All photos by Tom Wallace ScoLar reversible plaid skirt was a big hit at Pool fashion trade show

When we first checked out the Japanese label ScoLar from Japan and the director Yukie Teramachi, we were impressed with the brands leading-edge styles for young women. A cross between young contemporary, street, and Japanese “fairy kei” aesthetics, it was interesting how they were not only able to stay on top of street trends via T-shirts, jackets, skirts, hoodies, and dresses, but also graphics, colors, and most importantly, price points.

This year at Pool Fashion Trade Show, ScoLar again showed a collection that struck us as fashion-forward particularly with their fresh designs that were reversible. Reversible skirts that changed seamlessly from one color pattern and design to another, T-shirts that could be worn inside out, and cover-dress pieces that easily combine with layered looks, tights, and over other dresses towards creating new fashion statements fast and inexpensively (because you only had to buy 1 dress instead of 2).

ScoLar’s Reversible line: same skirt, 2 distinct styles, 1 price–reversible is the wave of the

The challenge for brands and retailers in our chaotic economy is how do you stay extremely fashionable, on a fast-fashion cycle, yet meet the demands of the ever-faster tastes of youth culture today? Of course, ScoLar, a Japanese brand that’s used to the fast-paced designs of Tokyo, figured it out.

“My brand has a short-term turnover here,” explained Yukie, when we pressed her on how do they keep up with the grueling pace. Using a design team in Japan of 4-5 people, and a sales force that works directly with the designers, they’re small and nimble enough to turn corners fast as the market demands it (i.e., dropping price points 20-30 dollars as demanded by the consumer’s spending habits changing in just 3 months), or producing new street designs based on a bottom-up approach -what’s evolving from fashion-forward consumers.

Incredibly, her design team creates around 150-200 styles which they then narrow down to 80 styles available every month which they present with their sales teams. Their sales teams are also very in touch with the consumers and retailers -an on-the-ground-approach. From this meeting they make samples to complete their final monthly collection, which they show to buyers and start producing within a week -meaning that a store can get what they order in a month. If the sales fly faster off the shelves, they can produce more, if not they can produce less. They can also change up the price points faster because the product is made faster.

ScoLar’s sales team book orders like this in Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China every first and second week of the month, with orders shipping by the end of the month for a total of 12 collections per year. Only fast-fashion retailers such as H&M and Forever 21 in the States are able to do such a thing, which makes ScoLar quite fascinating because they aren’t huge and are able to keep that boutique-y underground feel. Their pace means they can adjust color, trend details, and price points so that they always provide the best pieces for their buyers. Which creates a winning cycle. The other factor is that now they have factories that pretty much only work for ScoLar (located in China and some in Japan), so they can control their production (think a smaller American Apparel), which they can then schedule for shipping on their own schedule based on demand of different pieces.

Ironically, the first few times ScoLar presented at American trade shows, it was a tough concept to crossover because we’re so used to ordering out up to 6 months in advance. Our cycle is such that a trade show showcases the next season, not what can hit markets in a 1 month or 2 months. The USA is also much larger than Japan, requiring reps in different locations and a longer time period for sales in general, and then of course marketing, p.r., manufacturing, and distribution.

But things are changing, obviously. Changing speeds based on technology and the internet mean that trends are changing faster -not just in terms of designs and styles, but consumer spending patterns and ideas about spending. ScoLar is one brand that’s figured out not only a way to keep up, but to stay one step ahead of things, making them a periscope of young contemporary street fashion that will likely work because of it’s timeliness and close association to the street styles being created by the very consumers that buy the brand.

Reversible T-shirt from ScoLar

The flipside

ScoLar’s young, street contemporary dresses and cover-ups over tights

ScoLar’s Kumiko Ashizawa in a dress/cover-all that changes her look instantly. Worn over other layers, tights, is fast-fashion style statement

Pink gossamer T-shirt with contemporary graphics from ScoLar

Nu rave dress with ’80’s style graphics, bright punk pink, and gold foil from ScoLar

The strawberry T-shirt with cute cats is part kawaii and funny

ScoLar designs that look like skulls or Mexican wrestler face masks with stars add to a unique fairy kei theme mixed with punk and Goth

ScoLar gals at Pool, Yukie Teramachi and Kumiko Ashizawa

The complete ScoLar ensemble