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Fashion World Tokyo: Products that are identifiably African attract interest

Published: 7th Nov 2023
Author: Tony Dickson - S&V Editor

A series on successful South African footwear and leather goods exporters. Sponsored by the SA Footwear & Leather Export Council (SAFLEC).

A South African delegation returned to Japan’s Fashion World Tokyo trade fair from 10-12 October, for the first time post-covid. Described as ‘Japan’s largest international fashion trade show’, the twice-yearly FWT covers apparel, bags, shoes, accessories, fabrics and other materials, and fashion digital technology.
The October edition showcases autumn/winter ranges. The spring/summer edition is held in April.
Organised by SAFLEC and the Eastern Cape Development Corporation, there were 10 SA exhibitors, drawn from both the formal and ‘emerging’ sectors.
“Almost all of them secured small orders,” said SAFLEC director Nerisha Jairaj. “That’s positive, because Japanese buyers are very conservative.
“Ethnic African DNA, game skins and sheepskin slippers appeared to attract most attention.
“It’s up to the exhibitors to follow up timeously, with the right quality, to build trust and secure ongoing orders. Japanese buyers expect professionalism.
”We help where we can in terms of advice on logistics and procedures, but the exhibitors are expected to do most of the work.”

Feedback from participants

Dévan Swanepoel, Weef

Cape Town, W. Cape, SA – The fair was fruitful. The last time we were there was in 2019 where we were one of the favorites!
This year we managed to potentially assign an agent who took most of our stock and is actively trying to get Weef into some high-end fashion retailers and a massive online Japanese E-commerce website.
A lot of the Japanese buyers were very impressed by our sustainable and plant-based product ranges including our Piñatex and Desserto Weef range – there were a lot of sustainable/plant-based brands/products at the trade show, more than in 2019 – seems like it's a hot topic at the moment...


Daniel Kurgan, Kurgan Kenani Leather

Cape Town, W. Cape, SA – First time visit, and I need to tweak my offering to suit the market in Japan. Definitely potential but it will take time and patience.


Noxolo Sitshinga, Ledikana Creations

Johannesburg, Gauteng, SA – We showed clothing, bags, soft toys and African jewellery. There was a lot of interest on the soft toys and clothing, and we had a few sales on the stand.
There is a lady interested in our products, and we are still in talks to appoint her as an agent.


Farren Woodman, Thurling Investments/Thurling Tanning

Cape Town, W. Cape, SA – The Tokyo Japan fair was quieter than expected; but it provided a valuable opportunity to engage with several of our existing clients. We also received a few new inquiries, which we hope could lead to potential future orders.


Wendy N. Hammond, Wendy H. Bridal

East London, E. Cape, SA – We do ‘modern traditional’ outfits, handbags and traditional hand crafted beads, mixing 100% cotton with raw silk fabric.
I have clients in Tokyo interested in my products. We are waiting for them to put down the commitment amount before we can produce for them. We sold some bags in Tokyo made out of our South African fabric.

The other exhibitors were FK Empire, Rowdy Bags, Wild Elements and Ikhayaelite.




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