updated 16 Mar 2013, 14:19
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Wed, Mar 06, 2013
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by Leslie Kay Lim

Eighteen Japanese brands made their debut in Singapore last Friday with a series of pop-up shops in Plaza Singapura.

Part of an inaugural event called Hello, Shibuya Tokyo, the shops, which will open till March10, are part of an effort to showcase top Japanese designers in Asia.

Brands such as Anrealage, Mintdesigns and Matohu are familiar names at Tokyo Fashion Week, but are not well-known outside Japan. The high-end streetwear brands were chosen for their global appeal as well as their roots in the fashionable Shibuya district, whose theme the event was planned around.

While they do sell cheaper pieces, the bulk of the items at the pop-up shops are priced from $200 to $600.

Organised by mall retailer Parco Japan, the event features more than 20 shops, including those dedicated to tie-ups with home-grown players and designers from the Parco Next Next fashion incubation programme. There is also an exhibit by young Japanese and Singapore female artists and a fashion show put on by Anrealage and Mintdesigns.

Organisers said foot traffic and sales last weekend exceeded expectations.

Almost 8,000 shoppers passed through the stores, and about $62,000 in sales were rung up, double what the retailers expected.


Mr Takashi Sensui, executive officer of Parco Japan's new business planning group, explained that Japan has a lot to offer Singapore, fashion-wise.

"There's so much more between Comme des Garcons and Uniqlo," he said, naming two of Japan's most famous fashion exports.

The event is supported by the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry as part of its 2012 Cool Japan Strategy Promotion.

Mr Sensui added: "We want to ride the wave of 'Cool Japan' and use Singapore as a window to the rest of South-east Asia."

If the event goes well, it will reinforce Parco Japan's plans to expand into the region by bringing in selected brands, and help them decide where to go next.

Designer Nao Yagi of Mintdesigns, too, views Singapore as a springboard to the region.

"Singapore is an important position for our brand's growth in Asia," she said, describing the city as a business centre that also serves as a gateway to South-east Asia.


While Ms Yagi and Mintdesigns' co-designer, Mr Hokuto Katsui, have no plans to set up shop here yet, showcasing their clothes would help them build brand awareness and catch the eye of potential distributors here, they say.

The 12-year-old brand, which focuses on prints and textiles, has an established market in Taiwan but little presence in South-east Asia besides having select pieces stocked at Club 21.

Organisers are hopeful that this Hello, Shibuya Tokyo event will become a talking point.

Parco Japan's head of content, Mr Yugo Hiramatsu, said: "Regardless of sales, we benefit by growing our presence. We would consider it a success if it gets people talking."

While they do not have plans to make it an annual event yet, they would like to come back again in some form.

Asked what made Singapore appealing, Anrealage's designer, Mr Kunihiko Morinaga, compared it with other regional markets.

He said some Indian cities, while growing, have not reached a "fashion awakening" yet. On the other hand, a city such as Hong Kong has already forged an identity, fashion-wise.

Sitting between the two is Singapore, he said. "I think Singapore has the most fashion potential right now."

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