Greek fashion is traveling well beyond local borders these days, with one designer taking to the catwalk in Japan and more local talent preparing for international fashion trade exhibitions in Paris. Just back from a visit to Tokyo is veteran Loukia. The designer presented her winter haute-couture collection to a select audience at the city’s Shoto Gallery on January 18. The show – a first for a Greek designer – was attended by an eager audience, including fellow designer Junko Koshino, representatives of local luxury department stores such as Isetan and Takashimaya, apparel importers as well as an array of members of Japan’s fashion press. While in town, the Greek designer also took part in an international fashion fair for ready-to-wear. Loukia’s presence in Japan counted on the support of the Greek Embassy in Tokyo and the Greek Ministry of Tourism. Is something changing in the world of Greek fashion? «It’s absolutely vital that Greek designers make the kind of clothes than can travel around the world,» says Antonis Kioukas, producer of the two-year-old Greek fashion week. «If the fashion week doesn’t become commercial, its going to die a slow death.» To avoid this, Kioukas is currently developing a viable production line and showroom representing local talent. To do so, he scouted Greece and neighboring countries to locate production units. Following extensive research, he has come up with an apparel manufacturer based in northern Greece (with two units in Bulgaria). According to Kioukas, the production guarantees substantial economies of scale, such as designers benefiting from a 50 percent reduction for the realization of patterns, thanks to a special arrangement with ELKEDE (Technology and Design Center). The ambitious project currently represents 11 designers, members of the Hellenic Fashion Designers Association (HFD), but, says Kioukas, any member of the organization is welcome to join in, provided that their garments can be manufactured on a mass as opposed to the smaller, atelier scale. The aim here is the development of an efficiently running wholesale network and for the Athens showroom – which is scheduled to open its doors in February – to gradually attract local and international buyers and press. These are more than encouraging signs for HFD, a union founded in 2004. Since its establishment, the association has hosted four fashion weeks, namely the Diners Athens Collections InStyle, while at the same time has concentrated its efforts on building bridges with the Greek public and private sectors – as well as the world. The fifth edition of the Diners Athens Collections InStyle will take place at Zappeion Hall from March 15 to 19. Paris presence Meanwhile, a small group of designers is set for the Pret-A-Porter Paris trade show, taking place February 1 to 4. Loukia, Celia D. and Thessaloniki-based Konstantinos are participating in the Atmosphere section, Costas Faliakos and Kathy Heyndels will be at the Studio, while accessories designer Dimitris Dassios will be part of The Box. In early March, the Vendome Luxury Show at the glamorous Ritz hotel will welcome 30 designers, among them Greeks Chara Lebessi, Veloudakis, Mi-Ro and Christos Costarellos. Also in March, Yiorgos Eleftheriades and accessories designer Maria Mastori will present their collections at the Tranoi trade fair. These promising developments are largely due to the fashion weeks, which opened the door for salon representatives to take a look at designers and establish communication. Exchanges began last year, with a number of designers, including Deux Hommes and Eleftheriades participating at French trade fairs.