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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Harajuku, Koenji, Osaka – Everlasting Model

There are extra classic retailers in Japan than wherever else. Notably 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 fashionable that it’s more and more specialised. In Ginza, the luxury space of Tokyo, there are a number of retailers promoting pre-owned purses, some of the 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 and so they don’t essentially overlap. These embody worth, entry, historic significance, uniqueness, high quality and character. The great factor is that in Japan you are feeling every phase is catered for; it’s a educated market, so discovering an absolute discount isn’t straightforward, however what you need will likely be there someplace. 

Under are the three areas we centered 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 massive manufacturers and teenage fashions, which is barely complicated, notably 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 army lifeless inventory or grungier kinds operating from Nineteen Forties leathers to Nineteen 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 excellent eye, however is a good private shopper too – a few of the greatest issues Alex [Natt, photographer] and I purchased have been his solutions. 

Berbejin – Top-of-the-line recognized, and normally busy. A spread of Americana, army and sportswear, however a great, pretty high-end choice. The army stuff is on the again, the uncommon denim downstairs.

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

2nd Road by Jumble Retailer – 2nd Road is a series of second-hand retailers, most of that are extra fashion-orientated and fashionable. However the downstairs of the Harajuku department is de facto good, with good items moderately priced: I picked up a pale-pink rayon jacket for £90. As elsewhere, the most costly and rarest items are those hanging from the ceiling. 

Pigsty – Additionally a series, 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 received an outdated pale yellow Harrington for about £65 (although keep in mind the trade price is nice 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 very fact the whole lot is in plastic wrapping (like a comic-book retailer) is a lifeless giveaway. 

Laboratory – Good for band T-shirts, and fairly a grungy choice total – fashionable upstairs, older downstairs (as is usually the way in which). Somewhat 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 appears like an actual Japanese neighbourhood – much less affluent, with the one vacationers right here for classic (although even they don’t normally make the journey). Extra like a spot for the purists.

A lot of the retailers are scattered across the space to the south of the prepare station, within the coated purchasing 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 wish to be onerous to seek out. 

There’s a lot classic right here – notably someplace like Whistler – that it’s value reminding your self prematurely what you’re there for. Personally I discover it useful to have a small hit checklist 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, looking and flicking and usually staying open-minded. As I’ve written earlier than, I typically discover that essentially the most pleasurable facet of classic. 

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

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

Whistler – Somewhat little bit of a stroll away, Whistler specialises in American clothes and has a tremendous vary of footwear. As one shoemaker put it, he may be taught your entire historical past of American footwear by looking these cabinets; Alex purchased an excellent pair of unbranded demi-boot moccasins. Be sure you go upstairs too (separate entrance): that’s the place I discovered my 40s chinos. 

Trunk – Principally European, actual classic to fashionable, 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 a web based store too

Large Time – A sequence, with branches round Japan. As their on-line store reveals, 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: giant, rambling however value sorting by way of. 

Small Change – Much like Large Time: males’s and girls’s, just a little patchy, but in addition cheaper and with a wide array. 

Oh and in the event you go to Koenji then do pop into Terry Ellis’ store, Mogi, which mixes new and outdated clothes with people artwork. Characteristic on that coming individually.


Buying in Osaka opened my eyes to how massive 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 best way youthful individuals wore classic, too, was inspiring – mixing unusual militaria with noughties designer labels for instance. It introduced house how a lot second-hand clothes permits individuals to precise themselves, as a result of there are such a lot of eras and kinds. 

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

Acorn – Merely essentially the most high-end, curated classic store I’ve ever been to. Not a lot of items on show – maybe 200 – however essentially the most sought-after variations of the whole lot. 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 other, 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 model, in situation, in worth) and rewarded going by way of rack after rack. 

JAM – One of many new-era locations, however that does imply it’s low-cost and there’s a wide selection. If you happen to’re inquisitive about extra fashionable 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 unique, extra seaside really feel. This little classic store is run by an ex-McCoys worker and is very nice; not value travelling for, however actually popping into in the event 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 introduced and curated. It appears like a daily open air store till you discover most issues are classic. The highest ground has a wider vary – none of it pre-Nineteen Sixties, however once more a wide selection. 

As to what I purchased, other than 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 worth. And I do know Cromford will be capable of do it.

I’m certain all will seem on PS in some unspecified time in the future, and we will discuss then concerning the ins and outs of them. 

Within the meantime if anybody has any questions on this checklist – I’ve had dozens of messages already from individuals wanting ideas – 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

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