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Tokyo Fashion Neighborhoods

31 October 2007
Introduction
An introduction to the main shopping districts for fashion in Japan's capital city
Tokyo is a sprawling megalopolis, home to almost 12.5 million people. What makes the city manageable, however, is the congregation of like-minded business enterprises into distinct neighborhood units. If you want vintage instruments you go to Ochanomizu, and if you want used books you go to Jimbocho.

For fashion, things are equally clear-cut, which means the neighborhood of location is critical for seating brands into the appropriate taste/consumer segment. So for those unfamiliar with the nuances of the city, we have created a basic guide to the major Tokyo fashion shopping neighborhoods.

View the slideshow for more pictures of Tokyo.

Shibuya
General feel: Low-culture fashion and fun  
Key retail stores/buildings: Shibuya 109, Seibu, PARCO, Beams, Marui, Tokyu
Age of core shoppers: from high school kids to late 20s

Summary:

Shibuya is a convenient commuter hub for those living in West Tokyo or Yokohama. Although populated by a diverse mass at night, the neighborhood's fashion vibe has become distinctly low rent due to the gyaru and gyaru-o/oniikei elements that hang out near the station and shop at Shibuya 109 (see our Fashion Building tutorial). Between these groups' constant squatting in front of fast food joints, a large number of drunken revelers, dance clubs, love hotels, and poor sewage, Shibuya often feels (and smells) a bit on the grimy side.

Up until the 1990s, Shibuya was always the center of serious fashion shopping thanks to dueling department stores Seibu and Tokyu. While both insitutions have lost their steam in recent years compared to the retail giants in Ginza and Shinjuku, Seibu and its youth fashion building PARCO still make the neighborhood a home to serious fashion shopping. Above PARCO on Park Street (Koen-doori) is a large area leading to Harajuku that acts as a central spot for select shops such as Ships and Beams.

Meiji-doori behind the station leads to Harajuku and is home to standalone stores like Paul Smith, Hysteric Glamour, and Levi's. Running parallel is Cat Street — a quieter pedestrian walkway surrounded by an eclectic mix of stores from Burberry Black Label to United Arrows' District to Adidas to Patagonia.
  
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