Japan’s Premium Pricing Problem

Coach Kristin Leather Hobo Bag | Source: Coach

TOKYO, Japan — In the United States, the Coach Kristin Leather Hobo bag retails for $298. In Japan, the same bag costs $711 (¥59,850). This disparity in pricing is not unique to Coach. Premium and luxury fashion brands based outside Japan have long charged Japanese consumers a significantly higher price than in other markets for the same goods. But today, due to a strong yen and greater visibility of global pricing thanks to the

…Continue Reading

In Tokyo, Abercrombie Misses Its Mark

Abercrombie & Fitch, Ginza | Source: Fashionsnap.com

TOKYO, Japan — After several years of “will they or won’t they” speculation, American casual fashion retailer Abercrombie & Fitch finally opened its first retail store in Japan this past December. The 11-story shop in Tokyo’s upscale Ginza neighbourhood is just steps away from Uniqlo’s flagship store and Swedish fast fashion brand H&M. As with every big retail opening in Tokyo, the first day of sales saw long lines of

…Continue Reading

Uniqlo | A Feel-Good Commodity

The colours of Uniqlo | Source: Uniqlo

TOKYO, Japan — For the last two years, the inverted black triangle — Japan’s version of the minus sign — has infected monthly earnings reports at most of the nation’s retail chains. The global recession has been almost universally bad for the apparel market. Japanese customers are just not spending on fashion like they used to. There’s one exception, of course: Uniqlo.  For the fiscal year ending in August 2009,

…Continue Reading

Friday Column | Japanese Luxury Fatigue

Prada flagship store in Omotesando, Tokyo

LONDON, United Kingdom — The scariest news I have recently read about luxury was in Tuesday’s Financial Times. The Japanese, it seems, have stopped buying luxury goods. Luxury imports in Japan were down 10 percent and sales of LVMH in the country were down 18 percent in the first quarter. And no, it’s not just the recession. “This is not a blip. This is a long-term shift in the market,” Brian Salsberg, the

…Continue Reading

Japan Fashion Week | Not prime time

Somarta A/W 09, courtesy of Coutorture

TOKYO, Japan — Japan Fashion Week (JFW) is nearing its end, but has anyone really noticed that it started? While the entire cities of Paris, Milan, and New York seem to get completely swept up in the glamour of their respective fashion weeks, the average Tokyo citizen is most likely unaware that Japan Fashion Week is currently happening. This is very odd, considering that Tokyo is obsessed with designer fashion to an extent seen

…Continue Reading

Uniqlo | Reigning Supreme

Photo by Sean Wood, courtesy of MEKAS

TOKYO, Japan — 2008 turned out to be an incredibly successful year for Uniqlo — and Uniqlo alone. The Japanese media can no longer mention the mass retailer without using the word hitorigachi — meaning “sole winner” or “to reign supreme.” In a toxic retail environment, where most major apparel chains experienced 10-15 percent declines in same-store sales for December, Uniqlo finished the year up 10.3

…Continue Reading

Q&A | The lowdown on H&M Comme des Garçons

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="Comme des Garçons for H&M"][/caption] TOKYO, Japan - Back in September, H&M experienced one of the most successful Japanese market entries in recent history, with its first store in Ginza drawing incredible mass media coverage and never-ending lines. Now two months later, H&M will open its next Japanese store on November 8 in the youth fashion district of Harajuku. Japanese customers lucky enough to make it through the long queue on Saturday morning will be the first worldwide to be able to buy the latest limited-edition guest-collaboration line: H & M COMME des GARÇONS. For the rest of the world, H&M Comme des Garçons will debut on November 13 in more than 200 H&M stores around…

…Continue Reading

H&M | Swedish fast fashion finally comes to Japan

TOKYO, Japan - After two years of intense rumours and breathless anticipation, Swedish fast fashion giant H&M finally opened its first Tokyo store on September 13 in the ritzy neighborhood of Ginza, right down the street from competitors Zara and Uniqlo. When the staff cut the ribbon at 11 a.m., somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 Japanese customers (mostly young women) waited in line for their chance to visit the 1,000 square-metre, four-story retail space. Now, twelve days later, the lines continue to stay long, with around 8,000 people visiting the store daily. An incredible success? Although these long lines may help pay back the reported ¥2 billion launch expenditures, a little perspective is required to know what it all means.…

…Continue Reading

Japan Fashion Week | Under the radar

TOKYO, Japan - Just before the fashion world turned its laser focus on New York, a lesser known semi-annual week of fashion shows in Tokyo failed to garner much attention. Not surprisingly then, a key activity during Japan Fashion Week is listening to other people grumble about Japan Fashion Week. Although Tokyo is one of the world's most important fashion cities, overflowing with amazing daily dressers, avant-garde masters, and street fashion innovation, the organized collection week has yet to muster up a global impact on par with Paris, Milan, or New York. And the problem is not just international reception: most of the cooler domestic Japanese brands aren't even on board. Long ago, there was a very loose event called…

…Continue Reading