While there are a number of original Japanese clothing brands in Japan ranging from inexpensive and simple to costly and trendy, many Japanese favor famed American and European brands including Banana Republic, Chanel, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Ralph Lauren, and a variety of others. As the Western brands on offer here are naturally imported, shoppers should expect to pay a premium for the latest fashion, and because of this, many expats interested in top-line brands opt to save their shopping for home leave. Equally important, and particularly for men, as Japanese often have smaller builds than foreigners, finding adequate sizing in Japan can be a nightmare. With that being said, there are a number of clothing stores of note:
ABC Mart (http://www.abc-mart.com/index.html) is one of the largest discount shoe store chains in Tokyo. With branches across the city, a variety of casual, sports, and dress shoes from a number of well known brands can be purchased at favorable rates. Many of the large department store chains sell shoes as well, including Isetan (http://www.isetan.co.jp), Mitsukoshi (http://www.mitsukoshi.co.jp), and Takashimaya (http://www.takashimaya.co.jp). The department stores also carry some high-end shoe brands, but it’s important to keep in mind that as leather is a protected industry in Japan, the duties paid on leather goods can amount to your shelling out twice as much for a purchase as you would in your home country.
Trendy Japanese clothing company A Bathing Ape (http://www.bape.com/) has stores across Japan and around the world. BAPE focuses its attention on “street wear”, but the company has diversified into other areas as well. Due to interest in BAPE within Japanese (and international) pop culture, shoppers should expect to pay a premium for purchasing BAPE products (some collared shirts sell for over US$150 per shirt, for example).
Muji (http://www.muji.com/) is another popular clothing and accessories brand, particularly given the prolonged global recession as Muji’s products are infamous for being very affordable. While Muji is not exclusively a clothing retailer, they sell a variety of under garments, outer wear, skirts, pants, and other articles.
Tomorrowland (http://www.tomorrowland.jp/) is a very trendy retailer which operates several stores in Tokyo, and offers high-quality garments for both men and women.
Uniqlo (http://www.uniqlo.com/jp/), like Muji, not only sells clothes that seemingly everyone loves–it is very inexpensive. With stores around the world, and more than 700 just in Japan, Uniqlo has sometimes been referred to as the Japanese Gap.
Tailoring is uncommon in Japan and thus the majority of expats seeking tailoring do so in their home countries, in regional countries known for discount, yet quality tailoring, (Hong Kong, Thailand, and elsewhere), or rely on visiting tailors (often from Hong Kong). One such tailor is Vijay Wadhwani from Noble House (http://noblesuit.com/). Wadhwani travels to Tokyo regularly and sizes clients in his hotel room before e-mailing orders back to Hong Kong for processing and shipment. With that being said, there are a few well-known domestic tailors operating in Tokyo including Smiley Tailor (Smiley Building, 7-4-1 Roppongi, Tel: 03-3408-5141), and Tailor Iwanaga (6-1-6 Minami-Aoyama, Tel: 03-3400-5540).