Fashion in Japan is not just the fetishised Harajuku modes. The scope and variety of style and fashion is what I love about Japan. There’s a strong sense of personal style, and each person is proud of their look. There is not just one “look book” for the city. Experimentation is for both guys and girls, and you rock what you wear. There’s no side-eye, which I find incredibly refreshing. (It’s so hypocritical of our supposed “liberated” Western sensibilities that I get stares in Sydney for my fashion sense. And we consider the Japanese repressed! Oh, casual racism, you so funny!)
Head over to street style captures like Style Arena and you’ll see there’s a whole world of difference beyond kawaii-style that the Western media insists on feeding. And it’s in these street style blogs that you’ll see much of the clothes worn are actually second hand, and that both men and women appreciate pre-loved fashion.
All the street style pics below are from the amazing Style Arena website, so please, check them out. They give me style inspo every damn day, and I love them!
This environment of style alchemy is coupled with a great appreciation of clothes – not just as a mass commodity, but as something to be treasured. The large population frequently shop second-hand to find their individual mix of style, sometimes wearing recycled items with high-end labels. It’s not uncommon to see a Commes de Garcon shirt matched with used pants, shoes and a belt. I love the sense of liberation that comes from this melding, and I’ve learnt a lot about personal styling from watching these incredibly savvy locals.
Their acceptance of used items, not as a necessity, but as creative play means that used fashion is not looked down upon. It’s actually COOL, and the large amounts of GREAT used clothing stores is a testament to this. As an eco-fashion lover, Japan gives me much joy. Clothes are in great condition, styled well, and displayed with care and love. And I LOVE it!
Whether you love sustainable fashion, thrift store deals, unique pieces, vintage fashion, eco-friendly fashion, op-shops or second-hand clothes, you have not seen anything until you’ve come to Japan. There are literally dedicated sections for Tiffany jewellery, Burberry and Levis vintage jeans. These people know how to take care of their clothes.
There are second-hand stores in nearly every city or town – I’ve written about my favourite pre-loved fashion store in Kyoto, Three Star (which is like an art gallery/ boutique!) and Desert Snow in the lesser travelled city of Niigata. There are just so many! But if you are in Tokyo and you are pressed for time, avoid the higher-end pricier places in Harajuku or Shibuya, and go where the locals shop. Koenji.
Below are just a few of the shops in the Tokyo suburb which has (in my humble opinion) some of the best second-hand stores in Tokyo. Welcome to Koenji, bitches! 🙂
Every suburb has a “shopping street”, so when you get to Koenji, you’ll start at Koenji train station and find yourself close to Koenji’s main shopping street. All the stores below are found either on, or just off this main shopping street.
For Pucci prints, 60’s-70’s tones, and groovy patterns – head to Lover Soul.
Oh, yeah, of course, your second-hand store has an entire rack of used BURBERRY coats hanging outside a store! #fuckilovejapan
Stores cater to both guys and gals, so all you men out there who love recycled clothes, you’ve got tonnes to choose from!
And second-hand fashion is not just retro – it’s avant-garde, contemporary cuts and colours.
Marco Polo focuses on shirts – flannels, over-shirts, work coats.
Jap-glish is a thing…. So, uh…. there’s a store called Slut, which sells used & vintage clothes, including kids clothes…
7 Days – more affordable – as it was winter, they focused on winter coats – unisex.
SMALL CHANGE – big impact. I love this store. It’s a little treasure trove of gorgeousness (mostly for femmes), and I find it overwhelming and delightful all at the same time.
2nd street is another store that features more modern, contemporary styles and brands. HUGE selection for guys. And their displays and fittings are better than some of the boutiques and department stores in Australia.
I’ve been to Koenji 3 times in 5 years, always in winter but it never disappoints. If you love eco-friendly fashion and vintage, head to Koenji for your a selection of excellent second-hand clothes.
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