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The avant-garde of old and new, plus a quick reminder that the ‘real’ sales are nigh

by Misha Janette and Samuel Thomas

In November last year, Issey Miyake opened an extra-large Omotesando shop called “Reality Lab,” which features his more experimental lines all under one roof. These include 132 5., a wearable line of origami-folded clothing cut from fabric derived from recycled PET bottles, and IN-EI, a line of pleated lamp shades and home decor following a similar concept.

With split levels, the shop, just one of now three Issey Miyake spots in the area, has ample space for displays of the popular structured-plastic BAO-BAO bags, while the lowest level houses menswear, including the brand new Homme Plisse label (considered a Pleats Please for men).

The shop was designed by revered artist Tokujin Yoshioka, who has left it bright and spacious with tall windows, concrete walls, and the interiors broken up by bright green-and-blue display tables — a stylish lab if there ever was one. (M.J.)

Ideaco: www.ideaco-web.com.

Gasho offers some anarchic lines

Fangophilia
Fangophilia

Fresh from Chim↑Pom, the anarchic artists representing a disaffected generation, a flash of the Tokyo underground is set for a limited appearance at the Laforet store in Harajuku.

Gasho, a concept store decorated by the artists is open until Jan. 21 and features exciting new work to mark the fifth anniversary of the cult boutique Garter, which is famed for dressing international superstars and street-fashion favorites such as Lady Gaga and DJ Mademoiselle Yulia. The shop showcases avant-garde couture from Japanese brands Meg Miura and F.m.mauvaise, among others, while self-professed “capital of the Hollywood underground” Freak City from Los Angeles and edgy Taiwan-based streetwear brand AMPM Studio join the local talent.

Gasho is also hosting a number of events (to stay up to to date, follow @GASHO2014), culminating in a workshop from Jan. 19-21 presented by Fangophilia, a jewelry label renowned for casting body parts in silver. (S.T.)

Gasho: Laforet Harajuku, 1-11-6 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo. www.laforet.ne.jp/news_events/115

Well-heeled sneakers

As “unwearable” as many of Noritaka Tatehana’s artistic vertiginous, wedge shoes might be, you can’t accuse him of not trying to appeal to the regular Joe. His new brand, The Daughters, is a highly casual and simple line of both flat and wedged sneakers designed for people other than his biggest fan, Lady Gaga.

The line is a team effort involving Yoichiro Kitadate, a creative director who has been named as one of the most important people in sneaker culture, and it combines comfort with ingenuity by using locally sourced materials and artisans who employ traditional Japanese techniques such as organic indigo dyeing.

The brand launched in 2013 and the new boutique T6M in Ebisu carries the entire lineup, along with a small gallery selling prints by artists who collaborated with the brand. (M.J.)

T6M: 1-20-3 Ebisu Minami, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo. 03-6451-2666. thedaughters-tokyo.com

Kansai Yamamoto’s colorful comeback

Kansai Yamamoto is one of Japan’s most-celebrated avant-garde designers, thanks to early support from the likes of David Bowie, who often wore his designs and gave him credit for the Ziggy Stardust look. Now the designer is making a bit of a comeback, with the strong reception of his work as part of the highly successful “David Bowie is” exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London last year and, in Tokyo, his pop-up shop in the Shinjuku Isetan department store.

The shop, which ran for two weeks, carried casual items splashed with some of Yamamoto’s most popular graphic designs, such as a traditional Japanese erotica print awash in rainbow colors, as well as “tribute” items, of which I was lucky enough to be one of the artist collaborators.

“I’ve only been staging extravaganzas for (the past few) decades,” Yamamoto said. “But seeing as how Asia, particularly China, is now more fashion-conscious than ever, I wanted to come back to designing clothing for people.”

His next project, he revealed, would be working on the inside and outside of a home in his colorful Yamamoto style. (M.J.)

kansaiyamamoto.jp

Hold tight, the best of sales is to come

The start of the new year in Japan may be as synonymous with “the sales” as it is with the first shrine visit of the year, but for those who have not yet braved the crowds and chilly weather for a bit of shopping, January still has plenty more bargains to offer. In fact, your patience may be better rewarded.

The clearance or final sales may have grown out of stores periodically slashing prices to shift unsold stock, but they’ve become a fashion-diary fixture in their own right and are arguably the best opportunities to grab yourself a new look for much less. Those on the hunt for luxury goods would do well to try the big department stores such as Isetan, who will be holding their sale from Jan. 15 nationwide, while younger shoppers can flock to Lumine and Parco, who are holding sales right now, or Laforet, who will be throwing open the doors to their immensely popular Grand Bazaar on Jan. 23. (S.T.)

For more information, visit www.isetan.co.jp, www.lumine.ne.jp, www.parco.co.jp/parco, and www.laforet.ne.jp.