Japan fashion is watched from around the world, much in the way New York City street style and Nordic design is often a source of inspiration for international designers. Japanese fashion has a notable impact on streetwear and the creation of unisex (or non-gendered) clothing lines, and makes an equally important mark on high-end accessories. As more global travelers flock to Japan, the explosion of luxury fashion in Tokyo has become a huge draw. Those browsing the chic stores of Omotesando, Ginza, and Shibuya can’t miss these Tokyo boutiques, highlighting the best of Japanese fashion:
Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto is widely admired in the luxury fashion space and the creator of several international brands, including online-only S'YTE, “genderless” Ground Y, and Y’s, which does luxury wear for the everyday. Y’s is Yamamoto’s flagship brand and the Omotesando Hills location opened in April 2018. The retail space is “created in the image of a light box,” and features pieces from every Y’s brand, including Y’s PINK, Y’s exclusive, and RISMAT by Y’s.
American designer Virgil Abloh, also the creative director of Louis Vuitton men and the mastermind behind one of Hailey Bieber’s wedding dresses, has the Tokyo flagship of his streetwear label OFF-WHITE in Omotesando. The OFF-WHITE retail space is Wall Street-inspired and also serves as an office space for Abloh’s Something & Associates venture. With a news ticker wrapping around the main retail space and racks neatly lined up underneath, OFF-WHITE creates a retail experience unlike any other in Tokyo. Abloh’s streetwear has been highly influential to Japanese fashion—so much so that former OFF-WHITE buyer Mao Kashimada was inspired by Abloh’s Japanese presence to launch ROGIC in 2018, a unisex line of men’s streetwear that fits women.
Comme des Garçons Aoyama
Founded by Japanese designer Rei Kawakubo in 1969, Comme des Garçons is arguably one of the most recognizable Japan fashion brands in the world. While Comme des Garçons has expanded significantly—with multiple lines and a brick-and-mortar presence in international fashion capitals like Paris, New York, and Seoul, visiting their Omotesando flagship remains the essential CDG shopping experience. The ultra-mod design of the Aoyama store makes it feel equal parts clothing store and museum. The store features limited-release Comme des Garçons items and selects from multiple CDG lines, like Play. (The pieces from Play can be spotted by the signature Play heart integrated somewhere into each design.)
Issey Miyake Reality Lab
Evocative Japanese designer Issey Miyake studied in Japan before moving on to the London and Paris fashion scene. He returned to make his official design debut in 1970 and now runs several cutting-edge brands under Issey Miyake Inc. The must-see storefront is REALITY LAB. ISSEY MIYAKE. Designed by Tokujin Yoshioka, the architect wanted to create the feeling of shopping in a laboratory—the store plays with bold aluminum panels, concrete walls, and sharp blues and greens. Among the Issey Miyake brands featured in the Reality Lab are: Issey Miyake Watch (fresh, minimalist analog watches made in Japan), Bao Bao Issey Miyake (Miyake’s colorful bag line with pieces moving from flat to 3-D), and IN-EI (Miyake’s lighting venture, which utilizes recycled fabrics to create innovative shades for light fixtures).
A purveyor of Japanese leather goods since 1935, Kura Chika in Omotesando is a must for those looking for high-quality leather that will last. Under Yoshida & Co., Ltd, Kura Chika is an exclusive leather staple for in-the-know Japanese consumers; They have collaborated with brands like Beams, Sony, and Apple over the years. Kura Chika bags and wallets are made in Japan, and their brick-and-mortar store features several designs that are only sold in their Omotesando retail space.
Marni is an Italian design house with a huge Japan fashion presence. Because Marni is a fixture on the high-end fashion scene in Japan, it’s no surprise that they have 22 stores in the country. Their Japanese flagship store is, of course, in Omotesando Hills, Tokyo. What’s most remarkable about Marni is their genuine fervor for integrating Japanese culture into their clothing style and storefront design. The Omotesando boutique plays with distinctive curves, which connote inspiration and intuition in Japanese art. The color palette throughout the store is a nod to the gardens of Japan. Those botanic Japanese colors also come through especially in Marni’s accessories—the leather clutches and bags have gorgeous, well-placed pops of color.