For years it was on top of my bucket list; that trip to Japan. For me, Japan can not be compared to any other country, it is like a different league. From crazy gameshows on tv to structured waiting lines in front of the subway. The most beautiful landscapes you have ever seen versus robotic restaurants. What can I say? It is all true and somehow it just works. Which brings me to this other point of contradiction; fashion in Tokyo.
Although many Japanese people have a simple and sober lifestyle, yet the fashion scene in Tokyo is crazy and outstanding. There seem no rules when it comes to dressing up and that is why it is so great to walk down the streets of Shibuya, Shinjuku and Harajuku, just to name a few areas. While in Amsterdam we are sometimes still a bit shy about experimental looks, in Tokyo they love it.
The right blend
So what to expect when in Tokyo? Think Harajuku girls dressed up in princess dresses with sky high platform shoes, alternated with avant-garde catwalk looks of Japanese designers like Issey Miyake and Comme des Garcons passing by every other minute. It is just part of daily life in Tokyo.
Still many people in other parts of Japan (Kyoto or other smaller cities) occassionally wear a kimono, but not in Tokyo! You will hardly find anyone wearing them, unless if it is in Ginza or if it could be the next catwalk trend of Balenciaga, Off-White or Undercover; some of the booming brands in the main capital. Despite the fact that not many people are wearing a kimono in Tokyo, the influence of this heritage piece is still strong in Japanese fashion, both in the use of fabrics and patterns.
Tokyo Shopping Guide
So when you are in Tokyo, where to go for shopping? I tried to answer this question for you when I was there. Of course every area has its own charm and I would definitely recommend visiting the creative surroundings of Daikanyama, cosplay heaven Akihabara and high street fashion walhalla Shibuya, but for this article I will outline the most remarkable shopping areas of Tokyo for every budget.
Ginza – $$$
This is the upstate fashion scene of Tokyo. Ginza is not only home to renowned fashion designer shops, it is also known as department store heaven. Around the famous Ginza Yonchome crossing you will find various department stores such as the exclusive Wako, Matsuya and Ginza Six that carry all the high-end brands. Don’t skip the Dover Street Market which is located in a small alley but offers at least 7 floors of experimental fashion and gadgets. Warning: bring your wallet as your fashion hearts needs everything here. From all the collections of ‘homebrand’ Comme des Garcons to designer pieces of Jacquemus and J.W. Anderson. Ps. When you have time left, bring a visit to the Whitestone Gallery (they represent beautiful art of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama) and of course the famous Tsukiji Fish Market.
This area is well-known for the ‘Harajuku girl’ and yes, if you are looking for that style, you can definitely find it in one of the many vintage or special shops they carry around the famous Takeshita Street. Furry bear clutches or rainbow shirts anyone? You name it, Harajuku has it. But Harajuku has much more to offer for shopping.
There are many cool second-hand stores with vintage clothing and remades. Some of them are somewhat out of reach – anyone interested in a t-shirt of Supreme x Louis Vuitton of €1200,-? With a little patience though, you are able to find beautiful hidden gems in the small streets of Harajuku (ps. check them out around Cat Street). The style of the shops is more ‘urban’ than Ginza. Street brands such as Supreme and A Bathing Ape rule the world here, just like the numerous (exclusive) sneaker stores. If you still want your Adidas Yeezy’s, this is the place to get them in a second-hand shop. My personal favorite? Opening Ceremony. Beautiful interior with a great mix of small and upcoming brands.
Shinjuku $- $$$
If you are looking for a crazy nightlife or arcade game halls, then Shinjuku is your place. However it is also fun for shopping. Shinkjuku hosts the most Gothic and Lolita shops in the world. You can get your full outfit in the chain store Marui, which has everything in stock for this beloved look in Tokyo. Also the iconic department store Isetan is based in Shinjuku. Isetan does not only carry all the high-end designer brands, it is also a huge supporter of smaller Japanese fashion brands like Mint Designs and Mastermind. Other than that, Shinjuku is very interesting by night, observing the hosts and hostesses being all dressed up in Kabukicho like popstars for a night in their clubs.
And finally when you are done shopping… Don’t forget to enjoy the delicious sushi or Ramen noodles!