You don't have to book a flight ticket to Tokyo for the best of Japanese shopping – head this way for kimonos, imported crafts, furniture, and the rest of the weird and the wonderful. Plus: Japanese hair salons in KL.
Isetan The Japan Store is a swanky specialty store, featuring 11,000 sq m spread over six floors of fashion, lifestyle and technological products from Japan, with more than 200 brands debuting outside of Japan for the first time.
The store's main entrance located at the ground floor holds court of all the Japanese fashion greats; think Comme des Garçons, Jun Takahashi’s UNDERCOVER, and Yohji Yamamoto. For those whose style leans a little more street, The Studio spotlights next-generation, up-and-rising Japanese fashion designers, such as Kolor, Mame, and N.Hoolywood. Other labels include G-Shock, Porter, and Onitsuka Tiger.
Culture vultures, meanwhile, will do good to skip straight up to The Cube. The floor's layout encompasses 12 experiential areas where customers can delve deeper into the Japanese culture. For one thing, there's a bookstore featuring some 10,000 books curated by book director Yoshitaka Haba of Bach and in collaboration with Kinokuniya.
Dee Zolkifli knows, better than anyone, that everything old becomes new again; and when you’re ready to leave the ranks of fast fashion hounds and join those of the hard-core vintage fiends, Dee’s Oldees and her collection of over 500 worn and well-loved kimonos await.
A treasure trove for throwback finds, Oldees is a vintage webshop that peddles in kimonos as well as traditional Japanese wear for men and children from the ’70s and ’80s. The obis, which can also be recrafted and repurposed into drapes, table runners and other deft home decor items, are older still; she once sold an elaborate, hand-painted maru obi that stretched four metres in length for about RM2,000. Oldees does serve a variety of price points though, whether you’re going for a RM35 kimono jacket in a casual, light fabric or a four-figure full-length kimono in sumptuous shades of gold, red and orange.
Showroom in PJ open by appointment (012 665 6790/www.facebook.com/the.oldees).
Old but gold, ’tis true – especially when it comes to Moniko’s covetable clutches made of decades-old kimonos and obis sourced from Osaka in Japan, as richly patterned as it is rich in tradition: think gold gingko leaves flashing against a deep blue background, or a beautiful gold and silver crane resting atop a striking, shimmering orange Sensu fan pattern.
Try to envision an intersection of fashion, history and social consciousness, and the result is Clare Smith’s KL-based Moniko, where no strip of spare secondhand kimono fabric goes to waste in the recrafting of bags, clutches, purses, wristlets and smaller accessories that are as aesthetically relevant as they are responsible. Upcycling has always been a part of Moniko’s ethos; as a company with a conscience, Moniko also supports and works with NGOs and refugee groups in KL and beyond.
Moniko is one part conversation piece, one part wearable art, and all together a physical proof of participation in Japanese textile history.
Stockists include Japan Park at Isetan Suria KLCC. www.mymoniko.com.
Fan Japan: a wonderland of the weird, the wacky and the wonderful about Japan. A one-stop outlet for imported made-in-Japan crafts, fare and wares, its shelves are stocked with ingenious supplies: accessories, bags, beauty knick-knacks, foodstuff – like miso, roasted black beans and Tokyo Banana – and stationery, as well as traditional Japanese items such as bamboo, crockery, fabrics, tea sets and yukata.
Pile it high, sell it cheap(ish) – or at least that’s the Yubiso way. Think of it as a smaller, more compact Daiso; most things go for RM5 – three colourful felt-tip pens, for instance, will set you back RM5 – but a collectible bottle of Coke costs RM10 and lipsticks go for RM15. It’s a mixed bag of accessories, beauty products, homeware, stationery and electronics, such as cable chargers, selfie sticks and powerbanks. Of special interest are the scented fruit soaps, showcasing bright bananas, watermelon wedges and even purple mangosteens.
Attention, admirers of Japanese aesthetics: All that is form-meets-function, modern minimalist and with a wash of the whimsical can be found at Koncent, the Tokyo-based Japanese zakka outpost that’s the retail arm of design consultancy H Concept. The breadth and depth of the country’s contemporary consumer culture is reflected in the diverse, uniquely Japanese curiosities available in-store: There are the little details, such as animal-shaped cable holders; home decor accents, like furry stools, sleek table racks and handmade Japanese zabuton cushions; and the weird, most notably Cao Maru stress balls in the shape of human heads. There’s something for everyone and their foodie friend – by that, we mean there’s a café corner that serves green tea, coffee and cakes, complemented with books, magazines and titles on design and travel.
For over four decades, the craftsmen of Coreo Hida-Takayama have created clean, sleek wooden furniture for all corners of your crib – think big-ticket items such as chairs and coffee tables, as well as smaller trimmings the likes of candle holders and coasters. Coreo is noted for its traditional Japanese techniques of wood bending and joinery, which is a method of joining wood without using nails for a stronger, more durable finish.
The kendama has arrived in KL. The traditional Japanese toy is made up of the ‘ken’ (handle) and the ‘tama’ (ball), which are connected by a string; kendama enthusiasts then do tricks which take influence from dance, juggling and even the yo-yo. You can join the kendama club (no, really, Kendama Culture, apart from being a webstore, is also ‘a collective of creative people’ in the city who enjoy the toy), but first you’d need a kendama. Choose from different colours or themes; the webstore recently rolled out the ‘Malaysian Breakfast’ series, which is inspired by nasi lemak and teh tarik.