Singaporean streetwear retailer 77th Street brings Harajuku chic to local shores.
Contributed By Yong Yung Shin
Having burst onto the local fashion scene with its edgy and vibrant street apparel 23 years ago, 77th Street breaks new ground yet again by entering into a joint venture agreement with AWCG Pte Ltd, a company that represents Harajuku fashion brands. AWCG is formed by Apparel-web Inc., an e-business solutions company, Chori Co. Ltd, a fabric and garment trading company and Mizuho Corporate Bank Co Ltd.
The joint venture signing ceremony took place on Oct. 7 at Stylescape on the fourth level of Tangs Orchard, and was attended by the vice-minister of the Ministry of Economics, Trade and Industry of Japan, His Highness Tadahiro Matsushita and Singapore’s Minister of State for Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts, Mr. Chan Chun Sing.
“Harajuku and everything that it encompasses is symbolic of the unique, trendsetting Japanese style and finds no comparison anywhere else in the world. Together with AWCG, we will bring the edgiest of Japanese street fashion to the region,” explains 77th Street founder and director Elim Chew. “Through this joint venture, 77th Street aims to be a bridge between Japanese brand owners and other parties, such as franchisees, distributors and department stores.”
To mark the collaboration, a Harajuku Street Style multi-brand pop-up store at Stylescape carrying 15 labels was launched simultaneously. The labels include United Arrows Beauty & Youth, one of Japan’s most established fashion retailers which combine sophistication with a street-style essence and affordable price points, Wego, a label focusing on vintage-style apparel and Beams, a pioneer in Japan’s “street oriental fashion,” according to Masaki Ishibashi, a global business producer at Apparel-web Inc.
Asked about the changes the Harajuku fashion scene has observed over the years, Ishibashi replied, “One particular trend for ladies’ fashion is the transition from feminine to masculine, where girls prefer to express their internal strength rather than merely project a cute image. As a result, bold timepieces have become popular accessories, a trend that will likely be helmed by Wego and Ciaopanic. For men, it is about simplicity with a dash of nobility, reminiscent of the 60s’ American retro look. So the Harajuku style is not just about funkiness and pop.”
The launch was hosted by VJ Utt, featuring appearances by celebrity blogger Rei Shito and street photographer James Bent. The pop-up store will be open until Oct. 31, after which there will be a permanent Harajuku-styled flagship store opening in May 2012 at a yet-to-be confirmed venue. The store will carry up to 150 leading Japanese streetwear brands.
The Harajuku Street Style initiative is part of the Japanese Ministry of Economics, Trade and Industry’s ambitious one billion-yen Cool Japan project which aims to restore confidence in Japanese brands and revitalize its appeal, after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Singapore is the debut stop for the Cool Japan project, which will travel to seven other countries including France, Italy, USA, Brazil and China, promoting not just fashion but Japanese food, travel and anime products.