In the past three years, the Japanese clothing business has doubled in size and has become a major source of revenue for a number of Japanese businesses, including the popular cosmetics brand AKIRA.
But now, after the introduction of an online bidding system, sales have exploded, and Akira has become one of the most valuable brands in Japan.
And its rise in the Japanese market is also a sign of how quickly the industry is maturing in the Asian nation.
The Japanese brand Akira, owned by Japanese company Nippon Ichi, has become so popular in Japan that it now sells almost a third of its products online in the country.
It has even been able to secure its first online deal with Amazon, and the Japanese retailer has already bought over 30,000 pairs of Akira jeans.
But it has also taken on some challenges, such as the high cost of manufacturing and a limited range of products, said Dr Sarah Tackett, chief executive of online retailer ecommerce site Adorama.
She said that when she went to Japan last year, the brand sold only about 40,000 items online, while now it sells more than 60,000.
“The demand has grown and we’ve been able at the same time to make some progress in our ability to make that growth sustainable,” she said.
“That’s an encouraging sign for the Japanese fashion industry, but also a challenge for us.”
Akira’s success in Japan has made it one of Japan’s most profitable companies, which means it has been able be able to expand in China and South Korea, and to grow its global sales.
“The globalisation of our business has helped us grow in those markets and we’re seeing the same in Japan, where we’ve become the largest overseas apparel retailer,” said Dr Tacketts.
While she said there are still challenges, the Akira brand is seeing great growth, with its global average sales per customer in 2020 rising to $2.40.
She said it is also looking to scale up in the coming years, as it has launched new brands.
“Akira has an amazing brand that has made Japanese fashion so successful and it is great to see our global expansion continues,” she added.
The growth in Akira’s sales has not gone unnoticed in the Australian fashion industry.
Ana Fritsch, a fashion and footwear consultant based in Melbourne, said it was a good sign that Akira was a success story in Japan and not just because of its success in the domestic market.
“Japan is the second-largest market for women’s fashion after China, and with the global trend towards more women dressing more like men, I think this has helped Akira to grow,” she told the ABC.
“I think we’ve seen this in the US and Europe, and it’s a really good sign for fashion brands in Australia that Japan is going to continue to be a big market.”
But not everyone is happy with the rise of Akiras popularity in Japan – and many brands are now wary of taking the plunge.
“It’s a very competitive industry.
There are lots of competitors, and there are some companies that have been very successful,” said Sarah Tachett, managing director of ecommerce website Adorama, which has been helping retailers like Akira and others grow in Japan over the past two years.”
So it’s really hard to predict how things are going to play out, but if you’re going to be selling online, I would suggest that you’re looking for a very consistent business model that doesn’t require a lot of marketing,” she advised.”
You can build a business, and then take a cut, but I think that’s really going to make it very difficult to do.”
Akiko Yoshida, a brand manager for online retailer Amazon Australia, said the global popularity of the brand in Japan was a positive sign for Australian brands, but said it would also help if there were a lot more women in the industry.
“If it’s not that Japanese that’s selling it, it’s that Japanese-Australian who is buying the clothing, because that’s who is really driving the growth,” she explained.
“In Japan, people tend to shop at the supermarket.
That’s what they’re shopping for.
They’re buying clothes, they’re not looking for other things to do with their time.”
While women are selling more clothes online, they are not buying them in bulk.
Instead, they shop online, and at the checkout, with the intention of picking up a larger size.
This may seem counterintuitive to some shoppers, who may be looking to shop online to find a new size.
But Ms Yoshida said this was where retailers could make a difference.
“What we’re doing is we’re trying to connect our retail channels with our online channels, because the way that we are working with our retailers is, we’ve got an online platform where they