Login:
Password:

 

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Japanese Select Shops

Edited retail spaces
01 December 2007
Introduction
An introduction to the seven major "select shop" chains in Japan
Although "select shop" is now in common parlance around the world, it was originally the Japanese term for boutiques that carry a wide selection of fashionable products from different brands. Before the Japanese fashion market's huge expansion in the late 1980s, select shops were often consumers' only access to up-and-coming brands from the United States and Europe. Select shops are often seen as the retail analog to fashion magazines — with products chosen through expert "editing" from concerned and sophisticated buyers. Now transformed into market-leading national chains, the main select shops like Beams and United Arrows have solidified their place as central shopping locations for fashion conscious Japanese in all corners of Japan. They have even attained "brand" status — especially for men. In a recent poll of male fashion brand favorites, Beams ranked in at #3, followed by United Arrows at #4, Ships at #6, Tomorrowland at #21, Journal Standard at #25, and Nano Universe at #29.

When Japanese fashion broke out of the "one-designer" mold in the late '80s, select shops became the most critical institution in the market. Not only did these stores lead youth consumers towards the newest import brands, they emphasized an idea of "brand mix" in the wardrobe. Ironically, a majority of the major select shops' stock has now become original store-brand products, making the retail environment only marginally different from large-scale retailers such as Banana Republic or Uniqlo. Furthermore, select shops have taken the last few decades to expand out of casual American youth apparel and cover a massive scope of styles and price ranges. United Arrows, for example, carries fashionable and affordable madras suits at District on Cat Street, order-made serious business attire for men in their 50s at The Sovereign House, and Thom Browne one-offs for ¥1,000,000 at the flagship United Arrows in Harajuku.

Despite the current predominance of original product, select shops still highlight their collection of top-notch imported and domestic brands in promotional materials. These products then play a large role in legitimizing the store brands. For example, most Beams locations primarily offer reasonably-priced khaki trousers and T-shirts, but the free catalogs style models in Band of Outsiders ¥300,000 blazers only sold at the International Gallery in Harajuku. Sometimes store-brand copies of these upscale items are found sitting right next to the original, but regardless of the ethics of this technique, Japanese select shops still have a huge effect on fostering young fashion brands worldwide. Beams and United Arrows usually place the largest orders for new and independent boutique brands and then provide promotion for the brands within select shop catalogs and magazine features to secure them a foothold into the Japanese market.

At this point, most select shops' emphasis on a stable selection of classic styles makes the companies blur together to a certain degree; and looking at user demographics, there are only slight differences between each store's core consumers. This tutorial profiles the seven main select shop companies and highlights their history, market position, and distinguishing characteristics.
< Previous Page
1 of 6