By Julie Scheurl for Fukuoka Now
Thanks to Fukuoka Now, I was lucky enough to score a ticket to attend the Fukuoka Asia Collection (FACo) Spring/Summer 2019 event, which you may be familiar with as it has become quite the institution here, now in its eleventh year running. As a former fashion journalist, I was of course intrigued and jumped at the chance to attend, eager to understand what drives trends in Japan, a country that so many overseas designers and creatives look to for inspiration.
The theme for this year’s show was Kirameki Korearata (キラメキコレアラタ), which I believe can be interpreted as “The New Glitz and Glam,” a very appropriate title, if you ask me. FACo adeptly blends Japanese pop-culture by merging established lifestyle companies with celebrity guest models and live performances, all coming together to present the new must-haves to the hungry crowd, mainly consisting of teenage girls and young women.
Upon entering the venue, guests receive a goody-bag and information on the event, the brands and the celebrities in attendance. Once inside the main hall of the spacious Fukuoka Kokusai Center, the tension was palpable as a massive screen set the scene, accompanied by strobe lights perfectly timed to the beat of the bass-heavy music and illuminating the thrust stage on which the models presented the latest fashions, not only pertaining to garments but also other vanity items such as D-Up’s false eyelashes or Coca-Cola’s ‘Amami’ green tea. In terms of clothing, each brand had a distinct identity, meaning that all tastes were catered to, be it a more feminine and classic look or a slightly darker, edgier aesthetic.
In between these presentations, short talks and interviews by the MCs, RKB announcer Io Takeda (武田伊央) and comedic duo Chocolate Planet (チョコレートプラネット), lightened the mood and provided smooth transitions between presentations, live performances, and intermissions. There was never a dull moment, everything was structured, and no one missed a beat, which was clear from the audience participation.
During the intermissions, the crowd made a beeline towards the food trucks stationed outside, providing both delicious and Instagram-able foods such as burgers, 30 cm long churros, Cubanos and Turkish ice cream. Guests who weren’t hungry or already finished eating could get free hair-dos and make-overs inside at one of the sponsors’ booths, while groups of giggling girls also waited in front of some of the booths to meet their favorite idols who serve as brand ambassadors and came to promote new products and meet some fans.
While I wasn’t familiar with most of the Japanese celebrities that the crowd went so wild for, it was hard not to get caught up in the excitement, as FACo provided an experience that most traditional fashion shows in the west do not: a democratic and relatable approach to fashion, allowing for an immersive and sensory experience that balances clothing, lifestyle, fun, and aspiration (through featuring celebrities); an event not just reserved for press and industry heavyweights but the actual consumer. Thank you for this breath of fresh air!