Rediscover the fun in offline shopping

We round up the five Tokyo flagship stores you must visit this winter

By Reiko Kuwabara
From Alibaba's world-first VR shopping store to drone deliveries, the development of new technologies continues to change the way we shop. So what can physical shops do to win back online shoppers? During August and September 2016, five leading Japanese brands celebrated the grand openings of their new flagship stores in Tokyo. We check them out to see whether physical shops still matter.

Five creative outlets

Ambush Workshop

Shibuya's famed Cat Street welcomes the first-ever flagship for Tokyo-based brand Ambush. The space stretches across 140 square metres and its design remains true to the gender-neutral vibes of the brand’s collections. Situated in the former site of American Apparel’s Shibuya Men’s store, the store houses the brand’s conceptual jewellery alongside a growing number of its original apparel range. Also carrying an extensive range of store exclusives and books for daily inspiration, it’s so full of variety you’re bound to stumble upon something new each time you visit.

Founded by design duo Verbal and Yoon, key influencers in the Japanese fashion/music scene, the brand is noted for its designs that capture the essence of Tokyo street, merged with traditional Japanese techniques and craftsmanship. So far, the brand has participated in various collaborations, listing Louis Vuitton (Kim Jones), Maison Kitsune, Sacai and Undercover as some of their clients. While you’re here, make sure to check out their latest Surplus Sound System collection, which ‘channels a late ’70s reggae- and military-infused cultural clash’.

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Anrealage Aoyama

Ever seen clothes with sound-wave changing prints or built-in ‘augmented reality receptors’? Now’s your chance. Inspired by designer Kunihiko Morinaga’s exploration of fashion and technology, the Anrealage flagship, which opened in August 2016, takes the shopping experience to a whole new level. Located inside the By Parco shopping complex in Aoyama, the space combines high-tech gimmicks with traditional Japanese aesthetics – and the best part is that every single item in here is super-exclusive.

Designed to reflect the transitions that occur from season to season, the space features special sounds created by Ichiro Yamaguchi of electro-rockers Sakanaction. Programmed by Qosmo’s Toru Urakawa, UMU switchable light control glasses alternate between transparent and translucent to support the ever-changing feel. A peaceful Zen-like appeal comes from the central room featuring carefully groomed white gravel and photosensitive white flowers, which react to the flashlights of mobile phones. Here, you will also find many of Anrealage’s signature pieces from the previous collections, including the custom-made patchwork series and innovative technology series, updated especially for the store.

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Christian Dada

Sported by the likes of artist Takashi Murakami, designer Masanori Morikawa’s outlandish creations certainly stand out from the crowd. Relocated from Harajuku to upscale Aoyama, the new flagship store opened in August. Designed by Nao Harikae from Twha, the U-shaped retail space immediately generated a lot of attention for its cracked window displays and mirrors, adding an interesting optical illusion. Hammered by the designer himself, the cracked effects add to the overriding theme of finding beauty in imperfection. When we visited, the store was carrying the brand’s A/W 2016 collection made in collaboration with photographer Nobuyoshi Araki. Influenced by the photographer’s Love on the Left Eye series, the collection features photographic prints, alongside some risqué bondage references of straps and ropes.

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Mintdesigns Aoyama

Step inside Mintdesigns’ very first stand-alone flagship store, where you’ll find a line-up of modern, minimalistic designs with exquisite attention to detail. Garments are simplistic in silhouette, but there is a commitment to textile innovation and quality materials. Having opened its doors in August in the backstreets of Aoyama, the new shop is designed by Jo Nagasaka from Schemata Architects. A contemporary gallery-like feel comes from the bare concrete walls and exposed ceilings. The store houses the full lineup, from the brand’s upmarket ready-to-wear gear to the more casual Sketch line, along with a homeware line and other products produced by Mintdesigns designers Hokuto Katsui and Nao Yagi. Limited-edition items will also be available in store, making for great gifts and Tokyo souvenirs. It’s full of print-tastic inspiration and charming adornments – you can’t help but smile when you step inside the shop.

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Expect the unexpected at the C.E flagship, which opened in September. Located inside the From 1st building in Aoyama, the long-awaited store houses the brand’s latest creations, as well as limited editions that are bound to sell out quickly. Featuring textured white walls and floors covered with broken mirrors, the space also hosts their startlingly original video content. Launched as a joint project between illustrator/graphic designer Skate Thing (aka Sk8thing, who has worked for A Bathing Ape, Neighborhood and Billionaire Boys Club), Toby Feltwell and Yutaka Hishiyama, the brand made its debut in 2011 and has since achieved a cult following around the world. Inspired by collaboration, C.E takes influences from the streets, music and films to create contemporary streetwear with a strong sense of individualism.

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Find more superb shops


Heather B


Which store is that, in first photo at top of article on your 5 offline shops? ( Tokyo)

( the photo which includes striped dresses & white boots)

Coming to Tokyo in 2 weeks.

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