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.
There’s no denying that I have a love of hyperbole, but J’Antiques in Tokyo is definitely one the of the top vintage stores in the world if not the greatest. Just look at the photos — no exxageration needed. This past summer I met the owners (and took their photos) at Brimfield and later when I was making my travel plans to Tokyo I knew I had to make the trip over to Nakameguro to see the store. Needless to say, It was worth the trip. I even lucked out that co-owner Hitoshi Uchida (the gent pictured below) was around to chat and he was kind enough to let me take photos of the store.
Looks like the folks at the Ace Hotel are taking their material collaborations East, all the way East to Tokyo. The burgeoning Pacific Northwest hotel group opened a holiday pop up shop late last week on the 5th floor of the Shinjuku Isetan. If you have ever been to that Isetan store you will know, that baby is a monster with a pretty amazing variety of some of the best the world has to offer. The Ace shop looks great and I’m sure will be a big hit with the Japanese.
It seems that it is easier to find cool American stuff in Japan than in the U.S. Nanamica — one of my favorite stores in Tokyo — only seemed to reinforce that belief. The company holds the Japanese license for Filson, Champion, The North Face and other American brands. Nanamica also designs and produces the Japan-only The North Face Purple Label collection. You can’t physically pick up the any of the Purple Label goods in a store without 1. falling in love and 2. having the salesperson point out that the range is only for the Japanese market. I always wanted to politely respond to the sales associates that I could tell that collection was specifically designed for Japan because it wasn’t fucking ugly like in America.
I picked up this trench by The North Face. Perfect for the rainy chilly weather in New York.
One of my missions in Japan was to check of the Asian capital’s popular bicycle scene. The city is very bicycle friendly compared, obviously, to most cities in the U.S. What was most interesting to me is the fact that while people in Tokyo lock up their bikes (most of the time), the locks are pretty simple. Not like the insane measures NYers have to go through. As I wandered the expansive metropolis, I would see all types of people riding bicycles — many in their work clothes, women frequently in heels and lots of track bikes.
One would think that as a New Yorker I should be used to walking. This morning I awoke to the scream of my blistered feet, begging for mercy. Yesterday was another trip into the seemingly never ending Tokyo shopping labyrinth. I took things slower, explored more carefully and found some of the previously elusive spots. The streets are mostly unmarked, and initially, fairly difficult to navigate to a new comer. The highlight of the day was the breathtaking Zaha Hadid designed Neil Barrett store. I have been a huge fan of Mr. Barrett for sometime, ever since I found my favorite sweater coat years ago. My other favorite was the Beams+ hunting lodge / store in Shibuya. Can they open a store in New York? I would shop there everyday.
Beams+ in Shibuya