Upon your first venture into Harajuku, you’ll be wowed by the crowds, the smell of sweet dessert crepes wafting through the air, and we can promise that you’ll just want to stand at the side and watch all the people go by, as it’s certain you’ll see some of the coolest outfits in the world.
Harajuku is anchored by Takeshita Street which is the main thoroughfare. It’s forbidden for cars to drive here, so it’s really a walker’s paradise. This narrow area becomes really busy, particularly on weekends, and the streetsides are lined with all manner of interesting shops, restaurants, and cafes to try.
Not very far from the entrance to Takeshita Street is LaForet, a multistory building with hundreds of trend-defining boutiques that are such a joy to explore. This Harajuku mainstay has seen all manner of stylish brands come and go throughout the years, but as time goes on the ethos and energy remains the same. It’s one place you can’t miss on your next visit to Tokyo. Young hopeful designers dream of scoring a boutique space in this complex, as it’s a sure bet that they can make a name for themselves and their brand there.
An entire encyclopedia about Harajuku style could be written just with entries about all the shops and boutiques alone that have been or are currently thriving in this neighborhood. Today though, let’s take a look at a few fashion brands from this mecca of creativity that are a good starting point into the endless variety of this awesome area.
This brand is unique in that it has somewhat of a cult following overseas due to the success of Japanese comedy film ‘Kamikaze Girls’ from 2002. With its quirky, Lolita-fashion loving main character Momoko who treats the store as if it’s Heaven on Earth, always saving up to visit the shop as often as possible away from her countryside home.
Likely the defining brand for Lolita-fashion enthusiasts, expect lots of lace, ribbons, frilly bows, and pinks & pastels at this store!
When it comes to accessories, Q-Pot is the place to look. Their specialty is taking all sorts of lovable and cute motifs like teddy bears, cupcakes, food, even Disney characters, and transforming them into eye-catching jewelry. Always colorful and crafted with precision, this brand is always working on something new to delight the eyes!
A newer brand with a large following of young twenty-somethings, Swankiss focuses on apparel that is light, airy, always girly, and never short on elegance. One of their strong points is that their clothing lends itself well to just about any situation or social gathering. They are also very seasonally attuned and are sure to have just what you need for the upcoming season, like the cutest scarves & mittens at the beginning of winter, for instance. Expect lots of versatile, natural color tones from Swankiss.
Somewhat of an outlier on this list, WEGO is a newer chain brand, albeit a relatively small chain, within Japan with a big presence in Harajuku. Their flagship store has all sorts of accessories, apparel, shoes, even vintage clothing on sale, for both women and men. Made popular by super affordable prices and comfortable street styles somewhat reminiscent of Korean street fashion, this brand truly has something in store for everyone. It’s a great spot to buy the basics and mix and match with some of the clothes that you already have to breathe new life into some of your outfits.
This is just the very tip of the iceberg, and there are hundreds upon hundreds of shops within Harajuku that cater to those who want only the newest and the most original. Be sure to schedule plenty of time for shopping during your next visit to Japan!
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