Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Last Thursday evening Alexander Wang was in Tokyo at the invitation of Adelaide, a trendy boutique in Aoyama. The event was a party thrown in Wang's honor - just one of many honors Alexander Wang has garnered over the years. No stranger to Tokyo Wang spent most of his time working, the party being his first night out on the town mingling with fashion editors and models alike. Wang's busy schedule consisted mostly working with Shiseido on the Maquillage makeup line where he co-developed 12 products including eye shadow, lip stick and lip gloss, which will launch in Japan and Asian in July. When not working Wang enjoys the cafes and boutiques in Daikanyama. Did you go to the party? If so, how was it?
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
It's been a tough year for retail sales in Japan and an even tougher year for fashion and apparel, especially luxury. Most brands so far are seeing same-store sales decrease anywhere from 10%, 30%, 50% and even 70% as well online sales and catalog sales are also down. Department stores which have been in steady decline for the past decade saw sales fall 13.1% to ¥573 billion (from same-store sales 2008). Shopping Center sales also fell this year by 1.2% to ¥2.31 trillion while existing malls fell 8.3%. Men's apparel which was fairing better than women's this year so far is also down about 20%. Is there a bright spot you ask? Well, the only bright spot is really Uniqlo which continued it's growth, rising 7.9% for the fifth consecutive month of same store improvement. A few other companies are doing well too though it's misleading as it is based on new-store sales and everyone knows new-store sales in Japan are always high in the beginning - just take a look at the queues for any new store opening in Japan. Along with falling sales many fashion companies are quietly laying people off across all positions; marketing, PR, communications, MD, Buyers, Product Managers, Retail/Area Managers, Sales Managers, etc... I say quietly as the Japanese media does not really report on the fashion companies laying off people...fear of damaging the brand on the part of the company? And/or fear of losing advertising dollars on part of the publisher? Do you think Japan's fashion & luxury industry has hit rock-bottom? And when do you think you there will be an improvement?
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Hackett, a British men's wear brand opened their first stand alone store in April this year. The store, opened in Marunouchi is their 9th store in total since being established in Japan last year. Owned by a Spanish investment firm, Torreal they plan further expansion as the economy recovers...when the economy recovers.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Following the huge success of Kitsons last year and the signing of Ron Herman by Sazaby League Free's International has recently signed another Los Angeles select shop brand - Planet Blue. Free’s will set up Planet Blue corners in Free’s Shop stores with the first already open on Meiji Dori. Why the sudden popularity for LA brands in Japan? Which brand do you think will open next?
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
For years rumors have been abound that Old Nay, GAP's 3rd core brand in the US would enter the Japan market. Even with the opponents saying the quality isn't good enough, the prices are too cheap and will hurt GAP's core business and that Old Nay is too American - well put the rumors to rest as it looks like Old Navy will not be entering the market anytime soon, instead Japan has gotten GAP USA, a 710sqm no-frills store with basic apparel sold at a price competitive with Uniqlo. GAP understands design and low-cost production well and is utilizing that knowledge to enter the "fast fashion" market and compete against Uniqlo and the bevy of new "fast fashion" companies in Japan, i.e., Forever 21 and H&M. GAP USA is also unique as the geographic target will be in suburban centers rather than cities and in markets that are pretty much untouched like the 1st GAP USA shop in Aeon Mall in Akita. The prices are around 40% cheaper than GAP, with jeans around ¥4,900 and t-shirts
up to ¥1,900. Creating a new concept which leverages the brand value in
the Gap brand but makes a clear distinction between GAP USA will provide GAP with a third brand for its Japanese business, complementing GAP and Banana Republic, and
meeting the huge demand for value fashions in suburbia in Japan.
Monday, May 11, 2009
Forever 21's first shop in Harajuku is off to a strong start with their opening day on the 1st day of Golden Week. The fact this day was a vacation day and not a regular work day helped set up lines of up to 2,000 people waiting to get inside. With prices cheaper than Uniqlo and H&M; jeans ¥1,500 and t-shirts ¥450, Forever 21 was mobbed with happy customers all day. To add a limited and unique air to their products Forever 21 is refreshing their merchandise daily - so you better get yours before it is gone. With this first store being such a hit Forever 21 plans on opening up another 99 stores across Japan in the years to come. Imagine all the signature yellow plastic shopping bags you will see then.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
I used to be a huge shopper, almost shopping everyday. Previously living in Harajuku will do that to you. Walking home past all the different boutiques before closing time, I was invariably drawn into more than a few of them for the random and sometimes not so random purchase. Since I have moved from Harajuku and my tastes have also moved on, I now go to a larger variety of boutiques, department stores, shopping centers and even malls through out Tokyo. For the last several months during the same time of the economic down-swing I have noticed a great emptiness in all of my favorite shopping venues. Not just a regular emptiness but an emptiness on a Saturday afternoon where the shop staff out number the costumers by 2-1 in every store. Even in the stores seeing traffic it's mostly just window shoppers and very little real shoppers. This Golden Week I did my best to add to the economy buy making a few purchases, I wonder what everyone else is doing? Are you shopping or just window shopping and have you seen the same emptiness as I have?