Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Japan mobile fashion event showcases girl power

Ladies, who needs a wallet to go shopping when you've got a mobile phone? A Japanese company has put a girly twist to an everyday convenience - shopping using a cellphone - to attract young fashionistas with cash to spend on high-street garb rather than Chanel and Valentino.

Over the next two years, Japan's retail sales from mobile phone sites are expected to surge 60% - three times faster than the country's mail order industry - to about 300 billion yen (US$2.59 billion), according to researcher Fuji-Keizai.

Privately owned Xavel Inc. has been making inroads into that industry since it was set up in 1999, and over the weekend, it organised a grand shopping event which attracted nearly 20,000 women in their late teens and early 20s.

In a giant stadium outside Tokyo, the women crowded around a cross-shaped catwalk for the "Tokyo Girls Collection", a six-hour extravaganza featuring T-shirts and jewellery from labels such as Rich and Cecil McBee, little known outside Japan but popular among local students.

And to lure young fans, the event used models from teen magazines instead of catwalk professionals.

"She's so cute!" screamed a group of high school girls as models Yuri Ebihara and Moe Oshikiri stepped onto the stage.

For many, the show was about getting a glimpse of the more than 70 idols they see in fashion bibles "CanCam" and "Vivi". But other girls were there to spend.

"I think it's great we can immediately buy the clothes from cell phones," said Sachie Ishikawa, a 23 year-old student who attended the event for the second time.

"It's groundbreaking."