Tokyo is not only the center of the world’s largest metropolitan area, but it also has a reputation for being on the cutting edge of technology with its network of touch screen vending machines to high-tech toilets. Japan’s capital is also on the cutting edge of fashion. This is one of the first things that visitors notice during a visit to the fashion hubs of Shibuya, Harajuku, Midtown, and Ginza. Especially compared to other large metropolitan cities, it seems like everyone in Tokyo is dressed to impress! Thus, it may seem like it would be difficult to find cool vintage artifacts and clothing, but look no more! Tokyo has a wide selection of many avant-garde thrifts and vintage clothing stores packed with funky streetwear and high-fashion designer clothing.
While you can find hidden gems tucked into Tokyo’s narrow back ways and alleys, the three best places to visit when searching for cool vintage clothing are, without a doubt, in the hipster town of Shimokitazawa, among the trendy atmosphere of Shibuya, and along the streets of the fashion-designer hub of Harajuku. You are almost guaranteed to find just the right piece of clothing whenever you visit any of these unique areas in Tokyo, which are home to the stores with the largest selection of vintage clothing in the city, most of which was originally sourced from overseas. Although the following list is by no means comprehensive, below are my top 10 recommendations as to where to find stylish vintage clothing and accessories in Tokyo.
Located in the backstreets of Harajuku, Ripple is a little difficult to find. This store is relatively unknown, but Ripple is not to be missed on any quest to track down high-quality vintage items in Tokyo. Despite their relatively low profile, Ripple features a wide variety. It seems to specialize in a lot of bold yet cool garments from big-name brands such as Polo Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger. If you are looking for an experience where you may find yourself all alone in the store to be able to enjoy the shopping experience in relative solitude, then this is the place to go. See URL (https://www.instagram.com/junkdealerripple/).
Although it is the most difficult to find and is the smallest shop on the list, Blueworkerz is a store with style. This secluded specialty shop in Shibuya is still somewhat of a secret but offers a cool shopping experience. It is, in fact, more like walking through a large closet than a visit to a proper storefront. Blueworkerz specializes in old-school skater streetwear as well as some colorful hipster pieces. It is especially recommended for those who seek vintage skater streetwear, but anyone who wants to experience Tokyo’s funk fashion scene would enjoy a trip to Blueworkerz. See URL (https://www.instagram.com/blueworkerz/?hl=en).
3. One W Oh
If you are a fan of cartoon-themed streetwear pieces, then this is the place for you. One W Oh in Harajuku has loads of cool, colorful vintage pieces featuring your favorite cartoon and anime characters such as the Powderpuff Girls, Betty Betty Boop, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. One W Oh stocks what is perhaps the world’s largest inventory of unique jackets featuring these characters. If you want a one-of-a-kind fashion accessory that screams “Tokyo,” then One W Oh is the place to visit. See URL (https://www.instagram.com/one_w_oh/).
While Kinji does not offer particularly trendy pieces, it certainly delivers the most bang for your buck. Kinji is a well-known, stand-alone vintage clothing warehouse located in Harajuku. You will get your money’s worth here, considering the wide selection along with reasonable pricing. Kinji’s stock frequently turns over, and its extensive inventory is categorized by both types of clothing as well as by color. Thus, Kinji makes the shopping experience for its customers very easy, which earns it the title of the go-to vintage clothing store in Tokyo. See URL (http://www.kinji.jp/).
Unlike Kinji, Chicago is a chain of vintage clothing stores located throughout Tokyo. Much like Kinji, they have a large collection of cheaper garments. Chicago is the right place to visit if you are just looking for cheap and trendy pieces that are more geared towards the streetwear side of fashion. Chicago is one of the best stores to visit if you are looking for denim. Whether you want high-waisted, darker-washed, or over-sized jeans, Chicago has one of the largest collections of pre-worn denim clothing, compared to the other suggested stores. Chicago has branches in Shimokitazawa and Harajuku. See URL (https://www.chicago.co.jp/).
This high-profile chain of American style vintage clothing is one of the most prominent in the thrift/vintage scene. They have an extensive collection of both brand new streetwear clothing and pieces ranging back all the way to the 60s and 70s. Flamingo stores are located throughout Tokyo, including in both Shimokitazawa and Harajuku. If you don’t find quite what you are looking for in Chicago, then I suggest visiting Flamingo. Both stores are located right next to each other in Harajuku, which will help to make your search more efficient.
7. Brand Collect
Specializing in expensive streetwear, Brand Collect is the perfect place to visit if you are a Hypebeast. They have a large collection of high-end streetwear brands such as Bathing Ape, Supreme, and Off-White. Especially compared to the other suggestions, the merchandise at Brand Collect is priced at a premium. At the very least it is good for window shopping. Located in the backstreets of Harajuku, this store is slightly smaller than the others but has a lot of hard-to-find pieces from major name brands. If money is no object and you desire truly unique cool clothes, then Brand Collect is definitely worth a visit. See URL (https://brandcollect.com/).
8. 2nd Street
Located all across Japan, 2nd Street is a rather new yet fast-growing vintage chain. 2nd Street literally has it all. Their stores are divided into different categories of fashion, including high-end designer brands, streetwear brands, and just simply used clothing. They do an outstanding job of promoting clothes that might have been used already, but maybe just once. All of their pieces look pretty much brand new and are sold at significant discounts off of the original list price. It is sometimes hard to believe that most of the merchandise is either pre-worn or overstocked. Almost anyone would be able to find something that they like on 2nd Street. You will not be disappointed, and there is a branch in Shibuya. See URL (https://www.2ndstreet.jp/).
9. Don Don Down on Wednesday
One of the more entertaining stores to go and visit on the list, Don Don Down on Wednesday, is located in the center of Shibuya and offers tons of cool steals. The store organizes its merchandise in sections that are identified by a particular vegetable, which, in turn, corresponds to the price range. Thus, depending upon which vegetable appears nearby, you can tell at a glance how much the clothing in a particular aisle should cost. There are price scales located throughout the store, and the pricing starts from as low as 500 Japanese yen. Don Don Down on Wednesday has multiple floors that are dedicated to specific categories of fashion similar to the layout of 2nd Street. See URL (http://www.dondondown.com/).
10. Hard Off
Different from the rest, this chain is very similar to an American thrift store such as Goodwill or the Salvation Army. Hard Off is one of the largest chains of recycled items in the country. They focus on the three main categories of clothing, books and magazines, and electronics. The clothing tier of this chain does not always have trendy clothing, but there is a huge selection, and every once and a while, it is possible to come across a real find. The guarantee is, however, that the pricing will be very reasonable.
Hard Off is a good place to visit if you are just looking for recycled, cheaper clothes rather than particularly trendy pieces. I have had plenty of success searching through their aisles. Although the only Hard Off in Shimokitazawa only features electronics, you can find clothing at their branch in Gotanda, which is only a few train stops from Shibuya on the Yamanote Line. See URL (https://www.hardoff.co.jp/en/).
Overall, Tokyo is the vintage clothing and streetwear capital of the East. If you are searching for a one-of-a-kind piece of clothing, any of the stores on this top ten list would be of interest. There is no doubt that they would provide a unique shopping experience that you can only find in Tokyo. Most of the items coming from famous brands will cost roughly between ¥3000-5000 and you can even find traditional Japanese kimono and patterns.
Born in Chicago, Ty is a mixed heritage Japanese and American freelance writer who grew up and spent his teen years in Tokyo. When not on the soccer pitch as a center-mid, Ty enjoys going thrift shopping in the backstreets of Tokyo and going out with his friends in the bustling hub of Shibuya.