Fashion World Tokyo conceives new solutions, waiting for normality to comeback

Acknowledged as a true one-stop event for the international fashion community, Fashion World Tokyo has grown, year after year, into Japan’s largest and most prominent industry exhibition, able to bring together producers, buyers, professionals and visitors from all over the world. Held twice a year at the Tokyo Big Sight, the fair, organized by RX Japan Ltd. (Formerly Reed Exhibitions Japan Ltd.), has become a significant business opportunity for an increasing number of international exhibitors, actively fostering cross-boundary partnerships and networking activities.

The recent breakout of the pandemic pushed the organizers into a challenging period; despite all, thanks to the digital actions undertook by the organizers and to a close contact with the audience, Fashion World Tokyo is still one of the most renowned hubs in the East where fashion trends are set out.

The Fashion World Tokyo Fair is acknowledged by international operators as one of the main fashion hubs in the East. What is the new vision of the organizers according to the economic difficulties and travel restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic?
First of all, as the largest exhibition organizer in Japan, we have the conviction that we would like to contribute to the development of the industry by continuing to hold exhibitions adapting the challenging times. We have been resuming the exhibition since August 2020 as a hybrid style, both online and onsite (with thorough measures against Covid-19).

As for FASHION WORLD TOKYO, 84 overseas companies from 20 countries exhibited remotely in 2020 October and 2021 March. Praised by the international exhibitors, this service called “Remote Exhibiting Plan” let exhibitors meet quality buyers to promote their products. This service allows exhibitors to physically exhibit their products, have professional interpreters on-site, and have direct access to the screen to explain and discuss their products.
We have received feedback from companies that not only it is innovative, but it has also generated over 100 business leads.
In addition, during the pandemic, there was a growing demand for sustainable and environmentally friendly products in various fields. The fashion industry is no exception, and in order to boost the industry as a great business opportunity, we newly launched “SUSTAINABLE FASHION EXPO” in the 2021 March. It attracted many visitors and received a great response.

What are the strategies that you implemented to take care of buyers and visitors even during the pandemic?
We have introduced a “Private Sourcing Tour” for all international buyers who cannot visit Japan because of travel restrictions but eager to grab the opportunities of overseas purchases.

How “Private Sourcing Tour” is that we connect international visitors through video chat and walk around the venue to show onsite booths and connect exhibitors.
In the previous 2021 March, 30 countries participated and 1,105 business meetings were generated from this service. There were many business meeting scenes of overseas buyers and exhibitors with tablet/smartphone/PC in their hands at the venue.
Other initiatives included live streaming from the exhibition site to connect buyers and exhibitors in real time. About 500 buyers watched the event and 77 inquiries were sent to the exhibitors through the distribution.
In this way, we will continue to provide services to meet the needs of buyers who are unable to go directly to the market because of the pandemic, but want to see the products in person and discuss business.

Covid-19, in addition to causing a huge health emergency, is also having dramatic implications for the real economy. In your opinion, what will be the consequences of this crisis on the fashion sector and on social interactions in the context of trade fairs? Do you believe “physical” events could be replaced by digital ones? Indeed, the pandemic was a major blow to the fashion industry.
However, we think the covid-19 pandemic has made it rather clear that in-person business cannot be completely replaced by digital.
While what can be done online has become more efficient online, the pandemic highlights the importance and desire for “face-to-face business”.
We have been holding hybrid exhibitions since the 2020 August, and many visitors who come to the venue tell us “I can see and touch the product and ask directly in person, which I cannot understand through online.”
On the other hand, exhibitors tell us “Many visitors who participate at this time of the year come to compare and contrast with each other with clear needs. We also are able to explain our products while actually showing them, so we can proceed to concrete business negotiations.”

The Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the European Union and Japan entered into force on the 1st of February 2019. Since then, businesses and consumers across Europe and Japan are able to take advantage of the largest open trade zone in the world. What impact this deal had on the fashion industry and, in general, what do you perceive from the market?
The pandemic hit just as we were about to benefit from this agreement, and we haven’t felt the full impact yet. However, as the pandemic comes to end, the import tax will be lowered, and the flow of goods will undoubtedly become more active. Therefore, there are high expectations for imported goods in the Japanese market.

There is no doubt that the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) in Japan, the national government, local governments, and associations are becoming more proactive in exporting Japanese products.
According to the Japanese consumer market, the demand for imported goods is very high compared to the supply before the covid pandemic, and buyers have high expectations.
This is one of the reasons why we have launched the “INT’L FASHION BRAND EXPO” held inside FASHION WORLD TOKYO.
We believe that the impact will spread in earnest from now on.