Far from the flashbulbs of Tokyo fashion week, Yoshio Yokobori is juggling multiple roles — talent scout, cultural interpreter, dealmaker — in a quest to help foreign buyers navigate a labyrinthine design landscape and access Japan’s most exciting underground labels.
Although Tokyo’s streets offer up a wealth of inspiration for global trend spotters, Japanese designers have struggled to make a dent abroad in recent years to follow in the hallowed footsteps of influential and successful designers such as Issey Miyake and Yohji Yamamoto.
And while local labels continue to earn respect for their quality, technical skill and creative design, many fail to translate that reputation into global sales.
It’s a problem industry insider Yokobori knows well. “If someone running a store in Singapore, for example, wants to place an order with a Japanese designer, it is impossible,” Yokobori said.
“The designers don’t speak English, they often can’t write an invoice or make decisions quickly… and many have no knowledge of overseas markets or why they matter,” he told AFP on the sidelines of fashion week.
A booming domestic market once meant Japanese labels had little reason to ponder global expansion. Read More