One of the most fashion-forward shopping capitals in the world, Tokyo is the home of the concept store. With couture fashion houses, Japanese department stores and niche brands all marketing a slice of their lifestyle, these are the best to check out in the city, according to menswear designer, Tokyo regular and founder of the Dover Street Market-stocked Bunney label, Andrew Bunney.
It felt like a homecoming when Comme des Garçons and its Japanese creative director Rei Kawakubo opened the Tokyo branch of concept store Dover Street Market in Ginza in 2006. Spread across seven floors, this is home to the Comme des Garçons lines, a broad selection of international designers, and special projects such as the limited-edition Gucci collaboration with artist Peter Schlesinger, as well as the Rose Bakery café. One of the original concept stores, Dover Street Market was a game-changer around the world when it opened, and helped to revitalise the business-focused Ginza area of Tokyo, making way for other high-fashion labels.
The Tokyo district of Daikanyama, near Shibuya, is nicknamed “little Brooklyn” thanks to its dozens of cool clothes shops, independent boutiques – and Daikanyama Tsutaya T-site, a bookshop with a difference. While there are plenty of shops with curated book sections around the world, the range at Tsutaya is unmatched. It’s a modern shop that looks more like a posh library – thick wooden shelves are illuminated and hold literally thousands of books. There’s a huge magazine section, international titles, and rare books on every subject – in fact, it’s often easier to find niche publications here than in their country of origin.
When creative director and collector Sonya Park launched Arts & Science in 2003 in Daikanyama, she filled the shelves with antique mirrors, chandeliers and display cases that she’d acquired in Europe — items that were not yet familiar to consumers in Japan – and concept stores in Tokyo had lift-off. The vintage clothing she stocked inspired an apparel line, and now Arts & Science spans seven stores across Tokyo and Kyoto.
Founded in 1918 in Hiroshima, and with the Harajuku, Tokyo, store opening in 1989, One Minute Gallery is the place to go for rare timepieces. It deals in vintage Rolex, Patek Philippe, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Cartier and V&C, among others, and offers repairs and specialist servicing. There’s also a wide selection of watch bands and accessories, as well as unique collabs, including exclusive watch straps made by classic Japanese brand Porter.
In a dazzlingly bright all-white interior, Laila calls itself not a concept store but a “select shop”, and features an array of designer brands, both domestic and international, up-and-coming and vintage. Its philosophy is to carry evergreen fashion – not trend-led – so the chances are you’ll buy something that’ll always be in style. Archive collections from Raf Simons, Helmut Lang and Maison Margiela are also here, alongside selected jewellery, fashion books and magazines.
Visitors to Japan should bring back a Porter luggage bag – the Japanese brand is a truly cool and unique souvenir from the city. Most famous today for its variety of nylon products, Yoshida & Co began crafting bags in 1951, with the Porter brand established in 1962. The manufacturer is renowned for its high standards of design and craftsmanship, and Porter Omotesando is the flagship concept store, showcasing the Porter lifestyle, with bags, luggage and accessories for sale across two floors, sharing the space with other carefully selected brands in keeping with the company ethos. Part-shop, part-museum, a workshop inside the store has demonstrations of the manufacturing process, and a gallery space hosts various special events and showcases.
A department store as you’ve never experienced it before, it’s hard to sum up Tokyu Hands into words. The shop is a rabbit warren of levels selling everything from magic tricks to baby clothes and hardware to miniature farmyard animals. What for? Not even the Japanese are sure, but it’s still everyone’s favourite shop. Arrive early and spend all day here. You’ll find things you never knew you needed.