MBTF Ticks

>> I don't normally do a specific post pointing out the quirks of such and such a fashion week even though, having been to erm…. fifteen different fashion weeks worldwide, I could easily have compiled some sort of index card dossier on each of them.  Tokyo Fashion Week though, despite the image that it's incredibly domestic-focused and supposedly closed off from the outside world, has its definite perks that fashion weeks all over could certainly take a cue card from.  It may be that now Mercedes Benz has taken it under its evergrowing portfolio of international fashion week, there'll be changes which, I can only think will be for the better as I'm enjoying the luxury of a car that can get me to as many appointments as possible.  However, JFW as an internal operation (it used to be called Japan Fashion Week but after renaming, the name has become the organisation's moniker – kind of like the BFC or the CFDA) has certainly instilled a few things in their six year history that should hopefully remain…

– SHOWS START ON TIME.  Well, more or less.  My universal half-an-hour-late rule has been scuppered.  Doors open half an hour before and most people are seated ten minutes before the show starts.  My helpful hosts have been ushering me to seats twenty minutes beforehand giving me time to actually breathe as opposed to rushing in ten minutes after start time with sweat patches and clumsily tripping over people's feet.  

– At the Tokyo Fashion Week desk, I notice there are stacks of tickets for shows that still have standing space left for people to take if they so wish.  Standing isn't a raw deal at most MBTF shows as there are only one or two rows at the shows and this is a brilliant way for first time goers/newbies to come along and grab themselves a ticket. 

– Business cards rule all.  I haven't quite perfected my business card exchange etiquette yet but I'm definitely fast running out of my heaving stack (I have SERIOUSLY thick cards…), a day and a half into this trip.  People here actually pay attention to them and don't just chuck them away after politely accepting them.  I've already received prompt replies to lookbook and press release requests after scattering my cards about for one day.  

– This isn't so much a fashion week quirk as it is a general etiquette thing.  I've been doing a few media interviews and people provide FOOOOOOOOD.  A box of cookies, some sweeties and water goes down a treat when they're about to ask the all-important, ever-unanswerable "Where do you see fashion blogging going?" question (I'm sometimes after tempted to childishly answer with "It's going NORTH-WEST!") 

– Many of the shows are not simply straight-forward down-the-runway formats.  There have been performance elements or certain lighting features or an interesting set at a lot of the shows that do elongate the shows but you're happy to sit there for longer.  You can see why Comme des Garcons shows used to be an hour long…

– I now finally understand why the Japanese shows in Paris tend not to allow backstage access before the show (I still heart you Comme and Junya…).  In general, backstage access is pretty strict.  Appparently my hosts said that the Japanese designers tend not to like to show the in-process stages of a collection and prefer to show the final perfect product and so afterwards, the designer will come out for interviews and we, journos surround him/her in a semi-circle to ask questions in a democratic press conference type thing.  I'm so used to falling in line and letting Sarah Mower or Tim Blanks do their thing (there's an unspoken hierarchy in backstage interviewing…) that this was a novelty asking questions along with everyone else…



(Spot the odd one out: I bunged in a "Oh look, the sky is so pretty/scary looking….!" shot that I took at Harajuku yesterday…)

15 Replies to “MBTF Ticks”

  1. The Japanese approach to fashion week seems fairer and generally more logical and organised. I also think it’s great that they make fashion week more accessible to those that don’t work in the industry. London, New York, Paris and Milan should really take note!

  2. Ohhh this was so interesting to read!
    I am a real Japan freak (seriously, to sickness limits) and being also quite a fashion lover and blogger I am going crazy for Tokyo fashion week (namely: jumping everywhere on the blogosphere and google to look for related articles and crazily blogging and drawing about the collections)so I really enjoy your articles on the subject.
    Everything you write here sounds soooo Japanese (like that they’re obsessed with business cards, even students sometimes have one O__O), but I find that even the backstage thing alone really gives a full picture of Japanese people approach to communication and showcasing their creations and works.
    When I went to Japan for the first time I knew that speaking English was a bit difficult there but I was surprised to see that not even University students wanted to speak English with me. But then I was explained that they do know English, they just prefer not to speak it if they feel that they don’t master the language perfectly(if they’re not forced to by business or important communication circumstances).
    It’s the first thing I thought when you said that they don’t want to show to the world the “work in progress” phase of a fashion show: if it’s not perfect and finished it shouldn’t go out and be seen. It’s really beautiful because it shows how deeply they care about the overall feelings that a creation gives, from the runway soundtrack to the make-up, they really want to create a full atmosphere.
    It really made me smile because it’s yet another thing that makes Japanese fashion so peculiar and so different from the Western one.
    All of this (the being perfectly on time, the business cards, the overall care for guests and people that want to attend the shows, the not allowing backstage access…)shows how incredibly serious they take their job and their creations and puts the clothes themselves under a complete different light.
    Thanks for sharing 🙂
    (and sorry for my bad English, unlike Japanese people I just speak and even too much XD )
    -The Red Dot-

  3. Oh this is real interesting! Indeed I can imagine how nice it is to have a car at your disposal for each show. I can definitely see why and how the Japanese are way more organized than your average fashion show.

  4. Dear Susie Bubble.
    You should try fashion shows in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. We have a beautiful traditional clothes merging with modern needs, becoming a fine haute couture even. Love reading your thoughts and posts, keep it up!

  5. Thanks for the feedback, really interesting. For my jewelry brand, I sometimes meet with Japanese buyers and it’s so a different culture that I’m complete lost (and also a bit paranoid) during the meetings!

  6. Sounds like their approach is much more organised, which is something I always appreciate. I also love that (according to you) they start things on time. I really dislike when people are late and/or have the habit of being late, it’s just rude and it feels like they think you’re not worth the effort.
    I love your website, by the way. But I guess you hear it all the time.. haha

  7. Wow this sounds interesting, are there many bloggers there? It’s great that they have more standing tickets available, such a great experience for those starting out.

  8. Hey, awesome to see promotion of Japan. I am in my 4th year living here and love it! And everything is indeed on time (to the point when I’m back in England I get quite stressed at the trains, heh).
    As to business card etiquette; hand your business card with a slight bow of the head to the other person with BOTH hands. When you take their business card again do it with both hands and a bow of the head. Take time to read the card then put it away safely, don’t just shove it in your back pocket!
    Hope this helps anyone doing business dealings in Japan. It’s one of the first things we learn out here.
    Also also, did not realise you could just walk into the shows if you can get a ticket. OMG! Am so in Tokyo next FW 😀
    Jen xxx

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