Vintage Shopping Around the World: JAPAN – Kyoto: “Three Star” Boutique

Second-hand clothes shopping is my kind of shopping. It’s a treasure-hunt and a bit of a gamble. I am bound to find something unique, something irreplaceable and it’s also environmentally friendly. Whenever I travel, I’m on the lookout for good vintage clothing and Japan has it in spades. Specifically, the store “Three Star” in Kyoto. I’ve been to this store twice, over 18 months, and it doesn’t disappoint. I’ve been debating whether or not to write about it, but I really love the place and I think it’s great to promote vintage and second-hand treasures. May it succeed!

The first advantage this store has, over a store in Sydney is that the Japanese take good care of their clothing. Their clothes are mended, their shoes are carefully tended to and they store their seasonal clothing very well. There is a strong “reuse” sensibility in some of the hipster/ university suburbs. The idea of personalised fashion using “used” items.

Whereas goods in Sydney can be musty, unwashed or unmended, you generally find that most second hands stores in Japan stock very well-cared for clothes, shoes and accessories.

So if you’ve never done any second hand shopping in your life, because you’ve been put off by the dodgy cleanliness levels…then Japan is your place to start!!!

I encourage you to try your hand at second-hand shopping. As I’ve written before, a unique second-hand piece you find on your travels will remind you of your trip in more wonderful ways than a tourist item or a brand-name new item. History, luck and charm will all be part of the beautiful memory whenever you use your special second-hand piece.

Whether it’s an art deco brooch in Singapore, a scarf in Gothenburg, or a classic wool jumper in Paris, my most poignant memories of the cities I visited are brought back by these items. Fashion and what I wear reflects my personality and for me to find something I like at a vintage store can bring me much happiness: A serendipitous moment that links me to that place forever. Far stronger than any tourist trinket.

Three Star has a great stock of vintage as well as second hand clothes. It was a treasure trove of 70s dresses – mid-calf, long sleeved and breezy. 80s & 90s jackets & jumpers, pants and coats. It has a huge range, everything from Burberry coats to Levis. And it has a large amount of stock for both men and women.

It’s like a fashion education – there is such a broad range of fashion and materials. My biggest tips:

  • Find things you LOVE and are comfortable with.
  • Don’t buy for the sake of buying.
  • If you need an item – choose based on quality materials (wool, cashmere, silk, cotton).
  • Get to know materials and how to clean them. Gentle wool wash, soap & laundry bags are good tools.
  • You will never find the same thing in another store so if you like it but no one else does – I’d still suggest you buy it. My husband & mum really hated (and I mean hated) some items when I showed them, but once I tried it on, they agreed – they were beautiful and the styles were  very “me”. I styled those dressed so they were contemporary and not a costume, and I’ve had (unpaid) compliments from strangers.
  • So find your style. Rock your style. Own it, don’t let the clothes own you.

The first thing that you’ll notice about Three Star is that it looks like an art gallery. Pine wood floors, tall ceilings, and warm bright lighting. The styling is on point.

The entry way and stairs to the store itself is beautifully designed. There’s no musty smell and it’s a real delight to shop here.


There is an adjoining area where new items by up-and-coming designers, remade items (old material made into new designs) & old items are sold. It’s definitely worth a look.

I love the way the clothes are displayed and laid out. it makes things so easy, but be warned, if you’re a lover of patterns, 70s-90s clothes….you will be overwhelmed! So take your time and just browse & enjoy the gorgeous variety.

Second-hand and vintage shopping is an ability to give life to old items which were cherished by their original owners. You can be unique, to find and wear things you LIKE (not just because they are used goods) and to discover styles and cuts you can’t find in mainstream stores.
So if you’ve never tried second-hand – and you’re travelling to Japan – now’s the time for you to try.  Who knows what treasures you will find? 🙂

For more info on Three Star, check out this video by TOFUSenshi which was filmed in Jan 2015.

Or head to Three Star’s Facebook page – there’s so much changing stock!

Pssst…..More slow fashion shopping tips in Japan: For Niigata pre-loved fashion, head to Desert Snow. For Tokyo vintage fashion, head to the suburb of Koenji.

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