October 2015 FEW meeting recap: The Art and Culture of Style and Fashion in Japan – Thursday, October 8, 2015
Recap by Kaisa Ahopelto, FEW Vice President
October is the month of Fashion Week Tokyo, Japan’s most famous fashion festival, and at our monthly meeting, we brought together three inspiring ladies – each of them working with fashion in their own different way.
Philomena Keet, an anthropologist and author, first moved to Japan to study its peculiar fashion scene. By working side by side with hunters, photographers taking pictures of Harajuku-style fashionistas for FRUITS and TUNE magazines, Philomena developed a sense of Harajuku style. This was all groundwork for her PhD thesis “Mimicking in a Material World: Negotiating Stylish Selves and Networks in the Tokyo Youth Fashion Scene”, and later lead to her writing “The Tokyo Look Book”, which takes readers on a dazzling journey through the streets, clubs, and boutiques of this trendsetting city to introduce us to the people who wear the latest fashions and the people who make them. Philomena also took attendees back in time to her days on Harajuku’s streets, showing pictures of these stylish Tokyo fashionistas. She’s currently working on her second book: “Tokyo Fashion City”, which is more of a guide to different fashion districts in Tokyo.
Makiko Shimotori is a personal stylist running her own company “Shimotori Personal Styling Office”. She has worked with 8 000 clients in the seven years since branching our on her own! Makiko shared with us the diverse nature of her work, which encompasses everything from styling wealthy clients to performing color analyses, writing magazine and newspaper columns, hosting talk shows, and tidying her clients’ closets. She’s also developing a new mobile app called “Styling Me”, which will be out in November, and running her own clothing brand “SPSO”. Talk about multitasking! Makiko shared with us some stylish ways to wear a scarf, every woman’s go-to accessory when the colder weather hits (see pictures). According to her, “clothes can be seen as a substitute for business cards”, and correct clothing for different occasions is very important.
Akiko Shinoda is the Director of International Affairs at Japan Fashion Week Organization. With many years of experience in both importing European fashion into Japan, and more recently in promoting Japanese fashion abroad, she is a veteran in the Tokyo fashion scene. Shinoda-san has organized promotional events at Pitti Uomo in Milan, and at Paris Fashion Week to showcase Japanese fashion to the world. Encouraging young Japanese creators to try out overseas markets is close to her heart.
We learned that the Japanese government previously supported over 200 manufacturers directly, but now government support is guided via Japan Fashion Week. And did you know that 60-70% of the fabrics used by European designers showcasing their creations in Paris Fashion Week are actually made in Japan? Shinoda-san is also one of the founding members of “Women’s Empowerment in Fashion”, an organization whose mission is to promote women’s empowerment in the often women-led fashion and apparel industry.
In the discussion that followed our speakers’ presentations, we learned that this year Japan Fashion Week will be all about genderless simple design, where men can wear skirts, and women can dress in masculine attire. A sign of an equal fashion world, in a sense, after all?
All the attendees were also kindly invited by Shinoda-san and her team to “Bloomin for Independent Women”, a fashion event held as part of Fashion Week events at Isetan Salone in Tokyo Midtown and organized by The Republic of South Africa Embassy with supported from 19 female ambassadors to Japan, WEF and JFWO, among others.
Thank you all for joining!
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