If you have been to Tokyo multiple times and have gotten bored of shopping along Ginza or Harajuku, it’s time to venture onto an alternative shopping experience; it’s time to explore vintage shopping.
Furugiya (vintage or second-hand clothes) shops are fairly common throughout Japan, but Tokyo has some of the best shops, with the best selection of items. Depending on the type of store, you may find regular second hand clothes, previous season’s designer items or designer vintage pieces, at a fraction of their original prices.
During my visit, I went to the stores along Harajuku Street near Tokyu Plaza, Ura-Hara area behind Omotesando and Shibuya.
This street behind Omotesando leads to a few unique Americana vintage shops and the famous Ragtag.
The stores around Harajuku have a strong flavor of American culture, where you can find items from American brands such as Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger. Some of the stores also carry a huge stash of southwestern printed items for all your bohemian needs.
Rama, a store on Harajuku street filled with Americana vintage goods.
Berberjin is another store along Harajuku street. They have an online site too.
Two must-see stores around Harajuku would be Jumble Store and Ragtag. Both stores are part of a larger chain and have online stores which you can browse before visiting. Jumble Store carries quite a range of items, from Dickies jeans to the latest designer labels such as Dior Homme and Balmain. However, going through the racks to find a designer item of your size will require time, effort and patience. If you only wish to find designer items, Ragtag would be better. Their store only carries famous labels; both mid-level priced as well as designer.
A 2-storey standalone Jumble store in Harajuku
For truly vintage items, I recommend Kodona and Sullen around Shibuya. Both stores are rather hard to access, but contain true gems. Carefully curated and extremely popular, both stores have to change their inventory frequently to keep up with demand. During my visit, I found beautiful vintage Christian Dior, Kenzo and Burberry pieces that were still in good condition.
Kodona’s décor blends and enhances the pieces that they have in the store.
Before becoming too excited, here are some pointers to note when visiting:
Check: Check the pieces carefully. Some stores will have labels indicating defects or issues with the products. Do not be too excited about the discount given. Also check the stitching and condition and make your own judgment.
Ask: If unsure about an item, do ask the owners. They will be able to provide valuable information, such as the age of the item, condition of the item as well as care methods. They will also be able to provide you styling advice if you are unsure about a vintage item, but absolutely cannot do without it. They should also be able to provide advice on whether alterations should be done or not.
Enjoy: The entire process feels like a treasure hunt. Even if the item is not in your size, enjoy finding beautiful and interesting clothes while digging through the racks.
Decide: Most items are unique and there is only one. Decide if alterations can be done and if you truly would like the item. If you let it go, you probably would not find it again. So, choose wisely.
Contributed by Dwight Tan