China Fashion News: Tokyo to China for Forever 21 and Topshop
China Fashion News: Tokyo to China for Forever 21 and Topshop
Kanako Itamae and Michel Lebon
Modern Tokyo Times
In several surveys by Modern Tokyo Times both Topshop and Forever 21 figured prominently when it came to young Japanese ladies selecting their favorite fashion brands. These two companies have completely different backgrounds and were created in different countries. However, Topshop and Forever 21 are following similar paths when it comes to focusing on the Tokyo market and then branching out to China.
Of course, it makes sense to become established in Tokyo and other major cities in Japan because fashion is in high demand. Also, the visible power of Tokyo and the amazing fashion scene throughout this city is truly remarkable. The purchasing power angle is also another major aspect because Tokyo and other cities like Osaka have an enormous power base.
Not only this, despite the Japanese economy being in the doldrums for over two decades it is clear that the fashion sector isn’t being hit when it comes to powerful boutiques. Therefore, providing respective companies can maintain a strong connection with the host market then Tokyo is tried and tested once established. Also, the visibility of Tokyo internationally means that this powerful city reaches the international headlines within Asia and throughout the world when it comes to fashion.
Forever 21 opened its first flagship store in Tokyo in 2010 and clearly since this period the visibility and power of this company continues to flourish. This fashion brand company is based in Los Angeles and clearly the power of American fashion within Japan is firmly established. Likewise, Los Angeles sells itself and clearly the vibes and energy of this company is extremely attractive for fashion lovers in Japan which fit into their catchment area.
In 2010 Forever 21 issued a statement which affirmed that “Japan is the No. 1 market in Asia.” This comment was made by Lawrence Meyer who is the Executive Vice President of Forever 21. Lawrence Meyer is clearly correct because the power of Japan in this sector is enormous and Japanese soft power is also growing internationally.
Forever 21 is clearly focused on the Asia market and this can be seen by the vitality of the Executive Vice President. Larry Meyer stated that “At Forever 21, we take a new direction every week. It’s our job to know what’s happening, what’s new and bring that to our customers as soon as possible. That is what we strive to do.”
The first flagship store of Forever 21 in Asia is located in the exquisite fashion district of Ginza which is based in and around a very powerful commercial centre. Not surprisingly Ginza and Yurakucho continue to attract powerful Japanese and international fashion companies. Therefore, the area is littered with the crème de la crème of fashion boutiques along with powerful brands that can connect with the streets and vibes of Tokyo fashion. Indeed, companies like Forever 21, Uniqlo, H&M, and others, are altering the dynamics of Ginza fashion which is now more open to a more diverse market.
Topshop also opened its first Japanese flagship store in 2010 but unlike Forever 21, Topshop opened its flagship store in Shinjuku. Shinjuku is another major fashion district in Tokyo and while the area may lack the refinement of Ginza and Yurakucho, this doesn’t take anything away from the attractiveness of fashion lovers. Indeed, the market of Shinjuku is extremely diverse and this applies to exquisite and powerful brand names to a more Tokyo street vibe. Therefore, the choice available in Shinjuku is truly enormous and caters strongly for all age groups. In saying this, the youthful nature of this district is also extremely powerful because of the many different fashion angles to this buzzing part of Tokyo.
The evolution of Topshop which is a famous brand name in the United Kingdom continues to grow. Topshop also is clearly focused on expanding throughout Japan and this innovative company is clearly connecting with the street vibes of Tokyo. In many surveys by Modern Tokyo Times this company was selected by young ladies in Tokyo in various fashion districts that were selected.
Topshop and Forever 21 are now focusing their attention on expanding in China and other areas of Asia. The stepping stone in Tokyo and then spreading their respective bases throughout Japan was clearly a productive and calculated move. Therefore, both companies are eyeing the Chinese market while remaining firmly committed to the powerhouse of Tokyo fashion and throughout Japan.
On the Buy China website it is stated that “Topshop opened its first China store in Shenzhen during May holiday (2012). The brand is owned by Arcadia group, the UK’s largest clothing retailer. There are 309 Topshop stores in the UK and more than 140 in over 20 countries worldwide.”
Buy China also comments that “Forever 21 announced the opening of its flagship store in Beijing’s Sun Hung Kai apm mall in November 2011. We also hear rumors about another flagship on Shanghai’s Nanjing East Road. The brand is American, but was originally based on trendy designs from Korea, and is seen as an Asian brand, mostly due to its orientation towards Japanese and Korean young ladies. Forever 21 originally opened a pilot store in Changshu, 70km form Shanghai, but has since realized the location is too remote to serve as a launch pad for the brand in China. The new flagships in Beijing and Shanghai represent a shift to a new expansion strategy. The company has more than 500 stores worldwide, and is planning to open 90 new stores each year.”
The background of both Topshop and Forever 21 is very different but each company followed a familiar path – whereby Tokyo and Japan was the firm foundation stone to expanding throughout Asia. Also, the capital generated by these ventures will further enhance their respective powerbases within North America and Europe and throughout the world. It is abundantly clear that Tokyo is a lucrative international fashion market which is a firm base to expand throughout Japan and internationally providing companies understand the complexities of the Japanese market.
It appears that Topshop and Forever 21 firmly understand the dynamics of Tokyo and Japan and this knowledge is now being utilized to expand in China. Providing over expansion doesn’t materialize then the future of both companies throughout Asia looks bright. Therefore, consolidation must also be part of the future direction of both fashion brands along with adapting to the demands of international fashion by maintaining their rich respective vitality.
Lee Jay Walker provided data info and analyst background to fellow writers at Modern Tokyo Times