Experiences: The Guide To Streetwear & Designer Shopping In Tokyo
Recently I paid my first visit to Japan thanks to two close friends of mine hosting a wedding in Kyoto, once the original capital of the country it is mainly known for its traditional architecture and scenic environment. A large part of travelling to Japan will contain food, lots of it, as well as the culture shock but if you’re into fashion then shopping in Japan is one of the greatest plus sides.
Known as one of the great fashion capitals Tokyo has much to offer with some of the largest designer flagship boutiques in the world located in Harajuku and Ginza to more eclectic stores such as Dover Street Market and Isetan. Of course we can’t go without mentioning the history of streetwear in Japan from brands such as A Bathing Ape, Supreme, Undercover and more who have deeply enriched the fashion scene in Tokyo. There is also an abundance of curated vintage stores dotted around, sneaker boutiques and more to fulfil everything you need.
It honestly is practically impossible to list every store that you could visit while out in Tokyo but we’ll do our best to break down the ones you must visit and keep this list updated.
Our Experiences series is a deeper look at a place, environment, event or similar where we aim to provide context and insight. Think we missed a place? Let us know in the comments below for us to add in.
Department Stores/Multi-Brand Stores
Isetan is one of the original department store chains in Japan founded back in 1886 with locations across Singapore, Shanghai, Bangkok and further into Asia. Isetan’s flagship store located in Shinjuku is not just one building but a series as it pays home to a complex separated into mens and women. It stands as a pillar of authority and influence within Japanese retail similar to the likes of Harrods in London and Barneys in New York. The Isetan main building houses womenswear, makeup and accessories with a seperate building for mens around the corner. The general area of Istean also houses multiple car parks as well as a stop for the Tokyo Metro Marunochi Line.
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The clothing racks at Isetan are carefully curated from designer brands such as Gucci, Prada & Saint Laurent, Japanese labels such as Visvim, Neighbourhood & Cav Empt all the way down to familiar names such as Acne Studios and A.P.C, in conclusion there is something for everyone at Isetan.
A tucked away store within the busy building of Harajuku’s Laforet is GR8 Tokyo. Its name is popular within Japanese streetwear and is best known for under the radar brands and edgy labels on the rise such as Hyein Seo, RHUDE and Heliot Emil, while providing a variety from designer, techwear and street. Some of the more accustomed names that the store carries include Off-White, Balenciaga and Heron Preston.
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Described best as a concept store it’s heavily unique in the city of Tokyo, while being attached to a department store it feels very much within its own space and surroundings. The fitout itself is packed with product, a contrast to the outer Japanese garden area which is another entry/exit point for the store.
One of the most beautiful stores in Tokyo, Restir is a heavily curated high-end and streetwear store based in the upmarket district of Roppongi. Just a short walk from the central Metro station, Restir is well known within the Tokyo fashion community as they carry labels ranging from Raf Simons, Burberry and Maison Margiela as well as introducing newer international labels such as A-COLD-WALL*, Reese Cooper and Palm Angels.
The store feels likes you’re walking into a museum with stunning concrete, minimalistic design and three levels split into mens, womens and unisex. Next door to the main store is a surf-themed café that is often used for events and pop-ups. Restir is a must visit for any fashion head or tourist.
Dover Street Market Ginza
Ginza is often known for its upmarket and high-end stores, the majority of fashion houses will have a large flagship within the district but a store that stands out, and is really a destination is Dover Street Market Ginza.
The store was founded by Rei Kawabuko, the founder of Comme des Garçons who had already seen great results with Dover Street Market in London. In 2012 the Ginza location opened where it houses 150 brands across seven floors of shopping with large scale art installations that crosses over art, retail and fashion. You can find what the majority of other Dover Street Market’s stock globally such as Comme des Garçons, Gucci and Undercover as well as store/location exclusives.
Comme des Garçons Homme, Play, SHIRT
Cult luxury streetwear store Union is a newcomer to the Japanese retail scene, the opening of their 2,000-square-foot boutique in Tokyo back in April 2018 was its first new retail space in 27 years. Union was originally founded in Soho, New York in 1989 by Mary Ann Fusco and James Jebbia, who would later launch iconic streetwear label Supreme in 1994, Union continues to carry an experimental mix of American, European and Japanese labels that fits their diverse customer base. The new space feels right at home in comparison to their famous Los Angeles location with heavy Californian inspiration throughout the store such as light sandy colours, large speaker systems and a hand printed silk screen wallpaper depicting the west coast culture.
Noah NYC Clubhouse
A brand strongly taking action in regards to consumption, the environment and sustainability is Noah. Born out of New York City the brand has quickly expanded into a Tokyo flagship store titled the ‘Clubhouse’ which is inspired by surf and beach culture as a modern day bungalow right in the heart of Harajuku.
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The store consists of two levels and is broken into sub-sections such as a lounge area, kitchen area, library and a tailoring section on the top floor. In fact interior designer Estelle Bailey-Babenzien, talks in detail on the influences behind the design and concept. A must visit for anyone travelling into the Harajuku area the store stocks the latest from the brand including collaborations, accessories and Tokyo exclusives.
Skate and surf inspired streetwear
Graphics and tailoring
United Arrows/United Arrows & Sons
Originally starting with a single store in 1989, United Arrows has grown into a booming retailer across Japan and has cemented itself as a top of mind brand when it comes to shopping. United Arrows is based around menswear but through their subsidiaries have expanded their offering into other stores/brands that allow them to target various markets.
United Arrows & Sons launched in 2010 by their Creative Director, Motofumi “Poggy” Kogi, as a subsidiary of United Arrows this off branch venture focusses on a more low key and street aesthetic. The particular sub brand of United Arrows and led to many successful collaborations with brands such as adidas Originals, New Balance and KITH.
H Beauty & Youth
A must visit sub-brand of United Arrows is H Beauty & Youth within Tokyo’s Aoyama district spanning three floors across 1,300-square-meters. It carries predominately premium sportswear, streetwear, vintage pieces, cruise collections and loungewear for mens and womens. Also be sure to visit Pizza Slice right underneath and their vintage selection on the bottom floor.
A Bathing Ape/BAPE
Tomoaki “Nigo” Nagao founded A Bathing Ape (BAPE) all the way back in 1993, fast forward to today and the brand has around two dozen stores across Japan which include sub-brands for BAPE. No doubt we all know the influence and power the brand has had over the years and coming to its birthplace is definitely a special moment. When in Tokyo it is only right to visit the Harajuku flagship store that will likely be flocked with tourists.
Off-White c/o Virgil Abloh™
One of the largest brands in the world right now doesn’t need an introduction and the Tokyo store located in Aoyama is a must for any Virgil Abloh fan. The layout designed by Family New York is inspired by a sterile office space that pays home to a fictional company titled “SOMETHING & ASSOCIATES”, it features desks with computers, changing rooms that look like rooms for bathrooms, water coolers and even an LED ticker screen that shows live updates of the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
Virgil Abloh, founder & Creative Director
The famous and ellusive jewellery label turned collaboration icon has one of the most memorable flagship stores in Tokyo. The Aoyama location in particular is a must visit as its set within a mansion and is themed as a castle, to top it off it has an outdoor basketball court where the net is made from Chrome Hearts chains. The building is over 2,000-square-feet, making it the largest of all Chrome Hearts stores around the world.
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While there are four locations for Chromes Hearts in total which include Ginza and shop-in-shop within the Isetan main building, the Chrome Hearts store in Harajuku will likely be a convenient stop being one of the most central stores across the road from United Arrows & Sons and down the road from the likes of Union Tokyo.
Supreme’s influence and popularity within Japan shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, it’s even noted that Japanese tourists would go the New York store in the early days and from their purchasing early on led to the rise of the brand in Japan. There are three stores across Tokyo, the most famed and popular being the Harajuku location for its ease of access. Expect lines every drop day there and the pricing to be higher compared to the American counterparts.
Iconic streetwear brand
Exclusive and limited drops weekly
Visvim is one of Japan’s most well known brands and is in a class of its own. Their Tokyo flagship which is dubbed “F.I.L” is an abbreviation of Free International Laboratory, and refers to a laboratory where the fabrics and patterns, which are important aspects of the brand’s concept, are researched. Down a small back alley in Omotesando the store is located within a basement of a building, once you enter you’re introduced to monochromatic and clean lines through stone and white fixtures. The store displays art carefully curated by Hiroki Nakamura, founder and Creative Director of Visvim, to accompany the beautiful stock on the racks and displays.
Iconic Japanese brand
Native American and workwear inspired
Exceptional quality and design
B1 5-9-17 Jingumae,
Shibuya-Ku, Tokyo 150-0001
Photos: Clutch Magazine
The ever so popular Ragtag first popped on in 1985, now the second hand retailers boasts 15 stores across Japan that all specialise in designer clothing and goods for men and women. The largest and most well known outlet is the Harajuku store which opened back in 2012, it spans across three floors. Ragtag is well known for steals from such brands as Comme des Garçons, Yohji Yamamoto, Vivienne Westwood and more with a wide variety of styles ranging from designer, streetwear, luxury and more.
Designer second hand goods
6 Chome-14-2 Jingumae,
Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0001
Photo: SEVENTIE TWO
Much like Ragtag, Rinkan is another second hand store often flocked by locals and grail hunters with a selection across sneakers, designer and luxury goods. Rinkan has a few outlets across Tokyo but the Shibuya store is the one to hit, from experience and reviews the pricing can be a little bit on the steeper side but you’re paying for rare, hard to find items.
Designer second hand goods
Iconic in Japanese retail
Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0041
With 20 years of history Berberjin is one of the best vintage stores not just in Tokyo but around the world. Through careful curation and buying the store offers some of the widest and best selection of Champion, army surplus, denim, sportswear and workwear at very affordable prices. I personally made a ton of purchases from their Champion selection option for some of the vintage 90’s fitting sweatshirts and they ran around $100-$150 NZD, they also sparked inspiration for our Garamond Hoodies.
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Owner Yutaka Fujihara is well known within the vintage world and Japanese retail often supplying designers and Creative Directors of brands with references and pieces that may be suitable for new collections. Also while you’re down this lane in Harajuku you’ll be surrounded by other great vintage stores.
SH Bldg. 3-26-11 Jingumae,
Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0001
Photos: Clutch Magazine
Vintage goods from sportswear, army surplus & more
Some of the best selection in the world
Champion, band t-shirts & more
I bet you will be walking into an atmos store, it is one of Japan’s largest chain and is the forefront of Tokyo sneaker culture. Founded in 2000 by Hidefumi Hommyo, it started as a tiny sneaker shop on a narrow street in Harajuku as it gradually expanded they were quicky stocking major brands such as Nike, adidas and Puma which allowed a wider variety for the Japanese consumer. Fast forward 19 years atmos has gone on to cement its place in sneaker history and lore as a must visit store. The retailer has gone on to do collaborations, exclusives and pop-ups with the largest sneaker brands further gaining worldwide attention and love.
Wide range of sneakers
One of the biggest retailers in Japan
Exclusives & collaborations
A small but impactful consignment store located right about Union Tokyo in Harajuku. WORM stocks some of the rarest and most sought after sneakers in the city of Tokyo while also catering to the hype of Yeezy’s, Off-White x Nike and more. Majority of the stock they carry is deadstock and is shrink wrapped in plastic, WORM claims to have around 1,000 sneakers on display at all time. If paying top dollar for a deadstock pair isn’t in your budget they also have a large table with an assortment of used sneakers at fair prices. Around the corner of the store is a tribute to the Jordan One and holds a number of Chicago One’s, Royal’s and Bred’s since the sneakers first inception back in 1985.
Wide range of consignment sneakers
Rare and hard to find pairs
Ranging from deadstock to used pairs
Like this article? Please leave a comment below to tell us what you think and if we missed a place you’d like to recommend let us know and we can add it in.
Author: Zayyar Win Thein