In the first installment of our guide to vintage shopping in Tokyo, we presented you our favorite shops in Koenji, probably the best area for vintage menswear in Japan with a wide offer of styles and price points. For the second chapter of our guide, we’re going to cover a place that everyone familiar with Japan has probably heard of: Harajuku.
Harajuku is where you’ll find the most exotic people and stores on the planet, and unless you go with someone that knows the area, you’ll probably walk by killer stores without even realizing it. To prevent that, we’ve gathered our favorite Harajuku vintage shops in this guide. Please keep in mind that we’ve picked only a few stores amongst the huge variety of gems in Harajuku, so do go there and see for yourself!
The most common way to come to Harajuku is via the famous Japan Railways (usually called “JR”) Yamanote Line, which is a big circle going through the main neighborhoods that make Tokyo the amazing city that it is. Tip: it’s the green line on the maps. When you get to the Harajuku station, take the Omotesando exit and go down the hill to the big crossing with the Condomania store on your right.
Alternatively, if you come via subway, you can get on the Chiyoda Line, or the Fukutoshin Line, both stopping at Meijijingumae, which is actually more practical than the Yamanote Line’s Harajuku Station because it will let you go out directly at the Harajuku crossing.
The Real McCoy’s
Shibuya-ku Jingumae 6-25-8 +81 3-6427-4300 Website
Most denimheads around the world are familiar with Japanese replica brand The Real McCoy’s. It may not be a vintage shop, but still, the brand is so heavily vintage inspired and the store is so mind blowing that we thought it would be a shame not to feature it in this guide.
Shibuya-ku Jingumae 6-12-15 +81 3-5466-2390 Website
Some of you are probably familiar with Marvin’s Vintage from our interview of its founder. Marvin’s Vintage is easily one of the top vintage stores in Tokyo. Founder Kazuhiko Hanzawa opened the shop in 1991 after working for a more mass market vintage chain called Chicago. The store carries high quality vintage work wear, military clothing, jeans up to a century old, and more.
Shibuya-ku Jingumae 3-26-11, Harajuku SH Building +81 3-3401-4666 Website
Berberjin is located in Harajuku Street, which is parallel to Meiji street and perpendicular to Takeshita street. The place has a widely known name and has been featured countless times in the best Japanese menswear magazines. As opposed to some very specialized shops, Berberjin offers a wider gamut of price points, which you will see in the first section of the store right when you get inside.
Things get serious when you go to the section at the back of the shop. There’s a whole corner dedicated to vintage military jackets and workwear, with for example some classic G-1 and B-10 flight jacket and some rarer WWI pea coats or dead stock ’40s chambray shirts.
Right next to this corner is a staircase that’ll bring you to Berberjin’s denim section, and that’s where your mind will be blown. Expect to find any jean you can think of all they way back to the nineteenth century.
Shibuya-ku Jingumae 2-31-3 1F, Harajuku SH Building +81 3-6439-1969 Website
Like The Real McCoys, Desolation Row is not a vintage store, however it is 100% vintage inspired. As far as the repro is concerned, Desolation Row has more variety in terms of themes and eras as they cover a larger portion of history: from the beginning of the twentieth century to the ’70s. So you’re in for flight jackets, biker jackets, hunting clothing, sportswear, boots, denim, etc.
It’s probably one of the few brands that proposes replica clothing of the very first flight/biker jackets (at that time pilots didn’t have anything else to wear).
Shibuya-ku Jingumae 1-8-21, La Reine 2F +81 3-3404-0168 Website
Dead stock lovers, this one is for you. Fake Alpha is in a rather counter-intuitive location as it is located behind the Takeshita street, which is basically a street for kids only. Still, the journey is truly rewarding, as what you will see will most certainly blow your mind.
Among their selection of more affordable vintage jeans, souvenir jackets, flight jackets and what not, Fake Alpha has a huge wall of almost all eras of Levi’s 501s in dead stock condition. Yes, you’re not hallucinating–dead stock. Need we say more?
All photos by Yuri Matsuoka.