While in Japan recently shooting content for the launch of our size? Exclusive ASICSTIGER GELSAGA ‘Balloon Fiesta’ we also found a small window of time to take a glance at what people were wearing on the streets and in the stores of Tokyo. Styles varied from one area to the next, with retail offerings and architectural structures following suit.
In the short amount of time we had to run around, we managed to cover a lot of ground and meet a lot of great new people. The streetwear and fashion community in general in Japan is so welcoming. As well as playing host to some of the most innovative brands in the world, Tokyo is also a mecca of sorts for anyone with an eye for real vintage products. You’ll be even more surprised at just how perfect a condition garments dating back to the 70’s have been kept in.
Through broken English and limited Japanese we managed to chat to a few of the shop owners and staff in three areas to learn a bit more about them and their surrounding areas. As you can see the styles vary throughout, featuring a mixed back of footwear including Nike Air Force 1’s, Cortez, adidas Originals Superstars and Converse One Stars. The beauty about hunting for products in Japan is that there are often colours exclusively produced in Japan that you wont be able to find back home.
The primary streets of interest in Daikanyama are mostly concentrated around the impressive T-Site, a Tsutaya Books flagship store with several other great retail offerings located within the same complex. Surrounding the site are APC, Journal Standard, Stüssy, Nanamica among plenty of others, all with the cleanest shop fits to keep you inspired while searching through the racks. It’s only when you look at the way products are arranged together in Japan that you can really see an appreciation in a different kind of way than that of the UK. Daikanyama is well worth the 10 minute walk from the busy Shibuya crossing, and serves as a nice quiet alternative if you’re after an easy stroll around for a couple of hours.
A short walk down the road, you’ll arrive in Nakameguro, another haven of sorts for those searching for one-off vintage products. For first-timers to the area, the beauty of not knowing where you’re walking will often lead you to finding the most incredible, seemingly hidden vintage shops. There are a few small winding streets just off the main high-street along from Nakameguro station where you could easily get lost for hours just checking to see if you’ve missed any golden opportunities. On a previous visit to Japan I spotted one such shop on the off-chance on the way back from Golden Brown’s Burgers (located on the same high-street), looking upwards I could see racks of denim masking out a small window frame. We checked up a small flight of stairs and came across a cavern of vintage dating back to the 40’s. Moose travels to every corner of the globe sourcing incredible vintage pieces for his shop, and had recently even travelled out to Alaska on the hunt for jackets.
I don’t think we need to tell you too much about the importance of Harajuku to Tokyo’s history in streetwear. An area where both Hiroshi Fujiwara and Nigo first cut their teeth and began developing their own respective brand empires, it’s also home to a mixed bag of retail. Stüssy, Carhartt WIP, Neighbourhood, XLARGE, NOAH sit alongside some of the most respected vintage stores in Japan, holding stock of items dating back to the 50s, and in some cases beyond. You can often find some great bargains in these locations, but there are also sections strictly for the specialist collector, with vintage Levi’s and workwear pieces running into the thousands.
I came across ‘Penguin Tripper’ on the off-chance, having walked past it on my previous three trips to Harajuku, and couldn’t believe what I was rifling through on the rails. It turns out that shop owner Abe is the biggest vintage Stüssy collector in Japan, and owns thousands of pieces dating all the way back to the brands beginnings.