Japanese Business and Online Fashion News: Rakuten, Stylife and American Apparel

Japanese Business, Tech and Online Fashion News: Rakuten, Stylife and American Apparel

Tomoko Hara and Sarah Deschamps

Modern Tokyo Times


Rakuten Inc. is intent on revitalizing Stylife Corp. by increasing its current 32.5% stake in this company, in order to make it a subsidiary which is owned by Rakuten. It was reported several days ago that the next two main shareholders of Stylife would accept the offer by Rakuten. This applies to Burnedest Japan Ltd. and Parco Co. therefore it appears that things are running smoothly with regards to the takeover.

The main purpose for Rakuten is to strengthen its hand in the online fashion market and to utilize the respective strengths of Stylife and Rakuten Ichiba. After all, the virtual shopping mall of Rakuten Ichiba and Stylife overlap in many areas. Also, it is hoped that the cooperation between the two companies will strengthen both entities because this sector is extremely competitive.


Indeed, in 2012 it is reported that sales at Stylife dropped by a significant 17% and clearly all major investors in this company want to find a solution. Of course, for Rakuten it is also about consolidation within the online fashion sector and to rejuvenate both entities in order to find a right balance. Not only this, the respective areas which overlap should also help in the area of being more cost effective and expansive at the same time. Therefore, Rakuten believes that a golden opportunity exists whereby the strengths of both entities can reshape the online fashion market.

The fashion sector is enormous in Japan and major cities like Tokyo and Osaka are blessed with the crème de la crème of Japanese and international boutiques which would grace any major city in the world. At the same time, Japanese people are blessed with being able to utilize cutting edge technology in order to buy goods easily and quickly. This means that online fashion is a very powerful market and in recent years the competition is heating-up. For example, major fashion companies are also increasing their focus on online sales, social media, utilizing cutting edge technology related to smartphones and other areas.


International fashion companies which have entered the Japanese market fully understand the uniqueness of competition within the fashion sector in this nation. American Apparel is a fashion company which is hitting all the right vibes in Japan because in many fashion surveys by Modern Tokyo Times related to female fashion, this company was selected by many Tokyo females because of its adorable fashion. Yet, the complexity of the fashion market in Japan meant that American Apparel needed to reach out to new customers and to please their loyal clients even further.

Therefore, despite American Apparel being based in Los Angeles this company decided on launching its first mobile store in Japan. This decision makes complete sense because the utilization of technology in areas related to fashion – and within other markets – is well in advance in Japan compared with other nations which still lag behind. Mobile technology therefore enables people to enhance their quality of life because the convenience angle, bringing the latest fashion vibes directly to the respective individual and other perks appeal greatly.


Don Charney, CEO of American Apparel, stated in 2012 about the mobile market in Japan that “Mobile marketing is more important in Japan than in any other region. It was clear that this would be a great new way to serve our Japanese customers in a way that they’ve come to expect from other retailers.”

Therefore, American Apparel is in tune with the reality of the land of the rising sun because many retailers have entered the same line of thinking. American Apparel also focused on the Tokyo and Osaka angle when entering the fashion market of Japan therefore the approach was well thought out. Likewise, the mobile launch by American Apparel can reach fashion lovers throughout the country and reach new clients. At the same time this company can enrich their respective clients which utilize this method in order to buy fashion goods and to check the latest vibes.


Online retail, mobile launches and other areas of the modern world are increasingly impacting on individuals in Japan. Of course, this angle is growing throughout the world but the importance of this angle seems much higher in Japan. Therefore, mobile technology and other areas focus on various dynamic angles in order to cater for Japanese sensibilities.

It remains to be seen if Rakuten can revamp Stylife and restore profits to this company in the short term. After all, this market is very competitive and traditional boutiques are also focused on modernizing many areas in order to reach their traditional client base and to entice new clients. However, if the respective strengths of Rakuten Ichiba and Stylife create a new synergy and fashion buzz – then it is more than possible that Stylife can rebound especially given the strengths of Rakuten in the field of finance, creativity and other powerful areas.

Lee Jay Walker gave support to both main writers






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