Japan does many things exceptionally well. Its cleanliness, trains, masterful cooking and hospitality is top tier. Fashion and retail is no exception. The high-rise cities with humongous storefronts and department stores big enough to get lost in for days are counterbalanced by quiet, calm shopping districts, where the fabulous and the stylish can be found socializing in stores that double as local hangouts.
Tokyo and Osaka are currently leading the global trend for experiential retail, personalization, and pushing above and beyond selling fast turnaround products.
I want to explore some of the retail and visual merchandising highlights:
One of the destinations on the top of my list was The Park.ing Ginza, a concept store found in the basement car park of the Sony building in Ginza, a luxury shopping district of Tokyo. Limited-edition streetwear and lifestyle products are found in industrial cages, next to vintage pop-up - Once in a Lifetime, and displays featuring brands such as Nike, RetaW and Denim By. After paying at a counter that would usually be the car park attendant’s office, the exit leads through a second level, home to a record store by Bonjour Records and an eatery by Cafe de Rope.
For Tokyo’s active community, there is no shortage of active clubs and community-driven events offered by brands and retailers. High-end concept store En Route displays a chalk-drawn map of Tokyo and polaroid shots of the running club in action to display the week’s events. Across the road, an especially intimate Arc’teryx store partners with Bicycle Coffee to offer one of the best local coffee outlets and promotional offers for Tokyo’s growing outdoor sports community. Nohara by Mizuno is notable too, with a door on the street that could easily be missed, leading upstairs to a multi-use store featuring activewear, running station, yoga studio and cafe.
On the high street, global brands looking to connect with customers on a local level feature Japan-specific product ranges. Stand outs include Uniqlo’s UT range of graphic tees designed by Japanese artists, patched denim from Zara, Adidas graphics and ladies performance wear from Lululemon. The slogan ‘Sweat now, Tapanyaki later,’ references the fried octopus snack famous to Osaka.
From tranquil outdoor shopping malls to busy lifestyle pop-ups and customizable ranges for all ages and markets, Japan is an ever-evolving creative hub for retail and design inspiration. What seems to be successful is the flexibility and innovation seen in the retail spaces themselves, while community-driven events and collaborations initiate a high level of engagement with locals and tourists alike.
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About Amy Lee, Trends and Insights Specialist, Avery Dennison RBIS
Based in London, Amy is often found at the most influential arts and fashion events, trade shows and store launches. A Northern girl from Cheshire, England, she has been known to take her own Yorkshire tea bags around the world with her!
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