Tokyo’s second-hand boutiques are a dream for vintage fashion hunters – but only if you know where to look. With this guide, you’ll discover where to go for everything from designer gems in mint condition to grungy band T-shirts and streetwear.
Tokyo’s fashion scene is one of a kind, with some of the world’s most out-there street fashion and subcultures – so it’s no surprise that it’s the perfect place to indulge in a second-hand shopping spree. That being said, this sprawling metropolis can be hard to navigate. Read on to discover the vintage hotspots to hit up on your next trip to the Japanese capital – then give fast fashion the flick and update your wardrobe in a more sustainable way.
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Neighbourhood guide for vintage fashion fiends
Known as furugiya, or recycle shops in Japanese, used clothing stores can be found in fashionable neighbourhoods across the city. A good place to start is Harajuku in Shibuya. Known the world over for its colourful and bizarre street style, it’s an excellent spot for people-watching – especially on Sunday afternoons. It’s here that you’ll find some of the best high-end consignment boutiques. From Harajuku, you can walk to nearby Jingumae and Maruyamacho – make sure to check out the famous Shibuya Crossing while you’re in the area.
Kōenji, which is on the outskirts of Tokyo and was recently dubbed “Tokyo’s coolest neighbourhood” by The Guardian, is another hotspot. With an entire street dedicated to second-hand fashion, it’s a paradise for vintage lovers – and, if you don’t find a treasure in one store, there are plenty more nearby. Rumour has it that even Lady Gaga has done a spot of shopping here.
Are you a music lover looking for a one-of-a-kind outfit to wear to your next gig? Stop by BOY in Shibuya. This tiny shop, hidden away in Maruyamacho, specialises in quirky and affordable Japanese pieces with grungy, alternative vibes and a connection to music – think well-worn denim, plaid, old-school sweaters and indie-chic patterned shirts. The owner, Tommy, also stocks an assortment of new and pre-owned CDs and vinyl and helps put on events and exhibitions around Tokyo – check his Instagram for details.
The narrow graffiti- and sticker-covered entrance gives a hint of what’s to come in this stripped-back Harajuku basement. Walk downstairs to discover DOG, a legendary vintage clothing store that has been celebrating the weird and wild side of Tokyo fashion since 2000. Think leather biker jackets artfully adorned with skulls and studs, colourful Doc Martens-style boots and plenty of faux fur, buckles, belts and harnesses. Keep an eye out for the mannequin standing guard outside the entrance – her cyberpunk-meets-Mad Max outfit changes regularly.
Found beneath a pretty blue-and-white striped awning on a corner in Kōenji, Kissmet specialises in effortlessly cool high-end “archive” pieces. Look out for relaxed sweaters by Maison Margiela, trench coats by Issey Miyake and the perfect pair of slouchy slacks by Yves Saint Laurent. The prices here aren’t exactly cheap, but it’s still better than buying these top-end designers new. Sister store LAUGH by Kissmet is also nearby and specialises in second-hand men’s streetwear.
If you’re on the hunt for quality American and European brands with a Japanese twist, you can’t go past TORO Vintage Clothing. A five-minute walk from Harajuku station, this tiny timber-walled gem is on the third floor of an otherwise unremarkable building and has been around for close to three decades. Check out its DECORATE by Baccum range, in which vintage knits have been updated with weird, sometimes subversive, embroidery – think flies, headless Barbie dolls, cigarettes and even tubes of pet toothpaste. TORO’s nearby sister store, OTOE, is also worth checking out.
Stepping inside Grimoire in Harajuku is like walking into a fairytale world – one full of bohemian lace and ruffles, Victorian embroidery, retro lamps and slightly creepy dolls. It’s the centre of the Japanese subculture known as dolly-kei, a girly gothic look inspired by antique dolls and traditional Eastern European fashion. This treasure trove not only stocks vintage clothing from around the world, but also its own brand of accessories and shoes to complete the look.
Looking for a cheap kimono to take home as a souvenir? Head to Chicago Jingumae in Harajuku. With numerous locations in Tokyo and another in Kyoto, Chicago is a major player on the thrifting scene – but this branch is the biggest, with around 100,000 pieces covering everything from cute dresses and T-shirts to wedding dresses, all at affordable prices. The colourful kimonos, yukatas and happis start from just ¥2,000 (£14). You’ll also find an assortment of pretty vintage textiles.
This chain of thrift stores has outlets across Japan, but the best is a sleek two-storey shop in Kōenji packed with stylish womenswear, ranging from high-street to luxury brands, and popular streetwear for men, including pieces by Supreme, A Bathing Ape and Timberland. There’s also a collection of exclusive sneakers and a cabinet of quality watches. The smaller 2nd Street store in Shibuya is also worth a visit.
Unlike many of the locations on this list, Modescape specialises in menswear, ranging from luxury brands to hard-to-find streetwear pieces (although it does still stock womenswear). Thrifty shoppers will find high-end clothing from the likes of Y-3, Raf Simons, Prada and Comme des Garçons, as well as accessories such as Issey Miyake’s covetable Bao Bao bags. The flagship store is in Shinjuku, and there’s another smaller location in Shibuya. If you need a little extra room in your suitcase to accommodate your new vintage wardrobe, the shop also buys second-hand clothing.
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