Levi’s Vintage Clothing Tokyo | A Continuous Lean.

Levi’s Vintage Clothing Tokyo

Nov 23rd, 2010 | Categories: Denim, Japan, Shopping, Tokyo | by Michael Williams

Tucked away in an alley in Tokyo’s Aoyama neighborhood (a very fashionable part of town I might add) is the newish Levi’s Vintage Clothing store — one of the few places in the world that you can get all eight archival variations of the Levi’s 501 and a huge selection of the other normally reclusive LVC goods. This Levi’s Vintage Clothing store in Tokyo closely resembles the Cinch store I checked out in London this past spring, though the store in Japan is much much bigger. It has been a little more than a year since Maurizio Donadi was brought in to help reorganize the Levi’s premium business and these new LVC retail outposts are a clear reflection of Maurizio’s vision. Before Donadi was in the picture, LVC was sort of stuck in limbo between the Levi’s labyrinth of different offerings and retail stores. These days the collection is much more accessible (in terms of consumers being able to find the product), but the goods still carry a significant price tag. Though, I should say it is an understandable price structure given all that goes into the development and production (made in USA, etc) of the product.


The Levi’s Vintage Clothing store in Tokyo is simple and cool. It feels homey and isn’t trying to hard. It is sort of if Levi’s is saying: “Here’s our stuff, we hope you like it. We take this very seriously, but we aren’t too serious.” The shop incorporates artificially distressed materials, but it doesn’t seem contrived. Not to me anyway. The shop just sets the stage for the product — the real star of the show. When my friend and I visited the store we  were fortunate to meet up with Yosuke Otsubo, the head of XX (the division that includes all of the Levi’s premium collections) in Japan, and he spoke to us about the space and what the product means to people in Japan. Yosuke couldn’t have been more welcoming and he insisted on taking us to his favorite Yakitori place in Harajuku, which gave us all a chance to talk more about denim and retail and of course talk all about Tokyo. Between Maurizio Donadi and Yosuke I don’t think I have ever met two more intelligent or kind people in my life. At the end of the day, I want to buy good things from good people — that’s my personal mission. With LVC, it’s pretty much mission accomplished.

Levi’s Vintage Clothing | 5-5-4 Minami Aoyama, Minato-Ku | +81 3 6419 1699

Comments: 21

21 Comments to “Levi’s Vintage Clothing Tokyo”

  1. One Backpack
    on Nov 23rd, 2010
    @ 2:35 PM

    Absolutely beautiful. I’ve always been a huge Levi’s and LVC fan. The heritage and the product…well I’m not gonna write about it here:) But it’s good to see them going in this direction. It has been sometimes frustrating watching their clothing and branding turn more and more into “cheap” department store goods (in the US especially). For some reason, their US marketing failed to do what it did overseas…and when you think about who they are and what they’ve done, it’s sad. You leave the US and people get it…they’re Levi’s crazy; they’re the “it” brand to a lot of people (and not that that’s necissarily the goal, but you know what I mean.)
    Anyway, it’s nice to see them going in this direction.
    Great job Levi’s. Good luck.

  2. Max
    on Nov 23rd, 2010
    @ 2:53 PM

    What a Vintage store should look like & sell. Just great LVC..!

  3. Sweetdeal
    on Nov 23rd, 2010
    @ 3:15 PM

    There used to be a little corner of the store in SFO that was like this. Bought my first pair of LVC there in 2003 and I was hooked but had to buy overseas and on eBay to satisfy my thirst. It is too bad you still need to leave the country for LVC although I did see some of the collection at Union Made in SFO when I was there last month. Nice job Maurizio! Black Blu in Saint Paul would be a good start in the Midwest for LVC.

  4. mpr
    on Nov 23rd, 2010
    @ 3:24 PM

    One Backpack, Don’t you think that they are the “it” brand, the world over, for precisely the reason you bemoan, specifically that their products are accessible in department stores and to regular American people, not those obsessed with vintage this, heritage that and nothing comes between me and my selvedge. They seem to me more like Coca-Cola, Chevrolet, McDonalds and Budweiser not some high-end luxury product appealing to a “connoisseur class.”

  5. One Backpack
    on Nov 23rd, 2010
    @ 4:08 PM

    I know what you’re saying, but no I don’t agree. It wasn’t that long ago that I was in school, and at least in my experience, Levi’s was the brand that your dad wore, but not what you wanted to wear. It’s accessible yes. But it’s not a brand that most younger people want to open up on Christmas morning (unless they’re vintage lovers and grasp what Levi’s is). You can become too accessible and loose your appeal (Kind of like when an authentic surf brand sells out and starts being distributed by target or Wal-Mart.)
    I’m not in the connoisseur class. I’ll probably never own a pair of LVC’s. So I’m not driving for Levi’s to be soley high-end stuff. But from going from being the founders of the industry and cult icons, to where they are now in the minds of young Americans…it’s sad. It’s good to be accessible, but it’s probably not the goal of their company to be the jeans that kids want to exchange after Christmas cause their “lame parents got the wrong brand.”
    I’m not saying that that’s exactly where they stand today either. I’ve seen a huge “Levi’s comeback” over the past few years. It’s exciting, and I’m happy for them. I meant my post overall in a more positive sense, like, “Right on, things hadn’t been too good in the 90′s and early 2000′s…but it’s turning around!”
    I guess it’s a balance, because I definitely understand where you’re coming from as well.

  6. Charles
    on Nov 23rd, 2010
    @ 4:21 PM

    I just wish they would have a LVC store in NYC.

  7. Mike S
    on Nov 23rd, 2010
    @ 5:06 PM

    Awesome store. I really have to go to Japan, not just for the food, but for the denim culture and for the LVC store.
    #Charles, there might not be a LVC store in New York, but you should check out the Levi’s concept store in the Meatpacking District on 14th Street. They have all the LVC replica’s, all the way to 1969(?) maybe 1980. It’s a really cool store. I recently bought a pair of the Limited Edition 505′s x Cone Mills Denim jean and a Levi’s x Filson denim shooting shirt. There’s even a denim historian in house by the name of Robert Nuovo. He’s also a really cool guy. He knows his denim. Go check it out.

  8. robbie
    on Nov 23rd, 2010
    @ 5:58 PM

    I really like the store, the salesman’s samples are great. I wonder if any of them are true vintage, or if they were made store specific?

    Also, the bolts of fabric? I assume they are for show, and this store isn’t producing items like some of the other stores right?

  9. Emma Howard
    on Nov 23rd, 2010
    @ 6:50 PM

    The Japanese bought 1960s looms from Americans ! Americans love Japanese denim,woven on our old looms. I truly respect their indigo dye techniques.

  10. BlueGoldBlues
    on Nov 23rd, 2010
    @ 9:25 PM

    Michael, BIG BIG REQUEST…

    Please investigate and report on Marvins while you are in Tokyo.

    They seem to have exquisite vintage denim wear.

    http://www.marvins-jp.com/

  11. unitedstyle
    on Nov 24th, 2010
    @ 1:20 AM

    Beautiful store. I’ve always loved Levi’s. I could care less what the “kids” think is cool. Hell, Ed Hardy was “cool” a few years ago.

  12. David
    on Nov 24th, 2010
    @ 2:38 AM

    Why doesn’t Levi’s have stores like this in the USA?

  13. Halberstram
    on Nov 24th, 2010
    @ 3:32 PM

    you all are dissecting the purchase of a pair of jeans. take a nap.

    happy thanksgiving all.

  14. chris
    on Nov 24th, 2010
    @ 6:02 PM

    ^ thats the point though. Most Americans don’t put much consideration into their clothing purchases, let alone a lowly “pair of jeans”. You can either follow the trend and buy what’s currently cool, or you can put some thought into what you buy and wear. (I suppose you could also remain totally oblivious as well). There’s nothing wrong with having discussion about denim. Yeah, it used to be work wear for the working class… but, it has evolved. People don’t just wear it on the job anymore. They care how it looks, feels, and fits.

    …and they should.

  15. SAW
    on Nov 24th, 2010
    @ 7:08 PM

    This is fantastic. I just wish it was actually in the States…

  16. maurizio
    on Nov 24th, 2010
    @ 7:52 PM

    …. and to all of you that would like a store like this in the US? ……. i do too.
    Michael, thank you for your kind words.
    I do have a very special team working with me on this project.

  17. frank pepe
    on Nov 24th, 2010
    @ 9:41 PM

    fyi all they sell a good selection of LVC at the levis store in the nyc meatpacking district

  18. patrick
    on Nov 25th, 2010
    @ 11:40 AM

    well ! enough about NY what about a store in SF where it belongs or a least a little section in the store!? i still can’t believe that the SF store doesn’t carry the LVC line .it’s packed with european tourists and denim heads asking for it and nobody can give them an answer.why ,when and where ……can they get their denim fix …….sad

  19. The Shophound
    on Nov 25th, 2010
    @ 1:17 PM

    Aside from the Levi’s Premium Shop in the Meatpacking District in NYC, I understand there’s another one in Malibu as well. Sorry for everyone in the flyover states, but if the U.S. stores, which are very new, do well, they will probably open a few more. Have patience. For the record, the 14th Street store also carries all 8 archival variations of the 501, plus they have an in-house tailor who will actually custom make a pair of jeans to your exact specifications. It ain’t cheap by a long shot, but tell me where else you can have a pair of custom Levi’s made?
    For what it’s worth, it looks like the folks at Levi’s have gotten a clue or two and have been revamping their entire product line, not just LVC, to reflect a global image (goodbye SilverTab) which is good for us in the U.S.. Even the regular red-tab mass produced lines are looking quite respectable these days.

  20. Sheshank Reddy S
    on Nov 29th, 2010
    @ 10:40 AM

    Levi’s has been selling LVC’s in India for a few years now, imported from Tokyo / Belgium.

    I’ve seen travelers from SF to Mumbai surprised to see the range available here.

  21. denimgeek
    on Dec 6th, 2010
    @ 11:47 PM

    Levis in SF started officially selling LVC today!!!Theres also the castro store that carriea them. Get em, still pricey though