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Tokyo is seen as one of the most fashionable cities in the world, with an horde of coveted designers building their empire from its streets. To generalise there is more of a focus on fashion in Tokyo in comparison to other cities, with the average person spending double on apparel than what someone would in the UK, and significantly more on high end goods. Due to this Japan has become an epicentre for contemporary fashion and thus the ideal place for a 10 day shopping spree. This article aims to be just a beginner’s guide to some of our favourite stores in the central areas of Tokyo.
The Parking Ginza
The Parking Ginza is Hiroshi Fujiwara’s newest concept store, taking over where The POOL Aoyama left off. The store is a two story space in the basement of the Sony building; just find an elevator and go down. Bonjour Records and Cafe de Rope occupy the top floor, with Parking Ginza and a rotation of pop-up stores in the basement. These included denim by Vanquish & Fragment, C.E, Nike Lab and plenty of other brands. It also hosts events, with Midnight Market taking place while we were in Tokyo. Cafe de Rope offers high quality coffee and food all served on Fragment-designed crockery to cater for those wanting fashionable cheese on toast, and Bonjour records stocks a range of musical offerings from around the world. Parking Ginza is a must visit for anyone in Tokyo.
Supreme has three stores in Tokyo, the first opening in Daikanyama in 1998. All 3 stores will be very familiar to anyone who’s been to the London store. Each store is similarly sized, and styled. Gonz statues, campaign photos, clothing located on the walls, you know the drill.
Bape stores are scattered across the city, with AAPE, A Bathing Ape and Bape Kids all having their own seperate stores. The interiors are bathed (excuse the pun) in First Camo and stock a multitude of obscure accesories from camera straps to baby Bapestas as well as more usual items. The stores all have a distinct aesthetic, for example the Shibuya store’s entrance has a glass floor over a conveyor belt of classic Bapestas that glide past you as you walk in.
Neighborhood is Shinsuke Takizawa’s creation. Starting off as a clothing brand aimed at Tokyo’s biker scene, it has now become a Japanese streetwear staple with a huge following. High quality clothing and a range of products are hallmarks of NBHD. The stores stock a huge number of items, including the fabled incense chambers, with the fragrant sticks inside seemingly burning incessantly. The stores are well located and have a distinct ambience to them.
GIP (Guerilla Incubation Period) is WTAP’s flagship store in Tokyo. A military inspired interior complete with an old Vietnam war-era canvas inside. The store has quite limited stock and sparse shelf displays but it does also carry Tetsu Nishiyama’s other line, FPAR.
Harajuku is home to Hiroki Nakamura’s Visvim with three flagship stores; Visvim, FIL and Indigo Camping Trailer, as well as Little Cloud Coffee. Whilst many may only know the brand from “them Visvims Kanye wears”, Nakamura’s vision stretches far beyond the FBT silhouette, with his aim to create ‘living traditions’, drawing from the archives of human history and applying it to the world today. This has created incredibly high quality items designed to look better with age, and encouraged to be worn in all conditions. The stores are well laid out with the product displays making them feel more like a showcase of the brand or a museum rather than actually being shops with things for sale. Whilst Visvim prices are not for the faint hearted, in Japan it is distinctly cheaper than the UK making it worth spending whilst you’re there and stocking up on those much needed damaged items.
Kapital is an interesting shopping experience with three seperate stores, with the largest of the three requiring you to take off your shoes in order for you to be able to enter, followed by the requirement of wearing strange slippers to go be able to go upstairs. Almost everything is for sale in the stores with items hanging everywhere. The stores have a huge amount of stock, with Boro denim items being a highlight, in addition to well-priced selvedge denim.
The Real McCoy‘s
Hitoshi Tsujimoto’s The Real McCoy’s (correct apostrophes) produces incredibly high quality garments inspired by vintage american military-wear, denim and sportswear. The Tokyo store is a large underground shop styled with this in mind. Part of a tin clad hangar houses racks of leather A2 jackets and tons of other shit.
BEAMS has numerous stores across Tokyo, from the 8 floor behemoth flagship in Shinjuku to the smaller stores like BEAMS Records, BEAMS Plus, Uniformicus BEAMS, Tokyo Cultuart by BEAMS, BEAMS T, BEAMS&WINDS, BEAMS News, BEAMS Lights and Vaporize to name a few. Basically there are fucking loads of BEAMS stores. The stores sell clothes, shoes, bags, furniture and accessories. BEAMS also stocks its collab with other brands (such as Vans and London’s own Footpatrol) and stock several exclusive collections from other brands like CE and Sasquatchfabrix.
A small skate shop located opposite GIPstore, Mortar stocks all the apparel, decks and other hardware of standard skate shop brands (and is actually one of the few Palace stockists in JP) but it’s the store itself that’s interesting. The store is essentially a small cement skatepark with a café and bar. We were invited to one of the skate sessions they hold at the store and ended up going back a few times just to have more of the surprisingly good coffees they sell.
Atmos/Sports Lab by Atmos
A chain of sneaker stores with the flagship on Meiji Dori, you’ve likely heard of Atmos. Atmos has produced a lot of sort-after collaborations and the stores contain a wide array of trainers to suit anyone’s taste.
The world-famous LA sneaker boutique has a small store in harajuku, very close to Supreme and Neighbourhood. The shop stocks a range of trainers as well as its own clothing line.
Often considered one of the best stores in the world, with seven floors of shopping, DSM Ginza is a very cool space similar to the London store in regards to aesthetic as well as brands offered (DSM’s generally standard stocklist) but definitely worth a visit nonetheless.
New York’s famour retailer has a massive retail space on Harajuku’s Cat Street. Stocking a wide range of brands including collaborations.
A large department store in Shinjuku, this is Tokyo’s answer to Selfridges.
RLDS and RRL
RRL is a top-of-the-line homage to the Old American West and early 1900s workwear, whereas RLDS is more Americana, 50s-90s workwear with bits of military wear. Both stores are really tastefully decorated in an aesthetic that suits the brand’s inspirations. RRL Tokyo is quite possibly the most aesthetically pleasing as well as impressively curated stores I have ever visited, with staff dedicating their styling to the brand.
Kicks Lab is a big sneakerhead spot in Harajuku. The two story building is dedicated to new releases from all the usual suspects. Kicks Lab is worth visiting purely for the display of rare and vintage trainers.
Fools Judge is located on the same street as Kicks lab, Supreme and Neighborhood. Two seperate stores very close to each other but each doing the same job, reselling rare products at high prices. The stock does change but you can expect to see some really special items. Signed Kanye Bapestas, 1st series TNFs, Jordans, Supreme box logos; the list reads like a hypebeast’s wet dream. However the prices are very high: don’t expect to find anything at a ‘steal‘ price but if money is no object then no grail is unreachable.
There are a lot of Kindal stores dotted around tokyo and all resell a range of menswear, womenswear, bags and jewellery. The stores are normally split into sections for high-end, streetwear, handbags and accessories and are a great place to find items. Don’t expect to stumble upon hyped items at low prices, but the prices are fair and approaching cheap on Japanese brand standards (e.g. FPAR). These stores have a tendancy to be a pain to find, usually residing above street level with a small lift as the only access.
Rinkan is similar to Kindal with similar items and prices but less stock. However it is really worth visiting as many of these stores as you can. Every store will have different stock and if you’re walking past one don’t miss the opportunity to have a quick look.
RagTag stores offer a range of streetwear/luxury fashion as well as more vintage style clothing. The stores are easy to find and will often have discounted prices and offers.
Other resell stores
The above four shops are just named examples of the larger consignment chain-stores. These stores and stores like them are dotted all over Tokyo. The number of individual stores makes it just impractical to list them all but if you’re shopping in areas around any of the aforementioned stores you’ll see them. They’re almost all worth visiting and a lot are not at street level so keep an eye out for signs leading up stairs or elevators which are adorned in brand names. One thing to note is that while 99% of these stores pride themselves on guaranteeing legitimate items and take checking items very seriously, some stores sell a blend of legitimate items and snide ones. We only came across one store doing this and the fakes were pretty poor. Just keep an eye out and leave the store if anything looks off.
Alongside stores reselling the latest Supreme, Bape and whatever other hype brands you can imagine, Tokyo also has a vast array of vintage stores. Unlike the average UK ‘vintage‘ store, which consist of your dad’s old Levi 501s and faded check overshirts, Tokyo’s are all curated, well organised and generally specialising in a particular style and filled with hidden gems. Original WWII combat boots, 1950s work pants, marine rings, 1930s chambray workshirts, WWII B15 and G1 flight jackets and 70s Chuck Taylors (actually from the 70s) are all the norm. The prices in these places vary but there are some bargains to be found. Besides, there aren’t many places that can sell you a 75-year-old unworn jacket or a trench coat signed by a 50s East London gang.
Other stores not mentioned but worth checking out: Head Porter, Stussy, BRING, GR8, Chrome Hearts, WISM, Nigel Cabourn THE ARMY GYM, Pure Blue Japan, Keshiki, Kinetics, Bounty Hunter, A.P.C Underground, L.A. Avenue, Rama, Kskit, Kuumba bookshop, White Mountaneering, Engineered Garments, Sophnet and Nigo’s Curry Up.
- Get a pocket wifi device – you will get lost without Google Maps
- Get a passmo (oyster card, but also buys stuff in vending machines, same as an octopus card in Hong Kong)
- Generally most speak English to a certain level
- 7/11 has free cash withdrawls for internationals, normally a good rate
- Love Hotels
- Most bars allow smoking inside, some restaurants as well
- You can drink alcohol in public
- Nomihodai bars are all you can drink -that isn’t a challenge
- Tipping is not expected
- Smoking outside of designated smoking areas is a no no
- Japanese store prices will often not include tax in the marked price
- Ask for tax free as with a passport you can often avoid paying tax
- Speak to people, we got some of our best recomendations for food and drink this way
- Japan has basically no petty crime, you’re safe everywhere
- If you can’t find your uber at 4am just ask a pimp and they’ll escort you to it
- Japan is a very respect-driven culture, show some and it’ll be reciprocated
- Nigos Curry house called ‘Curry Up’ is amazing
Words by George Robertson
Photography from George Robertson and Elliot Elsley
Edited by Daniel Hawksworth