In April 2019, Kaoru Imajo took over as Japan Fashion Week Organization’s director from the former director of international relations, Akiko Shinoda , with whom he worked while at Itochu Fashion System, a consultancy branch of Japanese trading giant Itochu.
Imajo graduated with a BA in Administration Engineering from Keio University in Tokyo. He was a project leader at Itochu Fashion System, where Imajo was heavily involved with Tokyo Fashion Week, working on shows and showrooms both inside and outside of Japan, as well as the Tokyo Fiber Expo, the Tokyo Fashion Award and the Fashion Prize of Tokyo. Itochu owns license agreements for brands like Converse and Vivienne Westwood in Japan and is an investor in British menswear label Paul Smith .
In his current role as director of Japan Fashion Week Organization, which was established in 2005, Imajo oversees the cooperation that hosts Premium Textile Japan and Tokyo Fashion Week, which was previously sponsored by Amazon. When Amazon’s contract came to an end, Imajo helped broker the deal with Japanese e-commerce platform Rakuten as the next sponsor, just a few months after joining JFWO, championing a more local focus for Tokyo Fashion Week.
“We have been talking with Rakuten team for a while and everything [pointed to] the right timing,” Imajo told BoF. “Many insiders told us they wanted a Japanese company to be our title [sponsor], so I’m glad that it’s happening.”
Tokyo Fashion Week has risen to become the world’s fifth-most influential fashion week, whose Amazon partnership attracted the likes of Sacai, Undercover and Ambush to the city. Imajo has also helped to produce innovative fashion shows by using AR/VR techniques with BED j.w. FORD and with yoshiokubo, implementing a NFT presentation.