Japanese web bargains, Lagerfeld goes masstige, Richemont sales jump, PVH raises outlook, Wintour’s web

Louis Vuitton Omotosando | Source: Highsnobiety

Web-Bargain Luxury Comes to Japan (WSJ) “For decades, the model for selling luxury imported goods in Japan has been simple: plush surroundings, attentive service—and the ‘Japan premium’… But the cozy system may be cracking, [thanks in part to] third-party websites to jump in with deep discounts.” Karl Lagerfeld cancels Paris show (Catwalk Queen) “Instead, the designer is working on a new

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Manolo for Liberty, Fashion film evolution, Cavalli profits, Lakme links to e-commerce, Real Harajuku girls

Manolo Blahnik at work | Source: Manolo Blahnik

Well heeled: Manolo Blahnik and his left-hand woman (Independent) “As his exclusive collection for Liberty arrives, Manolo Blahnik talks footwear, films and fabrics with his niece and ‘left-hand woman’ Kristina…Since he set up shop in the Seventies Manolo Blahnik has become the world’s most famous artisan shoemaker.” The Evolution of the Fashion Film (WSJ) “‘This is the new

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Flash sales frenzy, Zozotown Japan, Seoul’s empty spaces, Ranking street style bloggers, Enninful’s world

Rue La La Flash Sale Site | Source: Capitolb

Available now, gone in a flash (LA Times) “Private sample sales generated $1 billion last year, a relatively small piece of the $155-billion e-commerce pie. But the category is thriving, with more than $100 million in venture capital flooding into the space in the last six months alone.” Zozotown Gets Japan Fashion Online (WSJ) “Aside from Japanese start-up brands, many high-profile established Japanese brands

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Japanese economy shrinks, H&M sales up, Sombre and 80s in New York, Forever 21 expands concept

The Japanese Flag

Japan’s economy shrinks 3.3% (IHT) The world’s second largest economy is experiencing its worst downturn in 35 years. H&M sales boosted by new openings (Drapers) Driven by new store openings, H&M’s sales rose 9% in January. Sombre start to NYFW (Drapers) “New York Fashion Week got off to a somewhat sombre start on Friday, according to reports from the US, with collection sizes reduced by up to

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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…

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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.…

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Everybody’s Talking About | Comme des Garcons for H&M

TOKYO, Japan and STOCKHOLM, Sweden - Some H&M collaborations of the past (Roberto Cavalli, Viktor & Rolf) were more memorable for the pre-launch buzz and subsequent hysteria around the world than they were for the clothes themselves. So ever since Rei Kawakubo announced her upcoming Comme des Garcons collection for H&M, fashionistas have been wondering whether Kawakubo will bring some of the best of Japanese avant-garde fashion to the masses without diluting her signature style. Well the wait is almost over. W Magazine wrote about the collaboration in its September issue and on Friday, Fashionista.com posted the first photos of the complete collection. In typical lightening speed, the blogosphere has been passing judgment and at first glance, it seems many…

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No Ametora | Why the Neo-Trad Trend Failed to Catch on in Japan

TOKYO, Japan - The crazy kids in Tokyo’s  Harajuku neighborhood often give outsiders an impression that Japanese fashion trends appear organically on the street without any industry prodding. In truth, Japanese fashion magazines still retain an uncanny ability to set seasonal styles on a near-mechanical schedule. Due to industry, media, and consumer coordination unlike anywhere else in the world, Japanese trends change on a dime at the beginning of a season, exactly in the ways delineated by magazines. This system can be awe-inspiring when things go as Japan’s fashion machine intends, but once in a while, the top cannot convince consumers to buy into the template. The most recent example is last year's push for "American traditional” menswear (a la…

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Japanese Women | From Luxury to Yuru-Nachu

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="Photos courtesy of Sean Wood/Mekas"][/caption] TOKYO, Japan - So far, 2008 has been a foreboding year for the European luxury houses in Japan. The sub-prime mortgage crisis has reduced credit lines, rising food prices have decimated discretionary spending, and lower stock prices have convinced the New Rich they aren't so rich after all. Although the Japanese super rich seem unfettered, aspirational customers are staying home and saving their meager incomes for an uncertain future. With wages weaker than ever, the average female 25 year-old (in a salary hierarchy based on age, with an exclusive "management track" decided at time of entry to the company) makes barely enough to pay rent let alone make credit card payments…

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Dunhill Ginza | Welcome home

TOKYO, Japan - "Welcome home." With those words Jun Morimoto, CEO of Alfred Dunhill in Japan, warmly ushered me into the new Alfred Dunhill flagship in Tokyo's Ginza district, where it rubs shoulders with the impressive architecture of some of the world's most famous luxury brands. But all is not rosy in Tokyo's legendary luxuryland, with reports that sales for some international luxury brands in Japan are down as much as 20% versus last year. As Morimoto-san showed me around the store, the first of a few Dunhill 'Home' flagships which will be opening around the world, he also demonstrated how brands like Dunhill are leading the way in adapting their stores and product offering to meet the evolving expectations…

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ICHO | Tailor-made perfection

TOKYO, Japan - While younger Japanese customers may be veering towards local brands that are in tune with prevailing fashion trends, others are looking for something altogether different. They don't care about trends. Their closets are already full. They have bought countless branded luxury items over the years. So, if they are going to spend their money on anything, it has to be perfect. That's where my favourite Japanese tailor comes in. ICHO is a small, family-run business with a spiritual figurehead and designer in the form of Toru Icho, who was born in 1947 in Kyoto, the historical home of some of Japan's best luxury artisans. His son, Mits and daughter-in-law Satoko work full-time to translate Toru's vision into a bonafide…

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Japanese menswear | Packing a stylish punch

TOKYO, Japan - “I wanted to start a movement of new generation, young fashion designers in Japan,” Arashi Yanagawa tells me over coffee in Tokyo’s hip Nakameguro neighbourhood. He is speaking of the genesis of John Lawrence Sullivan, the menswear brand he started almost five years ago. But Arashi hasn't always been a fashion designer. At first, he followed in his father's footsteps and spent 13 years in professional boxing. Then, with no fashion training whatsoever, he used his fight money and worked with local pattern cutters to perfect his first collection of two blazers, using vintage garments as a starting point. As a nod to his former life, he named his brand after the 1880's American bare-knuckle boxer and today, JLS…

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Tokyo | The decline of big-brand luxury

TOKYO, Japan - Once upon a time, for big luxury brands, Japan was the largest and most important market in the world. Japanese customers, young and old, rich and middle-class, would faithfully spend their money on standard Louis Vuitton bags, Hermès scarves and Gucci shoes. These loyal customers could deliver up to 35% of a luxury brand's global revenue, a reliable cash cow, even while the Japanese economy was sputtering in the 1990's and early 2000's. And so, a formula for luxury brands slowly gelled over the years: build gigantic retail temples of luxury, influence the editorial of powerful magazines that have a grip on the Japanese psyche, and appeal to the innate Japanese desire to fit in and show status. But, what…

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