April 2, 2017 3:00 pm JST

Tokyo Girls Collection charms its way into many hearts -- and wallets

Biannual fashion extravaganza pushes 'see now, buy now'

AKANE OKUTSU and MAO KAWANO, Nikkei staff writers

TOKYO -- With around 100 million related tweets in just one day and YouTube videos viewed 1 million times, Japan's biggest fashion event seems to be doing OK as it moves into its 12th year.

According to organizers, all 30,000 tickets sold out for Tokyo Girls Collection 2017 Spring/Summer at Yoyogi National Stadium on March 25, just a stone's throw from Tokyo's fashion mecca of Harajuku. 

Since making its debut in August 2005, the biannual event has managed to keep up with constantly changing trends and a high turnover of fans by bringing on board the latest brands, models and TV personalities.

The 24th edition was no exception. Every time the likes of Yu Yamada, Maggy and Nicole Fujita appeared on stage, the audience burst into cheers.

And the show's tried and tested "see now, buy now" business model -- where collections are available immediately after appearing on the catwalk -- seemed to work as well as usual. The approach has inspired similar shows in New York and Paris.

The organizers are now preparing to take Japan's "kawaii culture" overseas by holding a first TGC New York show in 2018.

In an era of budget-conscious consumers, TGC can offer some valuable insights into how purse strings can be loosened.

One 19-year-old student at the show excitedly talked about the cute Emoda line worn by pop star Mai Shiraishi. "I want to go to see it at 109," she said, referring to the most chic department store in the Japanese capital's Shibuya district.

Shiraishi appeared with other members of girl group Nogizaka46 in clothes they had coordinated themselves.

The show works because the clothes on display can be bought at both brick-and-mortar stores or online the minute the model steps off the catwalk.

Nogizaka46's outfits went on sale at Shibuya109 the same day, as did multiple other brands that had partnered with TGC.

March 26 was a busy day at the iconic building. One 24-year-old woman looking at flowery dress at the Wego casual brand's store said she had come after watching a live stream of TGC the previous day.

"I am a big Nogizaka46 fan. Their clothes were cute. I came here to buy some after checking them out online," she said. Other partner brands like Cecil McBee seemed just as popular.

Social media and the internet are part of life for TGC's target market of twenty-something females, and the show has taken full advantage.

Fans can buy what they see on the catwalk all but immediately by accessing each brand's store through the TGC website .

Samantha Thavasa Japan's Redyazel brand was making its TGC debut this year. The company said that a dress worn by TV star Mirei Kiritani and a number of other items had sold out on its online store.

The show has also harnessed the marketing power of the fans themselves. "I am here, so I've got to post something," said a 23-year-old before making one of the 100 million tweets.

"At TGC with Mako-chan!" read a tweet by twenty-year-old Manae Kato, another "online influencer," who was at the show with her friend.

TGC's growing popularity comes at a time when the Japanese apparel industry is stuck in the doldrums. Many industry players pin high hopes on TGC.

The show's influence makes it a highly competitive platform for would-be exhibitors, and a simple business pitch will get nowhere in securing a spot at the show.

Organizers meticulously study current trends and only accept brands they deem suitable.

DLE, the company behind "Eagle Talon" and other anime characters, acquired the trademark for TGC in 2015. Its subsidiary W Tokyo runs the event.

DLE now positions TGC as one of its core businesses and is seeking all possible avenues to promote the event, including by starting video streaming through the Line free call and messaging app.

Online influencers are a big part of the company's strategy. Through them, DLE can send information on the products of its corporate clients throughout the event in real time.

The concept has drawn growing interest from companies beyond the fashion industry as a new way to connect with young customers. Sales from the service expanded fivefold in 2016 from 2015, according to DLE.

There were about 20 booths at the latest TGC show. Most had a photography space where visitors could pose for pictures.

Cosmetics brand Lululun had set up there space so that people could pose for snaps with amid falling flower petals. Anyone who waited in line to do so was rewarded with free product samples if if they posted their picture with the hashtag #Lululun.

In a country that is not short of material goods, many people have become less fashion-conscious and are less likely to spend big on looking good.

TGC, however, is doing a pretty good job of making young people feel like they want to part with their cash.

 

 

DLE, Inc.

Japan

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