Japan Fashion Week Organization
Rakuten Fashion Week TOKYO, which is held twice a year in spring and autumn, is the largest fashion event in Japan. Although the event was not held in March of this year because of COVID-19, Fashion Week was held in October for six days with all possible precautions taken against COVID-19, and the event ended without any problems. We interviewed Mr. Hiroshi Komoda, senior director of the Japan Fashion Week Organization, to find the key to the successful event planning.
The prevention of infection is not easy. However, we all wanted to hold Rakuten Fashion Week TOKYO because the event provides the perfect stage to introduce brands to the world. Despite the fact that COVID-19 is still prevalent, 39 brands, including 19 newcomers, participated in the event. Prior to the event, we provided each brand with detailed descriptions for countermeasures against COVID-19, in a manual created by the secretariat of Rakuten Fashion Week TOKYO. In addition, we established detailed safety regulations that included a reduction in the number of people allowed into the venue and compliance with social distancing, and we asked each brand to appoint a coronavirus leader, in other words, a person in charge of the safety precautions. However, the venue covers a large area and people move throughout the venue. Moreover, the backstage areas of a fashion show are always hectic like a battlefield. We wondered whether or not we could control every corner of the venue or promptly judge whether the place was too crowded or not. Every possible measure was implemented to alleviate all fears and worries associated with COVID-19 and protect people.
As we struggled with developing the operational plan, we came across a solution using a CO2 sensor. At first, we were puzzled as to why CO2 was used, but we found it very interesting after understanding the mechanism. Installing CO2 sensors in different places allowed us to quantify and understand the level of crowdedness and the ventilation status of hidden areas, remote rooms, and the dark venue, except the runway, in real time. A particularly effective function of the solution was quantification. Our ability to show the level of crowdedness, not subjectively, but objectively with numbers, served to facilitate communication with brand owners. When we showed the numbers to the brand owners, they readily agreed to cooperate in eliminating crowds.
A fashion show may seem similar to a live music or sports event, but it has unique requirements. After sponsoring a fashion show, we discovered many new findings. At the request of the government, we created COVID-19 precautions and guidelines for fashion events. We look forward to sponsoring the next event by leveraging what we have learned from this event.
For this fashion event, we created a digital environment while establishing a safe physical environment. In the midst of a situation where overseas journalists could not participate and where we were forced to restrict the number of visitors, we attempted diverse modes of expression by combining a variety of video, animation, and installation to digitally broadcast the brands’ messages and views of the world. Our attempt, including the development of a safe environment and modes of expression, can serve as a model for future fashion events. Sponsoring a fashion show while addressing the doubts and worries associated with COVID-19 provided an opportunity to overcome a new challenge. Because we ended the show safely and successfully, we are relieved and, at the same time, believe that these events can evolve further.