Japanese Fashion for Beginners: Where to Shop

Dick Thomas Johnson Shopping Tokyo Cat Street Harajuku

Go on any explore page and type Japanese fashion and you’ll get endless pages of eccentric colorfully clad youth flooding the tag. Despite Japanese society’s penchant for sameness and overall diversion to diversity, when it comes to fashion it seems that Japan is having way more fun than the rest of the world. While the height of Harajuku fashion has died down since the end of the 90s, Japan still remains a central hub for designers, models, and influencers to flock to and explore their own style. Japanese fashion isn’t just for the styling elite though with some careful digging even true beginners can change up their style. Here I’ll introduce five stores in Japan to start you on your fashion journey.

Begin with Basics at UNIQLO

It seems a little strange to put this retail giant under the label of “Japanese fashion” but Uniqlo really is in a league all it’s own. The retail giant has been propelling Japanese fashion forward through economic dismay with functional clothing meant to last customers for years. Unlike H&M, Forever21, and Zara, Uniqlo doesn’t focus on fast fashion trends. Instead, the clothing while cheap mimics high-quality designer clothes that can be mixed and matched year after year. Currently, Nigo of the very hype BAPE brand is the head of design so you can also expect some great Uniqlo only collaborations as well.

Find High-End Designs at HARE

The unique history of Japan, has a huge influence into the way people wear their clothes today. The very traditional silhouettes found on samurais and geisha still bleed over into modern fashion and HARE takes those designs to the next level. The brand is very reminiscent of Yohji’s collection without the expensive price tag.

Shop Pop-Punk/ Gothic Looks at Listen Flavor

Alternative fashion sticks out the most even in Japan. Usually, prices for gothic alternative pieces start around $200 since they’re usually custom made. However, Listen Flavor is a popular destination for alternative aficionados. With an emphasis on “Pop, Cute, and Cool” you’ll be able to find a variety of items here from platform shoes, all the way to purple studded jackets you’ll be able to find anything to fill your pop-punk/ gothic soul.

Discover Kawaii Culture in DokiDoki6%

You can’t mention Japanese fashion without thinking about Kawaii Culture. While Kawaii culture has managed to branch out across the world in pop culture but no one does “cute and colorful” quite like Japan. For those obsessed with Decora, Fairy Kei or anything else cute and colorful DokiDoki6% is the store to visit. Open since 1995 DokiDoki6% seems to be a mainstay in Japanese fashion and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Created by Sebastian Masuda his vision can be seen on the likes of Nicki Minaj, Kyari Pamyu Pamyu, and brought to life by the Kawaii Monster Cafe in Harajuku.

Discover Hipster Heaven at Kinji

We’ve all seen those memes of Japanese people wearing DARE shirts and college football jerseys as fashion. If you’re wondering where they’re coming from Kinji is the place to look. A giant thrift store filled with just about everything you think. I’ve found everything from Champion sweaters all the way to Yohji Yamamoto dresses. Kinji’s prices are very affordable and with some careful digging, you’ll be able to find some gems that can truly last a lifetime.

Branching out style wise can be intimidating. It’s hard to know where to start or even what looks good on you. But hopefully this list will help give you a good idea on where to begin. Do you have any stores you’d recommend?

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