27.2 C
New York
Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Harajuku, Koenji, Osaka – Everlasting Fashion

There are extra classic retailers in Japan than anyplace else. Significantly in Harajuku, the style space of Tokyo, and in Koenji, a district about 40 minutes from the centre. 

However elsewhere too – Osaka, historically a style centre in Japan, has high-end locations like Acorn in addition to scores of recent pre-owned retailers. And even someplace small like Kobe across the bay has higher classic than London. 

Classic has grow to be so well-liked that it’s more and more specialised. In Ginza, the luxurious space of Tokyo, there are a number of retailers promoting pre-owned purses, probably the most spectacular being Allu, which has 5 flooring of Hermes and Chanel. In Harajuku, the Berbejin group opened a brand new retailer simply to cater to the nineties style of genuine band T-shirts and black Levi’s.

Individuals purchase classic for plenty of causes they usually don’t essentially overlap. These embody worth, entry, historic significance, uniqueness, high quality and character. The great factor is that in Japan you’re feeling every section is catered for; it’s a educated market, so discovering an absolute cut price isn’t straightforward, however what you need might be there someplace. 

Under are the three areas we targeted on throughout our go to – Harajuku, Koenji and Osaka – with the favorite retailers in every, plus some observations alongside the way in which. 


In Harajuku the classic is blended in amongst large manufacturers and teenage fashions, which is barely complicated, significantly given the neighbourhood’s hectic pedestrianised streets. 

Some like Berbejin are well-known, others like Jumble much less so, nevertheless it’s value persisting – every typically has a speciality, whether or not it’s navy lifeless inventory or grungier types working from Nineteen Forties leathers to Nineties metallic.

I ought to say that we owe a debt to Ethan Newton who confirmed us spherical a few of his favourites. It seems Ethan doesn’t simply have an important eye, however is a good private shopper too – a few of the greatest issues Alex [Natt, photographer] and I purchased have been his recommendations. 

Berbejin – The most effective recognized, and often busy. A variety of Americana, navy and sports-wear, however a superb, pretty high-end choice. The navy stuff is on the again, the uncommon denim downstairs.

Faux Alpha – A part of the identical group, however with extra of a give attention to older Americana and denim. Plus some deadstock on the right-hand aspect. 

2nd Avenue by Jumble Retailer – 2nd Avenue is a sequence of second-hand retailers, most of that are extra fashion-orientated and trendy. However the downstairs of the Harajuku department is absolutely good, with good items fairly priced: I picked up a pale-pink rayon jacket for £90. As elsewhere, the costliest and rarest items are those hanging from the ceiling. 

Pigsty – Additionally a sequence, and the one we went to in Osaka wasn’t nice. However this one, in Harajuku, was higher. Like Jumble, it’s barely cheaper than the likes of Berbejin however with some good items. I bought an previous pale yellow Harrington for about £65 (although keep in mind the change fee is sweet proper now.)

Banana Boat – Good for lifeless inventory: classic clothes that has by no means been worn. There’s another classic too, nevertheless it’s principally high-end. The actual fact every little thing is in plastic wrapping (like a comic-book retailer) is a lifeless giveaway. 

Laboratory – Good for band T-shirts, and fairly a grungy choice general – trendy upstairs, older downstairs (as is commonly the way in which). A little bit cheaper than Berbejin and its kin, however the product isn’t as pristine both. 

Vostok – I discovered some actually good issues final time I used to be right here, again in 2019, however there was much less this time round. There have been some good Levi’s, although as with most classes which have grow to be uber-popular, they have been very costly – £700 and over. 


Koenji looks like an actual Japanese neighbourhood – much less affluent, with the one vacationers right here for classic (although even they don’t often make the journey). Extra like a spot for the purists.

Many of the retailers are scattered across the space to the south of the practice station, within the lined buying space and the streets round. Although a shocking quantity, like Whistler, are additionally three or 4 streets away, nearly as in the event that they need to be laborious to seek out. 

There’s a lot classic right here – significantly someplace like Whistler – that it’s value reminding your self upfront what you’re there for. Personally I discover it useful to have a small hit record of (for me, 40s US chinos, a rayon jacket, some attention-grabbing sun shades) and use that to focus, but in addition be open to inspiration, shopping and flicking and usually staying open-minded. As I’ve written earlier than, I typically discover that probably the most satisfying side of classic. 

Safari – Safari is the perfect recognized of the classic retailers in Koenji, however is definitely six retailers, every with totally different specialities:

  • Safari 1, the perfect and what most individuals would name classic
  • Safari 2, extra trendy American, Ralph Lauren and so on
  • Safari 3, European basic menswear and tailoring
  • Safari 4, modern, trainers and out of doors/climbing clothes
  • Safari 5, European and designer labels
  • And Safari Gallery, antiques, furnishings and artwork

Whistler – A little bit little bit of a stroll away, Whistler specialises in American clothes and has an incredible vary of footwear. As one shoemaker put it, he might study all the historical past of American footwear by shopping these cabinets; Alex purchased an important pair of unbranded demi-boot moccasins. Ensure you go upstairs too (separate entrance): that’s the place I discovered my 40s chinos. 

Trunk – Largely European, actual classic to trendy, so searching jackets blended in with Hermes leather-based. A very nice curation. 

Suntrap – Fairly high-end, with some new clothes alongside classic Americana. Unusually, they’ve an internet store too

Large Time – A sequence, with branches round Japan. As their on-line store exhibits, it’s additionally fairly modern in most locations, however the Koenji department is extra classic and typical of locations on the principle strip right here: massive, rambling however value sorting via. 

Small Change – Just like Large Time: males’s and girls’s, a little bit patchy, but in addition cheaper and with a wide range. 

Oh and when you go to Koenji then do pop into Terry Ellis’ store, Mogi, which mixes new and previous clothes with people artwork. Function on that coming individually.


Buying in Osaka opened my eyes to how large pre-owned clothes is in Japan. In some areas there have been nearly nothing however second-hand retailers, and there was one whole alleyway with tiny specialist locations.

The way in which youthful individuals wore classic, too, was inspiring – mixing unusual militaria with noughties designer labels for instance. It introduced dwelling how a lot second-hand clothes permits individuals to specific themselves, as a result of there are such a lot of eras and types. 

Nevertheless, the overwhelming majority of retailers in Osaka promote what some name ‘new period’ classic – broadly from the Eighties onwards. It’s principally for fashion and uniqueness, fairly than high quality or significance, and whereas actually attention-grabbing, it gained’t be what most readers are after. What we record listed below are the exceptions. 

Acorn – Merely probably the most high-end, curated classic store I’ve ever been to. Not numerous items on show – maybe 200 – however probably the most sought-after variations of every little thing. Three M65s, in three totally different sizes, all completely pale; 5 pairs of big-E Levi’s in unusually wearable sizes and situation; ditto three French moleskin workwear jackets; ditto sun-faded hoodies; and so forth.

Nats – The alternative, nearly. Throughout the road from Acorn, an enormous place with hundreds of things within the again (above). This nonetheless isn’t thrift, however the vary is a lot bigger (in fashion, in situation, in worth) and rewarded going via rack after rack. 

JAM – One of many new-era locations, however that does imply it’s low cost and there’s a wide array. If you happen to’re enthusiastic about extra trendy items (made-in-America Carhartts for instance) it’s value a glance. 

Magnets – Kobe and Osaka are basically one metropolis, because the trade is so unfold alongside the coast, however the streets of Kobe have a special, extra seaside really feel. This little classic store is run by an ex-McCoys worker and is very nice; not value travelling for, however definitely popping into when you’re in Kobe. 

Junk Store – An enthralling store in Kobe, with a number of ranges. The mid-level has an attention-grabbing mixture of eras of out of doors clothes, properly offered and curated. It looks like a daily outdoor store till you discover most issues are classic. The highest ground has a wider vary – none of it pre-Sixties, however once more a wide variety. 

As to what I purchased, aside from the 2 jackets and chinos talked about, there have been two pairs of denims – one 90s and low cost, one 60s and costly – a pair of Ray-Ban aviators and a forties suede jacket. The latter was from Safari and can want some restore work, however that meant it was half the value. And I do know Cromford will be capable to do it.

I’m positive all will seem on PS in some unspecified time in the future, and we will speak then in regards to the ins and outs of them. 

Within the meantime if anybody has any questions on this record – I’ve had dozens of messages already from individuals wanting suggestions – please simply let me know within the feedback under. 


The great denims – behind glass – at Safari 1
Upstairs at Whistler
Trunk in Koenji
Nats in Osaka
Alex being requested to pose in Omotesando

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest Articles