24 Issey Miyake

The bread-and-butter creations of many of today’s high-end brands are their lower-priced, low-end lines and collaborations, which have been rolling out in spades since the recession dropped its bomb on fashion (take a look at Comme des Garcons’ Black and Jimmy Choo for H&M, as recent examples).

Issey Miyake Inc., though, is taking an entirely different approach, albeit in a completely why-didn’t-anybody-else-think-of-this-before? type of way. Instead of introducing a completely new low-end line, it has brought together existing lower-priced pieces from several of its main lines and is selling them in one boutique — 24 Issey Miyake. This carries select items from the Pleats Please and Me collections, as well as a few original 24 Issey Miyake pieces.

The store also de-emphasizes fashion’s propensity for being season- and age-specific by offering clothing and accessories in a plethora of colors (20 alone for the travel-friendly crumpled “parachute” blouses), with the aim of making them wearable year-round.

Prices start at about ¥10,000 for T-shirts, blouses, skirts and pants, and top out at ¥30,000 for jackets.

24 Issey Miyake can already be found in four of the Kanto region’s Takashimaya stores — Shinjuku, Tokyo, Yokohama and Tamagawa — and branches in other department stores across the nation are forthcoming. (Misha Janette)

Shinjuku Takashimaya 5F 5-24-2 Sendagaya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo; (03) 5361-1111. For more information, visit www.elttobtep.com

The Guild Prime’s position

Just off Meiji Dori in the Harajuku area of Tokyo (and nestled under Japanese label Lithium Homme/Femme’s Flag Shop) is the Guild Prime store, which opened its doors to shoppers last September.

Owned by the Sanyo Shokai Group (known for their Loveless stores in Daikanyama and Aoyama, and for their distribution rights in Japan of Burberry clothing) the fashionable location confirms its intent to target a youth market. And with a larger store opening in Sakuragicho, Yokohama, this spring, it seems it is already set to expand its vision.

Guild Prime is a single, polished floor filled with select goods from brands such as Dsquared and Marc Jacobs. The store also offers its own line of goods as well as exclusive collaborations with hot Japanese labels such as Over The Stripes (Gremlins T-shirts complete with an accompanying toy) and Heath (Gentaro Noda’s casual and inexpensive collection). Womenswear includes sensual outfits by Ato, Eat My Heart, and DressCamp.

The emphasis here is on cool abundance, a sign of the changing heart of the neighborhood. Be ready to be surprised by the store’s eclectic variety, including a Swarovski-crystal encrusted kickboard for stylish cruising. (David Stuchbury)

Guild Prime, Sando Building 1F, 6-16-18 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo; (03) 6419 3091. For more information, visit www.loveless-shop.jp/#/shop

‘Mooks’ makes freebies worth buying

Do you sometimes think that every woman on the street is carrying the same tote bag? It’s probably because they most likely are — it’s also very likely that those bags were novelty gifts that came with the many, hugely popular “mooks.”

Mooks, thick publications that are a cross between a magazine and book, are not new. But these fashion mooks are more recent and, put bluntly, they are more like brand catalogs masquerading as magazines, complete with glossy fashion spreads, interviews and product information.

A Japan-born phenomenon, they are available nationwide, usually in convenience stores as well as bookstores (some are now even exported to Japanese bookstores abroad). What has made these so popular are the sought-after freebies, such as brand-name tote bags, pouches, and T-shirts, that come at enticing prices of around ¥1,000. Brands that have published such catalog mooks include Cath Kidston, A Bathing Ape, Stussy, Zucca, Jill Stuart and Fred Perry.

The purveyor of these mooks is Takarajima Inc., which publishes and oversees all content themselves. In November 2009, Takarajima proved the undeniable success of mook publishing when its Yves Saint Laurent beauty mook, which came with a black, gold-embroidered and pink-lined YSL tote, made a whopping initial run of 1 million copies. Even at ¥1,300, women were quick to buy the catalog. Soon to be released from Takarajima will be Undercoverism, agnes b., and Marc by Marc Jacobs. (M.J.)

For more information, visit tkj.jp/tkj—brandmook (Japanese only)

Fashionably late entrance of Abercrombie & Fitch

If the young and hip denizens of Japan had had their way, a true-blue Abercrombie & Fitch store would have debuted in Tokyo way back in the middle of the last decade. But better late to the streetwear party than never, and making it just in time for the end of 2009, the U.S.-based company has made quite an entrance with its 11-story flagship on Ginza’s main drag (the building is the tallest in the area). So desired were their goods, that without any advertising or campaigns pre-empting the debut, at least 1,000 fans lined up for the opening. The Tokyo store is the spitting image of its New York counterpart, with cavern-like lighting (bring a flashlight), booming club music and the famous scantily clad “store models” who pose with shoppers for Polaroids, which the shopper gets to keep.

If the models don’t allure the curious, then the overpowering wafts of perfume and cologne escaping out to the Ginza sidewalk might. We already know that the luxury sector is being stuffed back into its genie lamp, but the opening success of this tower of mid-price streetwear is like weighting it and dropping it into Tokyo Bay. (M.J.)

Abercrombie & Fitch, 6-9-10 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo; (03) 6252-1892. For more information, visit jp.abercrombie.com

A brief stop for men

When 31-year-old entrepreneur Jun Yamazaki was searching for a business venture, he discovered an opportunity in menswear that was yet to be exploited: high-quality underwear. After the success of his first Luscious store in Harajuku, Tokyo, he has opened one in Osaka, and now has plans to open another in Fukuoka Prefecture.

Luscious offers men what women have taken for granted for a long time, the chance to pamper themselves with luxury underwear. Expect no leopard prints or fur-lined pomp here, though. This is about (mainly) serious underwear for “real” men. Items include the pocketed (presumably for loose change or gum . . .) briefs by popular Japanese label Over the Twelve; Swedish Resterods’ bold printed stripes and skull emblems; and Luscious’ own line.

Kitsch-free, Luscious appeals to local youths in low-hung denim as much as to tourists and gift-seeking girlfriends.

Yamazaki himself proudly admits to wearing briefs from the store. But being the man he is, he won’t say which ones. Prices range from around ¥3,500 to ¥9,000 for silk varieties, with socks and room-wear also available. (D.S.)

Luscious Tokyo, Takeda Building, Jingumae 4-26-23, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo; (03) 5577 4042. For more information, visit www.luscious.co.jp

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