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Japanese fashion takes global stage with home-grown brand Baroque

Prestigious company is constantly introducing original pieces for the fashion-savvy

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 April, 2016, 5:01pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 April, 2016, 10:20am

Country Business Reports interviews and articles by Discovery Reports

A common setting for many blockbuster movies, such as Lost in Translation and The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Shibuya Crossing is a prominent landmark in Tokyo that serves as a gateway to one of Japan’s most exciting shopping and lifestyle districts. A popular destination for many, Shibuya offers a peek into how the diversity of Japanese culture and fashion captivates local and international audiences. Home-grown brand Baroque Japan has made it its mission to capture Shibuya’s vibrant spirit in its various lines of apparel and shoes that showcase Japanese sensibilities.

Baroque is a company renowned for its dynamism, constantly introducing original pieces for the fashion-savvy. Drawing inspiration from pop culture and fashion trends, Baroque develops products that reflect market demands.

“We work at the grassroots level, involving our sales staff in the planning process because we recognise that they are the most attuned to what customers want. They are in the front lines in understanding youth subcultures, keeping us in the loop on what music and films are popular,” says Hiroyuki Murai, chairman and CEO.

Constantly innovating, Baroque understands the value of welcoming different perspectives. In building its talent pool, Baroque does not discriminate against gender, nationality or educational background. For the company, what is important is the passion and drive for excellence.

Baroque provides a nurturing work environment to encourage its employees to display their talents. Two of Baroque’s brands, trendy high-casual MOUSSY and classy-sexy SLY, stemmed from the creative minds of its sales staff. Other brands under Baroque were also conceptualised in-house. Serving as brand ambassadors, the designers, for example Yukina Kinoshita, wear their own clothes to serve as style icons for the young generation.

Envisioning a global platform for its products, Baroque targeted high-growth economies such as Hong Kong and mainland China. As an entry point to the overwhelming business landscape of the mainland, the company established a local presence in Hong Kong in 2007 through Baroque HK to manage the stores there.

Baroque’s MOUSSY brand received tremendous support in Beijing. The 150-square-metre store recorded total monthly sales of approximately HK$3.5 million.

To further gain traction on the mainland, Baroque forged a joint venture with Belle International. One of China’s leading shoe and apparel retailers, Belle has many brands under its umbrella, including its own brands BELLE, STACCATO and SKAP, and licensed brands Bata, Clarks and Hush Puppies.

“Just as Belle has expanded our portfolio with their own brands of shoes, Baroque has also enriched their offerings with MOUSSY and SLY,” Murai says. “We value Belle’s extensive knowledge about the local retail market, and together with them, we hope to establish 1,000 stores in five years.”

Aside from MOUSSY and SLY, Baroque aims to launch the mass-market brand AZUL by moussy and minimalist high-end brand ENFÖLD on the mainland. The company is also bullish about the launch of China limited-edition products designed by its China creative team.

Baroque brands are sold on the mainland through direct selling and online retail channels such as Taobao. It has more than 150 stores in Hong Kong and on the mainland, and more than 340 stores in Japan, with annual sales of more than HK$4.6 billion.

Building on its China success, Baroque also aims to launch its brands in the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. Baroque has also set its sights on capturing the United States fashion market.

“We take up the challenge of gaining global recognition for Baroque as a fashion brand from Shibuya at the leading edge of the Japanese fashion scene,” Murai says.

Baroque Japan