very proud of it. This is not a tendency seen in many cities. For example, it is not uncommon for New York designers to know very little about the history of American fashion or production.
How is the reaction of the readers of VOGUE.COM towards articles on Japanese fashion or Tokyo fashion week?
I think the reaction is good. Readers of VOGUE.COM are interested in fashion scenes around the world, not just New York, so they have strong interests in finding out the present fashion trends of Tokyo.
Do you feel any changes in the reader’s interests in recent years?
I feel readers have become wiser, and their demands are getting higher. Being surrounded by such an enormous amount of information, I think readers are beginning to look for more fresh, new, unknown information in each article.
Under such conditions, in the future, what kind of role do you think will be demanded of VOGUE.COM as a fashion media?
In such times in which any kind of information can be gathered easily through the internet, I think our role is to provide readers with information with value, in a comprehensive form. Although readers can acquire lots of information, they still feel they are missing something, or find it difficult to judge which information is important or not, so I think it is important for us to sort out and edit the vast information for them.
Are there any brands or topics you are presently especially interested in?
I’m focusing on a London based brand called Halpern. Because of my occupation, I tend to look at fashion with a serious eye, this brands collection represented by beautiful spangled dresses, makes me feel happy just looking at it, and I think the designer is extremely talented. Other than that, I think the runway of New York’s Gypsy Sport is full of energy and fabulous. In New York, Gabriela Hearst and Chromat are also important brands, announcing eccentric collections. There is also MATTHEW ADAMS DOLAN which mainly offers denim with unique silhouettes, ADAM SELMAN with their attractive collection combining aspects of totally different pop-cultures, and others. Once I start listing them, there’s really no limit (laugh). I’m also looking forward to what kind of collection Riccardo Tisci, newly appointed to Burberry, will announce.
The main sponsor to Tokyo fashion week has changed to Amazon Fashion from the 2017S/S season. Any thoughts on this?
I think, Amazon participating in the fashion industry is a very good thing. Amazon is a globally famous company, so I think it will have great power in transmitting the fashion week in Tokyo to the world, and it is a blessing that they are sponsoring show venues and prospective brands. The IT industry in which Amazon belongs as many aspects which overlap with the fashion industry, and I feel the two get along well. Globally, the IT industry has the most vigor, with many cool and new services and products being born. I think it is fabulous for fashion to collaborate with such fields.
In recent years, due to modern technology, it has become possible to view runway shows from around the world in real-time. Under such situations, how do you think fashion shows will change from here-on?
In this season’s New York collection, there was a brand which developed an application which allowed for users to vote on the look they liked. Like in this example, by utilizing modern technology, the brand side can grasp more detailed needs of consumers, and on the other hand, through smart phones and other mobile devices, consumers get to gather information on brands 24hrs a day, making it unnecessary for them to call and ask on arrival of goods they saw on the runway or magazines, like they used. From here-on, not just for fashion shows but also in other places, I am sure the distance between brands and consumers will continue to get closer.
INTERVIEW by Yuki Harada
INTERPRETATION by Aiko Osaki