We’ve never met anyone who’d turn down retail therapy. Then again, no other type of therapy on this planet can beat the surging thrill of getting our hearts beating a little faster, brain cells releasing endorphins and pupils instantly dilated at the sight of a beautiful store filled with gorgeous things you can call your own with one fell swoop of a card. More so, if said store happens to be in Tokyo, Asia’s thrilling fashion capital.
Being home to a cluster of the prime fashion vanguards — Rei Kawakubo, the iconoclast that needs no introduction, to rapid-rising newcomer Ambush — is only one of the reasons why Tokyo is a definitive shopping mecca. The city’s vintage scene is also comparable to its European capital counterparts, thanks to Japan’s consumerism wave between the ’80s and the ’90s. Spanning edgy young labels to 1990s Chanel, what’s not to love?
Whether it’s glorious vintage finds or hipster haunts you’re after, here are the 10 best spots to get your dose of retail catharsis in Tokyo. Now all you need to do is ready your wallet and get on the next flight to the stylish Japanese city.
(Main and featured images: Acne Studios)
Known for: Its vintage Chanel paradise.
Why it’s worth your visit: The ultra-rare quilted caviar leather backpack? Check. Quirky Chanel No.5 perfume chain necklace? Don’t mind if we do. On top of the jaw-dropping range of Chanel items galore, gorgeous Gucci and Louis Vuitton arm candies from pre-Alessandro Michele and Nicolas Ghesquière (or even Marc Jacobs) eras make classic investments to add to your growing wardrobe.
Vintage Qoo, Room 515, Central Omotesando, 4-3-15 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo. T: +81 368 042 201
Known for: Sweaters and paper cups of well-brewed joe spelling “Maison Kitsuné”. Both have equivalent amounts of reputed Insta-worthiness.
Why it’s worth your visit: Shallow social media ambitions aside, the boutique and café are hidden gems tucked within the high-end shop district of Minami-Aoyama. Grab a mean green latte cuppa with the café’s iconic fox-shaped cookie at the side and soak in the Japanese-Parisian ambience as you sit on custom-made tatamis. Then head over to their neighbouring boutique, which is just a stone’s throw away, for records and selections from the Parisien and Kitsuné Tee lines.
Known for: #Interiorgoals of which gets countless re-pins on Pinterest.
Why it’s worth your visit: There are two Acne Studios boutiques in town. The latter which only opened in April 2017 is the Acne Studios Blå Konst project store in Shibuya. Dedicated to the freshly launched denim line of the Swedish label, the dreamlike, intimate space was the venue for its worldwide full debut. The other store in Aoyama which carries the main range has an equally astounding interior, too. It’s like the worlds of shopping and art have converged.
Acne Studios Blå Konst, 1-10-8 Jinnan, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo. T: +81 367 127 397
Acne Studios Aoyama, 5–3–20 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-Ku, Tokyo. T: +81 364 189 923
Known for: Its adventurous seven-floor wonderland housing over 150 eclectic cult favourite luxe labels.
Why it’s worth your visit: Concocted by the minds behind Comme des Garçons, Rei Kawakubo and Adrian Joffe, Dover Street Market is the world’s most boundary-breaking shop. The rulebook that dictated how a luxury store should look doesn’t apply. Wander through the seven-floor shop — which feels more like an art exhibition — and when you get peckish, Parisian import Rose Bakery’s café sits right on the top floor.
Dover Street Market Ginza, 6-9-6 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo. T: +81 362 285 080
Known for: Being Japanese cool-kid label Ambush’s first-ever flagship store.
Why it’s worth your visit: Design duo Yoon and Verbal are not just key influencers in the Japanese fashion-music scene — their grip on street-tinged jewellery and garments is also making waves in the global industry. Rihanna, Bella Hadid and G-Dragon are a few of their burgeoning A-lister fans, but their most recent milestone would have to be their nomination as one of LVMH Prize’s contenders. Swing by the Ambush Workshop for an extensive range of store exclusives and Ambush-curated reads.
Ambush Workshop, 1-22-8 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo. T: +81 364 511 410
Known for: Pre-loved original CDGs, Yohjis and Margielas from decades past.
Why it’s worth your visit: Have you heard of Yoshi? You know, the 14-year-old fashion protégé that has Virgil Abloh, Luka Sabbat and Yoon Ambush tapping the follow button for a dose of his daily OOTDs? With impressively deft skills in unearthing vintage Raf, Dries and Vuitton troves, we took his word when he mentioned Ragtag as his favourite haunt in an interview with Vogue. Ragtag has 15 branches dotted all over Tokyo, so accidentally stumbling upon one is super likely.
Ragtag, 1 Chome-17-7 Jinnan, Shibuya, Tokyo. T: +81 334 766 848
Known for: The incumbent water cooler that sits in the middle of the shop and complemented with branded plastic cups. “People steal them all the time, and it’s fine,” said creative director Virgil Abloh.
Why it’s worth your visit: Dubbed “Something & Associates”, the newly opened spatial-conceptual space is filled with a mishmash of work-related visual cues: The four walls are wrapped with a ticker displaying real, up-to-the-moment activity from the Tokyo Stock Exchange; a punch clock by the doorway harkens back to a bygone method of tracking labour; two midcentury desk-and-chair combos come replete with iMacs. Inspired by the store’s interiors, a stationery set available for purchase exclusively at the shop is reason enough to drop by.
Off-White, 5-2-13 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo. T: +81 367 126 839
Known for: Under-the-radar labels like Martine Rose and Hyein Seo side by side with street giants Yeezy and Fenty.
Why it’s worth your visit: Frequented by Japan’s own streetwear aficionados, this multi-label store is nestled amidst the bustle of Harajuku’s Laforet department store. London to Paris and Seoul-cool (pun intended) emerging labels all in one place? Yes, please.
GR8, 2/5F, 1-11-6 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku , Tokyo. T: +81 334 086 908
Known for: Its upscale redefinition of a “garage sale”.
Why it’s worth your visit: Once an avant-garde underground label, Toga is now the homegrown Tokyo label that has a wide-ranging group of enthusiasts from Junya Watanabe to Kate Bosworth besotted. The brainchild of Yasuko Furuta, the label is notable for throwing a healthy dose of the absurd and avant-garde into its wardrobe staples — which explains why it chose to have its flagship store not in Harajuku, but in an unassuming garage with only traffic cones printed with the brand’s name as the telltale signs. Browse through its range of footwear, accessories and apparel you can’t find anywhere else in Japan.
Toga, 6-31-10 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo. +81 364 198 136
Known for: All-vintage Levi’s, iron-on patches and tableware that won’t break the bank.
Why it’s worth your visit: Flanked by large, glowing, neon flamingoes by the entrance, blink and you still won’t miss the aptly named vintage heaven. Step in and expect to discover American garments that are strictly dated from the ’40s to the ’80s. And if you’re lucky enough, you might just catch one of its irregular sales.
Flamingo, 2 Chome-25-12 Kitazawa Setagaya-ku, Tokyo. T: +81 334 677 757