If The Ginza is Tokyo's equivalent of Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, then Cat Street is SoHo—five years ago. This narrow pathway (named for the stray felines it attracts) is the core of Omotesando-Harajuku, a hip area packed with bistros and art galleries, international boutiques and rising-star local designers. Cat Street itself is young and fun, with great people-watching (from the couture-clad to the spiky-purple-haired) and the electricity of a neighborhood taking shape.
For proof that SoHo-ization proceeds apace, enter Esquisse (5-10-1, Jingumae, Shibuya-ku; 81-3-3499-1481), a new steel-and-glass complex with 18 boutiques from designers like Alexander McQueen, Chanel, Gucci, and Boucheron. Sleek architecture and interior design pump energy into transplants like funky New York fashionista Anna Sui (no. 6-1-4; 81-3-3486-1177) and Belgian designer Stephan Schneider (no. 6-1-3; 81-3-3486-0377), where a staircase serves as modern sculpture amid his upscale fashions. At Burberry Black Label (no. 6-18-1; 81-3-5468-3047)—and nowhere else in the world—the London fashion house shows its young line of T-shirts, rugged sportswear, even a plaid Vespa. At the mint-green-glass emporium hhstyle.com (no. 6-14-2; 81-3-3400-3434), a Star Trek-esque glass tunnel-ramp connects three floors displaying classics of modern design from Eames chairs to Philippe Starck coffee tables.
Shops featuring local talent include Be Neat (no. 6-7-20, Jingubashi Annex Bldg.; 81-3-5468-0145), with girlie dresses and romantic blouses, and Gossip (no. 6-14-6; 81-3-5774-5035), with asymmetric tops and cigarette pants. X-girl (no. 6-14-21; 81-3-5464-3351), started in New York by the band Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon and closed in 1998, has been resurrected here—though in their current incarnation the clothing and jewelry are a bit less rocker-chick and a tad more cutie-pie.