Fukuoka Asia Collection (FACo) Spring/Summer 2013 Report
March 24, 2013 at Fukuoka Kokusai Center
Report by Ellery Herbert (Australia, Fukuoka Now), and Eve Shillingford (UK, Fashion Graduate)
In an excited haze of lights, blasting pop music, screaming fans, booths (and, of course, fabulous local fashion) the Fukuoka Asia Collection (FACo) Spring/Summer 2013 runway presentation took the town by storm on Sunday, March 24. Now in its fifth year, the Fukuoka fashion industry event attracted no less than 7,446 fashion-loving guests to the Hakata-ku Kokusai Convention Center. Ticket prices ranged from ¥3,500~¥7,000, and the event was broken into three runway sessions across the afternoon and into the evening.
The massive entertainment center was transformed from its regular appearance (readers may recognize the Kokusai Center as the venue used annually for the Kyushu Basho sumo tournament) into a buzzing fashion hub. With a sizeable runway dividing the hall in two, the place was decked out with smoke machines, lights and huge screens. These screens, combined with three levels of seating, ensured that all in attendance could enjoy an unobscured view of the catwalk during the main show.
Arriving at the venue, where girls were carefully stepping down off the bus in their six-inch heels, it was hard to know what to expect! Guests arriving at FACo with expectations of an intimate, elite fashion show similar to those of Paris, New York and London may have been taken aback by the crowded, high energy atmosphere inside the venue. But it is this departure from haut monde “serious” fashion events, towards a more welcoming atmosphere that characterizes FACo and allows for its success here in Fukuoka. The event is markedly non-elitist, and accessible for all to attend. And attend they did! Before the show began, hordes of excited Japanese fashion fans of all ages crowded around the many booths for free samples (making it almost impossible to move on the ground floor) and quickly reserved seats in anticipation of seeing their favorite models on the catwalk. There were artist signing sessions in the Kokusai Center’s foyer, and some models appeared for photo opportunities at select booths.
The sponsored booths on the ground floor totalled thirteen, including TIGER brand thermoses, Fukuoka Boat Race, HRK, Stone Market, Five Star Wedding, D.U.P Eyelashes, Macadamia Natural Oil, Coca Cola West, Nails Unique, Menicon, Glico, Hankyu and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment System. Nine apparel brands from the runway were also included in the Model Street booth- an official FACo-commissioned shopping site at the event and limited online store. Model Street brands included Anne Coquine, Joyrich, DaTuRa, Didyca, MariettA, and haussement innocent.
Fukuoka Now attended FACo’s second session at 15:30, which kicked off with the energetic singer and drummer Kavka Shishido aka Drum’n’Girl. Her high-octane performance, combined with the hall’s size, the audience’s energy and sound and lighting set the atmosphere of a concert rather than a fashion show.
Kavka Shishido (Source)
The two-hour runway showcased casual spring clothing for SS13, including 17 local Fukuoka apparel brands, six Japan-wide brands, two Korean brands and two Indonesian brands. Although Japan has a vast range of fashion options for men, FACo’s selection of clothing was clearly aimed towards the female demographic. The runway provided a preview of new spring styles from popular labels including: haussement innocent, Rosy Cheeks, plaisir, trois, Dear Princess, SMIR NASLI, All My Loving and Tayutau – to name a few! Each brand had a different vibe. One minute – models would strut to dramatic beats wearing textured, eccentric underwear, the next – floaty, pastel garments were paraded to sweet pop music. Themes included everything from Moulin Rouge cabaret to a grungy variation of Cowboys and Indians. The anticipation of each section certainly had the audience on the edge of their seats – not knowing what to expect was part of the fun.
Halfway through the show, guests were treated to a second live stage from five-piece dance troupe Tempura Kidz, who delivered two sensory-overloading numbers.
The presentation of fashion collections was broken up not only by live performances, but also by sponsored runway collections from HRK, Stone Market, GLICO, Boat Race, Five Star Wedding and Tiger. During these presentations, celebrity models enthralled the entire audience with surprise guest appearances – waving, smiling and throwing out free gifts from sponsors to their adoring fans as they walked the catwalk. When a celebrity model was on stage, you got the impression that the clothes didn’t matter to the crowd who were jumping, screaming and waving their hands, balloons or uchiwa (handmade fans) madly!
In total, 70 models walked the catwalk, including 37 guest models, 25 Fukuoka selected models, and eight international “Kawaii Ambassadors” selected by AsianBeat from China, Thailand, Taiwan and Vietnam. Special guests included Rui Kurihara, Suzanne, Moe Oshikiri, Yuri Ebihara, Yu Yamada and Ai Haruna. Miss Teen Japan 2012 winner Naomi Trauden, along with her runner up and 2nd runner up appeared too, modelling some younger fashions and chatting with the presenters in one of many mini-interviews.
From a foreign perspective, FACo is an overwhelming but informative experience. At many times, you feel like the only person in the room “not in on the joke” so to speak – such as when the crowd erupts in ecstatic cheers upon the appearance of a celebrity model (whom you honestly couldn’t pick out of a line-up), or during the stranger live performances of well-known Japanese pop idols who you’ve never heard of. However, it’s clear to see that event does a great job in promoting and creating a buzz around Fukuoka’s fashion industry. More than that, the thousands of fashionable young Japanese women in attendance genuinely enjoyed the event.
The show ended with a final model walk and a big bang of confetti which gave the audience one final excitement, before they gathered up their FACo goodie bags (including some rather unexpected items – contact lense wash!?) and took to Tenjin for some post-show shopping.