There’s no denying the allure of Tokyo; a city that appeals to different facets of the intrepid traveller. The gourmand well-sated by astounding omakase experiences, the zen maestro in solitude within the peaceful shrines and the style savant at the feet of Tokyo’s enigmatic fashion scene. Beyond the spellbinding Harajuku styles that attend to singular tastes as well as the minimalistic silhouettes that blend in with the calm and quaint of the city’s streets, the capital of Japan is also a hotbed for vintage shopping—where subcultures converge with Japan’s reverberations from the US invasion in the ’40s. Back then, Americana vintage was all the rage—with army lapels, biker jackets and aviator sunglasses ruling the roost—and still remains to be a strong influence to Japan’s fashion fabric, even with the rise of streetwear and independent local designers.
Decades on, it’s easy to see how the idea of vintage shopping could stick around, especially with the Japanese’s well-embraced notion of wabi-sabi—a state of mind that embraces authenticity, finding value in things that are used and seeking beauty in imperfection and simplicity. Not only does vintage live on, it is still thriving to this day—an emblematic fixture that supersedes trends and fads that might come and go.
Perhaps the prospects of giving second life to a piece of garment is what truly brings the experience full circle. At the same time, when shopping vintage, you’re purchasing a piece of history, an unexpected newness and at times, the last piece you’ll ever find in this world.
To hunt down the cream of the crop amidst Tokyo’s endless vintage hauls, we spoke to Vogue Japan‘s associate fashion editor Masayo Ugawa as she spills on the addresses favoured by fashion editors and industry folk. Below, peruse her top recommendations for vintage shopping in Tokyo.
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Straying away from the cluttered vision of a typical vintage store, Luik houses its goods with the opulence of space, pared down with a sleek aesthetic throughout the shop. The edit here remains to be mostly luxury—with an edgy selection from fashion houses like Chanel, Prada, Burberry and The Row.
Shop Luik here.
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According to Ugawa, the eclectic edit at Jantiques is the reason why many industry professionals are returning customers. From modern-casual fits to sportier spunk apparel, your shopping haul can comprise of anything really—whether it be colour-blocked trenches, denim overalls and tailored suit sets.
Shop Jantiques here.
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Fun fact, Man Vintage is owned by Japanese model Yuka Mannami—hence attributing to its name. The underlying theme here? Brightly-coloured knits and intricate crochet. Some of the details here are quite the conversation-starters, not to mention, especially comforting when you’re visiting in the cooler months.
Find out more about Man Vintage here.
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“The great thing about this shop is not only the selection of the clothes but you can also shop cool furniture and home decor items,” says Ugawa. Expect to find a tighter edit with the apparel listed—whether it be denim pieces or with statement tops and outerwear.
Shop Hooked Vintage here.
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New York Joe
In the charming neighbourhood that is Shimokitazawa, New York Joe is just one of the many vintage shops situated in this bohemian lane. However, Ugawa touts this address as her favourite. “All of the items here are under ¥10,000, at a reasonable price. Even though most of the things aren’t from a designer brand, I never fail to find something that sparks.”
Shop New York Joe here.
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Mostly revolving around shapes and prints as seen from the ’70s to ’90s, Vini Vini’s offerings are classy and effortlessly wearable. It’s easy to mix and match your picks, given the trusty staples that are stocked—from houndstooth blazers to bootcut jeans.
Shop Vini Vini here.
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The Itimi shopper is ostentatious, unapologetically bold and always up for a good time. Favoured by many celebrities and stylists, this is the spot to cull a one-of-its-kind piece that can definitely jazz up your wardrobe.
Shop Itimi here.