10 Popular Japanese Clothing Stores

Clothes shop Japan

The traditional Japanese clothing is known as kimono and the accessories that go with the kimono style. Japanese clothing has a long and rich history with a unique fashion style. Nowadays not many people wear a kimono on a daily basis, but in fact, there are many clothes for sale that can be worn casually in daily life. From the kawaii Harajuku girls style, to sophisticated (and sometimes expensive) Japanese designer clothes, there’s something for everyone in Japan. Check out popular Japanese fashion and trends before you visit Japan!

Shopping in Japan

Tokyo is one of the biggest fashion hubs worldwide and has definitely something to offer for everyone. Whether you are looking for cheap, functionable clothes, limited designer items or something super kawaii, Japan has got you covered. But before going on a shopping spree, let us explain a little bit about shopping in Japan and how it might differ from shopping at home.

The first thing you will notice, or maybe the second thing right after the style, is that the sizes are different, especially if you come from a Western country. Typically, Japanese clothing are smaller so pay attention to sleeves and trouser legs and the so-called ‘Asian fit’. When you hit the shops, staff generally follows you around, this is normal in Japan! Don’t get uncomfortable and feel free to ask them anything.

shopping

Next, when you want to try on clothes, be aware that it is super common to take off your shoes in the dressing rooms. Woman are also requested to cover their face with a white sheet to prevent makeup from ruining the clothes. When you are done, don’t leave clothes in the dressing room, this is considered super rude, but instead return them to the staff.

Lastly, always check the return and exchange policy of the stores. In Japan it is not common to be able to return your purchased goodies. When you are an overseas resident, also make sure to ask for the tax-free shopping options! As an international tourist you can save a great amount of money shopping tax-free.

Sale period in Japan

Japan has a reputation for being expensive, despite this fact there are some ways to save a few yen and shop for cheap(er).The best time to go shopping is either December and January, when most Japanese store have their winter sales on. The peak for summer sales in Japan is from late June to mid-July. Besides these two major sales moments, the first week of January (for holiday shopping and the famous lucky bags) and Golden Week (for spring sales) are typically also good times to shopping.

shopping

Types of Japanese fashion

Recently, two types of Japanese fashion types have been gaining popularity amongst both Japanese people as well as internationals, “プチプラファッション(Petit-pura fashion)”, and “セレクトショップ(Select shop)”. Let’s see what kind of stores they are.

1. プチプラファッション (Petit-pura fashion)

Nowadays, functional and stylishly designed clothes that you can purchase at reasonable prices are very popular in Japan. Stores that sell such clothes are called “プチプラファッション (petit-pura fashion)” in Japan. “プチ(Petit)” means “little” in French and “プラ(pura)” is an abbreviation of “price”. Petit-pura fashions have gained a huge following among Japanese students and families, regardless of their age. Not only they are inexpensive, but also sell clothes that can be worn in a variety of situations, from casual clothes for daily life and sports, to formal clothes for lunches and dinners.

2. セレクトショップ (Select shop)

There is another type of fashion stores called “セレクトショップ(select shop)” in Japan, which sell products from multiple brands in addition to their own brand. Select shops are basically scaled-down departments stores. Their prices are often higher than those of petit-pura fashion. But in the case of select stores, products of other brands are displayed in addition to its own brand. Their original purpose was to be a place where you would go to discover new brands and see them combined together in a refreshing way by people that understood and followed the trends. This was, of course, before magazines and internet made their entrance. The biggest appeal of select shops nowadays is that you can find products from a variety of brands and get inspired by the latest global fashion trends at one store.

3. Designer clothes

Japanese designers are known for their distinctive trends and minimalistic style. Recently, Tokyo has become one of the most fashion-forward cities with many local designers trying their luck. Tokyo Fashion Week is, unlike other big fashion weeks around the globe, known for their smaller labels exhibitors that can be quite expensive and exclusive.

10 popular clothing stores in Japan 

Not long ago, Japanese fashion was a well-kept secret, but that is not the case anymore. Popular Japanese fashions stores and brand are available worldwide, while others are exclusive to Japan. Let’s learn a bit about Japanese fashion stores and brands to shop in while you are Japan.

1. UNIQLO

The leader in petit-pura fashion store in Japan is UNIQLO. As of November 2020, UNIQLO had a total of 2,298 stores. Of these, 1,483 are located overseas, such as the United States, the United Kingdom, France, China, and Australia and etc. UNIQLO’s clothes are characterized by their low prices, ultimate simplicity of design, and high functionality. Kei Nishikori, a famous Japanese male professional tennis player, often wears UNIQLO clothes to his matches. Other Global Brand Ambassadors include Roger Federer, Ayumu Hirano and Gordon Reid.

UNIQLO’s standard product line includes are “AIRism” and “Heattech”. AIRism is a series of highly functional inner wear that uses ultra-fine fibers to absorb sweat, keeping you dry and comfortable especially in the hot summer. On the other hand, Heattech is a fashion series that uses fibers generating heat when they absorb sweat, making it perfect for the cold winter months. It is truly UNIQLO quality to be able to buy clothes filled with Japanese technology at a low price.

Uniqlo shopping tax free

2. GU

GU is a petit-pura brand launched in 2006 by the same company that operates UNIQLO, with the concept of “making fashion more free.” If UNIQLO is known for its high performance clothing, GU is known for its low-cost trendy fashion, and is popular mainly among the younger generation. When you want to buy the latest trendy fashion at a reasonable price, GU is your place to go.

Tokumeigakarinoaoshima, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

3. MUJI

MUJI, popular for its retort foods such as butter chicken curry all well as interior goods, has entered the world of Japanese fashion brands! MUJI offers a large selection of clothes with simple, natural designs that never get old and can be easily combined with other clothes. They also have focused on high-quality materials for their clothes, such as clothes made of organic cotton. If you like clothes in calm colors, MUJI is the best store for you.

Kim Ahlström, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

4. Shimamura

Shimamura, a petit-pura brand, has been gaining rapid popularity in Japan lately. They have over 1,300 stores nationwide. The brand is quite affordable and have been involved in many collaborations with various anime characters and celebrities, which has been attracting a lot of people, especially anime fans. This fashion brand is more localized than urban, and mostly targets families with children. For this reason, they have a large selection of children’s clothes and clothes that are easy to wear in daily life. 

5. WEGO

If you are interested in clothes about Harajuku fashion or Japanese street fashion, go to WEGO and get them at affordable price! WEGO is a popular fashion brand among students and young people, mainly in their teens and twenties. WEGO has 148 stores nationwide in Japan, including an online store, large stores, and small stores. Their fashions are full of original designs that can be coordinated in cool ways. If you are looking for a quick and easy way to try on Japanese youth fashion, check out this brand.

6. Beams

BEAMS is a fashion brand that offers imported and original products, and is said to be a pioneer of select stores. Therefore, you can find a variety of brands other than BEAMS. The store was started by Etsuzo Shitara with a single small shops in Harajuku called American Life Shop Beams. The clothes sold at beams represent a mix of  American looks from the 1960s and Japanese craftsmanship. The stylish interior of BEAMS stores is very appealing, and it is sure to get you in the mood for fashion shopping.

chinnian, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

7. United Arrows

United Arrows needs to be here if we talk about famous Japanese select store brands. The Japanese clothing brand was founded in 1989 and has since collaborated with popular international brands like New Balance, The North Face and Dr. Martens. The founding members of United Arrows were mostly former BEAMS employees who envisioned a store where you could not just buy clothes, but also ideas for a more stylish living. Their overall design is stylish and luxurious and quite popular among people of all ages, from the young to those in their late 40s. Their prices are higher than others, but the brand is perfect for a place that needs a little formal mood like parties and dates.

Wpcpey, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

8. Journal Standard

Journal Standard is another select store in Japan that sells a wide variety of products from Japan and abroad. It is a popular brand and their American casual design clothes have attracted Japanese teenagers, young adults in their twenties, and university students. Clothes available at Journal Standard are known for high-quality materials, are firm to wear and loose in design. They are beloved for their contemporary designs for everyday outings or days out with friends.

Journal Standard
Picture by Nokton / CC BY-NC 2.0

9. Honeys

Honeys is a petit-pura fashion brand that is popular among Japanese teens and women who like designs for adults. Honeys has collaborated with many anime characters such as Sanrio, Disney, Moomin, etc, so if you’re a collector of anime character goods, you should check it out. If you are having trouble coordinating your outfit with Honeys clothes, don’t worry. Just check out the professional coordination by the shop stylists at the official online store. They will give you some fashion tips.

10. nano universe

Known as a select store born in Shibuya, nano universe is a fashion brand that targets people in their teens to thirties. Their designs are generally cool, and recommended for those who want to wear fashion with a slightly formal atmosphere. They also sell a unique fashion series called “Anti-soaked”, which is specially processed to cut UV rays and reduce sweat stains, making it perfect for the hot summer months ahead.

Shibuya Crossing

Outlet Shopping in Japan

Outlet malls offer better deals and discounts throughout the year, which makes them an ideal shopping spot for everyone at any time. Some of the above mentioned shops are also located at the outlet shopping malls in and around Tokyo, but also nationwide. Here you can score your new Japanese wardrobe for a bargain! These outlet malls offer not only great shopping experiences but also a wide range of services and helpful facilities. Most of them have information desk services operated by multilingual staff, playgrounds for kids, free parking and much more!

We have listed 10 Japanese fashion brands, have you found your favorite one? Each brand has established its own targeting age group and has its own style. Some brands may have stores overseas, so check their official websites if you can shop these clothes at your country too. Depending on the time of the year, there may be sales of products in collaboration with characters or discount sales, so don’t miss out! Have fun shopping for Japanese fashion!

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Happy travelling!

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Mao Goto is a Japanese freelancer who was born in Hayama, Kanagawa prefecture, and raised in Tokyo. Since 2016 she lives in the Taito Ward, home to a lot of Japanese culture hotspots such as Asakusa, Akihabara, and Ueno. She has been interested in the field of English education of Japan and got her Master’s degree in March, 2020. A lover of photography, travel, sweets, and cross-stitch. Contact her via Facebook.

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