WWD Series: Ryuto Takagi and Shota Kamiya

October 5, 2021

What is your customer asking for right now? How do people shop these days? What is important to them in your opinion? 

Ryuto: Especially young shoppers tend to think differently and buy differently. They value back story of item, history, production process and brand story more. In terms of how they shop, most of our customer still keen to see items in the store and enjoying conversation with our staff but on the other hand, emerging customers group prefer to research on internet and come to store knowing what to buy. Brands with digital vocabulary and luxury houses are showing presence amongst customers.

Shota: We no longer see “good news” in the industry after COVID and customer interests varied. Even in a long term we can’t foresee positive news. This changes attitude and interest of customer: they value brand’s long term activities and goal that is now about sustainability. Brands and shops with clear message, with a story to tell gain attention and regardless of the scale of the business – be it individual or mega store or domestic brand – this will continue. Now customers believe in the worth of individual. In the absence of big trend era, they are looking inward and asking what makes them feel good or what they want to be. Products are no longer the centre of their life. They are looking for something that allows them who they are and who they want to be. Shopping experience needs to speak to their 5 senses. Shopping is no longer just shipping but experiencing multiple things.

What are the challenges of Spring 2022 in terms of buying?

Ryuto: Brands with power, voice and presence can reach to customers even in the pandemic situation. On the other hand, smaller brands with less presence in the market found it hard to reach to customers even if they have a story or two to tell. With restrictions, we couldn’t welcome customers means those brands lost opportunities to be introduced and that is a challenge we are facing.

Shota: From product-and-selection-oriented store, we are aiming to be idea-oriented store. For example, we activate long term promotions on sustainability until it becomes a common language in Japan. But one should never forget that it should always comes with excitement when customers shop. In order to provide excitement in the store, we must first educate our staffs because the idea around sustainability requires educated expert to tell stories. Customers will “love” the garments when they understand the story behind them. So we tell stories of production and values woven in the garments, along with how to keep them longer by sharing care instructions, maintenance and repair methods.

What have you missed about physical shows? What’s the best thing about digital presentations & appointments?

Ryuto and Shota: Of course we miss physical shows. What’s great about being on site and see the show is the excitement in the air and this is the most important thing when it comes to buying. In the air, we sense “values” that our customer wants to see and experience. And we want to deliver the values directly to the store off the show. Because excitement is everything, and it comes from a sympathy to brand’s universe and storytelling and not entirely relied on product anymore. On the other hand, digital presentation forced brands to prepare necessary asset from lookbook to product shot, product information to collection story, which is helpful for us in a way because we have more information about the brand and collection more accurately which ultimately will be the information our customers will be told. Indeed digital presentation and buying give us other advantages (cutting travel hours, time-zone-free buying etc.) but nothing can beat the physical show when it comes to delivering excitement of fashion.  

What collection or brand are you most excited about? 

Ryuto: Chloe and Givenchy to throw first catwalks from the new creative directors and I’m curious to see what they’re up to in the catwalk format. AZ factory collection dedicates to Albert Elbaz will definitely be a historical moment. 

Shota: I always look forward to see new and emerging brands, be it catwalk or creative presentation. Catwalks from luxury houses are exciting but I’d love to see additional proposal around sustainability idea. Also like to see installations and in-store pop ups dotting around the city during the week! 

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