LF Japan #2
Last time we covered the foundations of Tokyo's fashion culture. Well, a very small part of it. It's based on businesses that started mostly in Shibuya, the commerce behemoth of Tokyo. They're part of the city's heritage and they're now more than established. But that's not where most of the fun happens.
No, the fun happens in the gazillion small shops on the back streets. As in every city that does exceptionally well, small scale commerce is thriving. You can find small shops where the owners sell their stuff practically everywhere. And you might think these guys are pretty isolated - but nah, they're in touch with everything that happens globally, more than anywhere else we've been.
Here are some of the places we've visited:
1. Wacko Maria
Japanese brand that became a cult among streetwear savvy guys, Wacko Maria looks fresh, devilish and a bit contentious. Their flagship feature a super nice cafe and after you've browsed their stuff you can chill listening to their pretty impressive vinyl collection. Fun fact: the owners (former football players) started out as a bar ( therefore the Guilty Parties line) and only later turned into one of the most hyped brands in Tokyo.
Hidden on small hill near Omote-Sando, Lantiki features a super nice selection of clothing and accesories: from curated second-hand Dickies to natural dyed apparel, this store will sure give you some great insights into Tokyo's streetwear culture. And the guys there are tops!
3. Ripndip pop-up via Beams
Adorable white cat showing you the middle finger printed ON EVERYTHING. Nothing not to love about this pop-up. Left from there with air-freshners, very inspired purchase.
5. Tokyo Cultuart by Beams
Beams' venture about Tokyo's art, design and culture. Their current expo featured the work of glassware artist Baku Takahashi. His colourful and humourous glass sculptures were greatly integrated among Beams' curated selection of books, stationery, artist's merch and so on.
6. Off White - Aoyama
Honestly we thought Virgil Abloh's clothes were targeting a more chav/ superficial segment until we saw his stuff for real. Well well well, Virgil's not only hype, seems that his products are really thought of in terms of details and materials. The whole collection and store layout had lots of nice touches. The puff around Off White might actually also produce a lot of hate around it, but it's a pretty great store to visit.
7. Bloom & Branch Aoyama
A quiet and stylish concept store focused on seasonless pieces celebrating craftsmanship, tradition and great materials. The store's cafe COBI COFFEE offers locally roasted specialty coffee and tea.
8. Descente Blanc
Our view about sewing was dramatically changed when we entered this store. Skiwear apparel with a history of a little over 80 years, the brand has impeccable clothes mostly done with a state of the art seam welding technique that they patented. The most technically advanced brand of streetwear that we've seen around ever. Take a look at their impressive history over here: http://www.descente.com/en-world/ourstory/history/
Another fav in Tokyo, the brand features “basic clothing created by digesting unique interpretations of elements from motorcycles, military, outdoor, trad, etc. and also suggesting this lifestyle”. We especially loved their singular aesthetic and experience of the shop, quite unique in its way.
1 Living Dining Kitchen - got it? This store named after a Japanese real estate method of describing apartments has a slick selection of men's apparel. Their across the street annex features home deco stuff complementing the apparel selection really nicely.
Another brainchild of BAPE's founder Nigo, Aape has a more casual take on streetwear. The products have a let's say rougher feel to them, but that's an interesting niche to look out for on the Japanese market.
Small store with an interesting selection featuring not so usual textures, fabrics and cuts.
13. Opening Ceremony
The famous California brand has an interesting store on Cat Street in Jarajuku. Their models have beautiful aesthetics although they kind of lack in crafting quality. It stands out from the crowd, you can notice a slight difference between the American and Japanese take on store, but still a great visit.
14. Billionaire Boys Club
Pharell's co-ownership with BAPE's Nigo, BBC has the purpose to offer quality clothing at decent prices. Well, they're kind of expensive to be honest, but they are well made and as you'd imagine for something owned by Pharell and Nigo, some really fun aesthetics.
15. Motoji Ginza
This is a place that's different than what we've been telling you about up until now. We found this one in Monocle's guide and were reluctant to go in at first. Mainly because it's a traditional custom made kimono shop. You get served by these very nice old ladies dressed up in kimono. If you ask them they'll show you around. They have some of the most beautiful fabrics you've seen. If you're not planning on doing your traditional Japanese wedding soon you can buy some souvenirs (which are not that expensive). The nice ladies there will also offer you green tea if you're nice enough. Oh and by the way, a traditional custom made kimono will get you spending less than your average bridal dress, so hats off to the Japanese again on this one.
16. Ware Mo Kou
We found this store by accident, mainly because they had a 'Not from Paris Madame' cap from https://droledemonsieur.com/ in their storefront. A really solid selection of luxury brands - and when we say solid we mean it.
A vagon like second hand shop with a super cray selection of shirts, jackets, pants and all things useful. Really underground. Collaborates with lots of famous brand and artists - Lady Gaga and Bieber among others.
Plus brands you'll find in various places:
16. Sirloin (stocked in multiple places)
Owned by Central Saint Martins graduates Mao and Alve, who are also a couple, they've been putting out collections since 2013. We've had the chance to see their products in various stores across Tokyo (you can definitely find them at Ware Mo Kou). And oh boy, do they have the cuts. I mean, what you'd expect from CSM graduates. But taken to whole other levels.
An Australian brand that produces exclusively in Japan. Really strong beautiful garments - and since they're Australian you can imagine they've explained everything on their website so here you go: https://man-tle.com/
Well, when you go to Tokyo you're bound to miss something. This was the only big one off our list that we didn't get to see. It's like most Tokyo concept stores - you don't really know what it actually is. This one is made you to look like a gallery, but since we didn't go there here's what it looks like on their website: http://www.graphpaper-tokyo.com/about/
21. Arts&Science http://arts-science.com/about/
Talking about mysterious stores, the prize goes to this one. If you're lucky to visit let us know. From the looks of it, they have a main identity, but they make a different identity for each store, which is a pop-up that they organise when they see a good opportunity. And by they we mean Sonya Park, Arts&Science's Seoul born, Hawaii raised and Tokyo established owner. Each pop-up is different and as we mentioned before, highly conceptual. Read one of Sonya's interviews here: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/2016/12/17/style/sonya-park-styling-arts-science/#.WpWWrxNuab8
22. Chop coffee - Cat street
They had a roastery in Omotesando and they've just opened their coffee place on Cat street. We wouldn't normally feature a coffee shop, since in now times not getting a good flat white is a catastrophe. But this one is pretty different, they have great coffee and took a lot of time on the details. Plus the owners are probably designers.
23. Ginza Fish Market
For those of you who'd never had Japanese sushi, it's different then the sushi lies that you've been served until now. We've went to the fish market which is a nice place to visit in the morning. And had sushi at a random place, which was probably owned by a sushi mogul of Tokyo. They had chips with the owner's face at the 7Eleven's, so he was probably pretty huge. Nice place, best experience is to sit at the counter, where you can see the old sushi dudes preparing your stuff while you wait. Don't be scared if they start screaming when you come in, that's how they greet you.
24. Vava & Tokyo Craft Map
Pictured above - a really nice ceramics and clothing store. Lots of really quality products and cheap ceramic doves you can buy as gifts. The guy selling also gave us a Tokyo Crafts map where you could see all the stores that sell locally made stuff. That thing could be an entirely new Tokyo visit in itself.
25. Shinjuku Goyen National Garden - green house
Best park, best greenhouse. Well, we've just seen two parks (which they treat as museums and close at 4PM), but this was the best one.
26. Naka Meguro area
A really nice area around a Tokyo canal. We've walked around there when going to Wacko Maria. Lots of shops to randomly walk in.
27. Apothek Fragrance https://www.apothekefragrance.jp/
Found this at Journal Standard. Bought a mist spray. Absolutely wonderful. They use natural oils and they have some great combos.
Literally go in every store that sells Japanese cosmetics. Won't be sorry.