Japan is my favourite place for vintage because the Japanese seem to value quality more than anywhere else I’ve travelled (so far). From food, to clothing, to customer service, they have a high standard that carries through to even second-hand shopping.
The Japanese aesthetic is to appreciate quality, regardless of age. Sometimes, even more because of its age. They also appreciate older clothes, fashion and design, so they tend to recycle and resell vintage rather than throwing it out. They also take good care of their new clothes and accessories which mean that the resold items are in very good condition. In Japan, there is a huge local demand and market for vintage and second-hand clothes that goes beyond a passing trend.
And the size of Japan’s population means there is an abundance of second-hand stores. Oh, and the clothes and shoes are usually in my size. WIN!
I’ve written about an awesome second-hand store in Kyoto, and I’m always on the hunt for great second-hand or vintage stores wherever I am, even in an incredibly expensive city, like Paris. Second-hand stores allow you to feel more like a local than a tourist. By shopping in these stores, you get out of the manic tourist areas to feel more a part of the city/ town you’re visiting, creating a memory that is more immersive than mere sight-seeing.
And the items you find at these stores will always have the thrill of luck, of treasure, of a surprise…more meaningful than an item bought at a retail chain.
This was my first visit to Niigata (Jan 2016), and I wasn’t really expecting to find such a good second-hand store as it’s a smaller town compare to Kyoto or Tokyo. But happily, Niigata, like every else in Japan, seems to have a fondness for second-hand and vintage.
DESERT SNOW is a store that seems to have a slight Americana-Western bent. There’s Yeezy next to Adidas and Puma, and their men’s denim section takes up an entire wall space. There seems to be more men’s wear – with lots of shoes (from brogues to desert boots), but the women’s section was curated well with on-trend items and a great selection of luxury accessories (Tiffany jewellery blue boxes overload)!
Chūō-ku, Niigata-shi, Niigata-ken, Japan
DESERT SNOW is worth a visit if you’re in town as it has a huge range: from local Japanese brands like United Arrows to vintage denim jackets and jeans, and luxury brands like Gucci. And if you’re a dude who loves denim and shoes – this is your place.
The road that DESSERT SNOW is on has a few other smaller second-hand clothes stores, and they mostly stock men’s clothes. So if you’re a guy who likes value, vintage, thrifting, bargains and brands, keep your eyes peeled in Niigata!
I am not paid by any of the stores I blog about. And I didn’t buy anything from DESERT SNOW because I just didn’t find anything I liked in the time I was there. It’s not always about finding something. 🙂 But I am passionate about ethical and sustainable shopping, and I want to encourage more people to try second-hand and vintage shopping, especially when travelling. The quality and range of DESERT SNOW was pretty sweet, so that’s why I’m blogging about them.
If you’ve never tried second-hand clothes shopping before, Japan is your place to start. The stores are clean, well organised, well-styled and curated with a keen eye for contemporary fashion. You will find something of quality and you will be able to wear it back home without looking like a costume party. And the price is always more reasonable than a vintage store in New York or London. So, please do yourself a favour and check out vintage and second-hand stores when you’re in Japan!
As always, I hope your travels bring you the richest memories. If you stumble upon a second-hand store, take a look inside. The most memorable purchases on your journey can be found in the unlikeliest of places – uncommon, unique and rare – it’s like finding treasure that was waiting just for you. Be bold, explore! And enjoy the adventure. 🙂
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