INNOVATION DRIVES FASHION FORWARD

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Luxeco Field Trip 1:Through 4 Japanese Fashion Companies

January 5,2020

As one of the top five fashion capitals of the world, Tokyo has not only gathered first-class design and brands, but also has a developed fashion industry chain -- an integral part of global fashion.

In November, the Luxe.CO team flew to Tokyo to visit the business giant Itochu Fashion System, fabrics giant Asahi Kasei (旭化成), fashion company ADASTRIA, as well as the diversified fashion group New Robin Group for an in-depth discussion to understand the fashion industry in Japan from different aspects.

ADASTRIA

ADASTRIA  is a leisure fashion giant in Japan that owns GLOBAL WORK、niko and …、LOWRYS FARM, HARE, Heather, and more than 20 other fashion brands with different styles and different market segments. In October this year, the company launched their latest brand Elura. By February 28, over the 2018-2019 fiscal year, the company's sales reached 222.66 billion yen (14.5 billion yuan) -- ranking among the top five in Japan's apparel industry. 

"Play fashion!” At its core, ADASTRIA is now focusing on Asia, with more than 1,400 stores in Japan and overseas. The brand niko and … has flagship stores in Tokyo, Taiwan, Seoul and other cities. The total number of users of its independent e-commerce platform dot-st.com is close to 10 million. In addition, ADASTRIA ranked first on the Zozotown (a Japanese e-commerce platform), both in terms of number of stores and total sales. This month (December 2019), a global flagship store of niko and... will open in Shanghai.

Itochu Fashion System

In 1971, Itochu Fashion System (hereinafter referred to as IFS), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Itochu Corporation (a Japanese trading giant and one of the five major integrated trading houses), was established.

At the "China Fashion Forum" held by Luxe.CO and Business France in Paris in October this year, Alicia Yu, founder & CEO of Luxe.CO and Takaaki Komatani, President of IFS, delivered a speech and exchanged views on the theme of "The Asian Market Strategy of European Brands". During this trip, Luxe.CO team had a further exchange with the IFS team to discuss the opportunities and challenges for Japanese brands to expand in overseas markets, especially the Chinese market, and shared the achievements and experiences of both sides in terms of market information integration, brand research, and consumer research.

The IFS team highlighted the results of their research on Japanese consumers. In this systematic and detailed consumer survey, IFS divided Japanese consumers born between 1936 and 2000 into 11 generations, summarizing the basic values, consumption preferences, digital/information and fashion awareness of each generation. For example:

  • The Cinema generation, born in 1936 - 45, takes diligence and frugality as a virtue. They choose to buy the commodities that ordinary people will buy, and then cherish and use them. The fashion keyword is “Elegance”
  • The Hanako generation, born in 1959 - 64, was born in the most prosperous generation of Japanese economy. Consumption is seen as a means to improve one's personal status. As one grows older, the items used must also be upgraded.The fashion keyword is “Luxury”
  • The Line generation, born in 1992 - 96, is defined by "not too much", which means thinking about the people around you without breaking the rules. The fashion keywords are "Kawaii" and "Pop".

Asahi Kasei

In the heart of Tokyo's Chiyoda district, Luxe.CO visited Asahi Kasei, a Japanese giant chemical corporation. Asahi's team provided exclusive access to the Bemberg Museum to Luxe.CO to exchange opinions of fabric innovation and sustainable fashion issues. In recent years, Asahi's cotton filament fiber Bemberg, high-end stretch fiber Roica and other sustainable raw materials have attracted significant market attention. 

Bemberg is the brand name for “cupro”, a regenerated cellulose fiber made from cotton. Asahi Kasei is the world's largest and only cotton filament producer.

Asahi's recycled fibers are widely used by global luxury and fashion brands, especially in men's suits and women's outerwear. In addition, Bemberg is also used in lingerie, sportswear, home textile products and other fields. In the museum, Luxe.CO saw a series of ready-made garments displayed by brands using Bemberg, including Gucci, Moncler and other luxury brands, EVERLANE and JNBY, a Chinese designer brand that also uses these materials.

Bemberg not only has a soft and smooth skin feel, but is also warm in winter and cool in summer without static electricity. The most important factor is its environmental characteristics -- Bemberg products when buried in the soil for just four weeks will start degrading! After being buried, Bemberg material products will decompose -- in summer environmental conditions (temperature 35 degrees, humidity 80), its weight reduces by half after two months as microbial food that goes back to the soil. As its raw materials are natural, even incineration does not produce harmful substances.

At present, Asahi Kasei has already achieved zero waste emissions in the Bemberg production process -- that is, waste generated in the production process is reused as fuel for power generation, and the waste discharged by the factory is fully recovered and reused. In addition, Bemberg's production plants are also equipped with aseismic self-generating equipment. Among them, the proportion of renewable energy such as hydropower and biomass power generation is as high as 40%.

New Robin Group

Finally, Luxe.CO visited the New Robin Group headquarters in Tokyo's Daikansan neighborhood, which houses an integrated event space “Carato 71”. The event space launched the Carato 71 Project, a fashion industry support project, which aims to explore fashion trends and lifestyles over the next decade. It invited people from non-profit organizations, universities, research institutions, enterprises, media and other fields who are active in the fashion industry to participate. Activities undertaken so far include identifying and supporting young brands, holding exhibitions and static exhibitions, workshops, etc.

Founded in 1977, the New Robin Group opened Ms.Reiko's headquarters and showroom in Tokyo just one year later. The Ms.Reiko brand uses Soalon, an artificial plant fabric made of triacetate, with exquisite embroidered leaves as classic design elements.

Since then, the brand has also become the first Japanese apparel company to participate in JETORO's Japan Fair in New York. Ms.Reiko has also opened stores and showrooms in Ginza. The group also actively supports the cultural and garment industries in the Kitakyushu region.

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