Left to right: Anatomica in Nihonbashi; Beams Men Shibuya; Auralee at Beams Men

ASIDE FROM OBVIOUS reasons to visit Tokyo – it’s a foodie’s happy place, an international nexus for art and architecture, a destination where modernity and tradition coexist – the city is also a menswear mecca. This comes as no surprise to some: the scope and scale of subcultures in the Japanese capital has made it a globally influential street fashion landscape. Similar to, say, the arrondissements of Paris or the boroughs of New York, each of Tokyo’s 23 wards have their own enclaves of style and personality where discovery lies just around every corner. Japan, after all, is a country with more than 50 men’s style magazines (this title included).

In preparing for this trip, and where I would shop, I looked to where menswear discourse lives: online. Reddit threads (perhaps a little too bro-y for my taste at times) and menswear TikTok replaced my paperback guide book, and fortunately, I had friends on the ground to give me their insider haunts. Wandering around, to find stores on your own organically, doesn’t hurt either. I found some gems when strolling around with no destination in mind.

But what was I trying to gain from this trip, sartorially? Other than making the most out of the currently weak yen, of course. As menswear figures out what to do with itself, and we talk about how to find your personal style with the optimistic tone of a wellness kick, the two weeks I spent in Tokyo proved a detox of sorts from this prescriptive way of thinking. And no wonder. For decades, Western designers and brands have been looking to Japan for new ways of making high-quality and artisanal fabrics and garments as novelty trends are growing tired. Japanese denim, for example, is the envy of the world. If you’re looking to find yourself through style, Tokyo might be the place to go.

And if you’re looking for where to start, scroll on for Esquire’s menswear pilgrimage of Tokyo.

The best Americana stores in Tokyo

Freeport, Ueno

If Americana style is living and breathing anywhere, it’s in Ameyoko. The open-air market was originally a place where black market and surplus American army goods could be bought by the Occupation forces in the aftermath of World War II (hence, “Ame”). Now, with the smell of local yakitori restaurants and the rattle of overhead trains coming in and out of nearby Ueno station, the district is a bustling tourist hot-spot. And the only sentiment for America left in the area is the abundance of stores dedicated to Ametora (“American traditional” in Japanese; if you’ve read W. David Marx’s book of the same name, it’s Japanese-style Americana, only far better than the Americans could’ve done it). Freeport is a haven to discover how contemporary local brands are reinterpreting Ametora, stocking jackets, shirts, ties and denim. Enthusiasts themselves, they let me flick through archival copies of Japanese Esquire from the early-1980s, and an original copy of Take Ivy by Shosuke Ishizu and Toshiyuki Kurosu from 1965.

6 Chome-2-10 Ueno, Taito City, Tokyo 110-0005, Japan.

Hinoya One, Ueno

Now, if you decide to continue down the labyrinthe alleyways of Ameyoko, Hinoya One is another worthy stop. One branch in the Hinoya family of stores in the area (each store serving their specialty of Ametora), Hinoya One stocks an impressive selection of Japanese-made American classics. One of the few stores to do so, this was where I picked up two packs of Whitesville white T-shirts (aka one of the tube constructed white T-shirts Carmy wears in The Bear). And you can’t ignore the hanging Hawaiian/bowling shirts around the store. If there’s to be an alternative to the summer tee, let it be the camp collar shirt. Hinoya One certainly makes a case for it.

6 Chome-10-16 Ueno, Taito City, Tokyo 110-0005, Japan.

Usonian Goods Store, Shibuya

Walking through the doors of Usonian Goods Store feels as if you’ve teleported from the bustle of Shibuya and into a quiet brick-and-mortar shirt store somewhere on the American east coast. For one, the cabinets are filled with every colour of oxford shirt from imported brands such as L.L. Bean, as well as racks of American workwear jackets. There’s also a wall stocked with leather shoes, particularly loafers, from stalwart preppy brands like G.H. Bass and Sebago. And a corner in the back of the store, set up like a tailor’s office, is where they conduct their made-to-measure service for shirts and blazers for even more option paralysis (the good kind).

1F 2 Chome−19−16, Jingumae, Tokyo 1500001, Japan.

The best vintage stores in Tokyo

Kissmet, Koenji

It goes without saying that competition in Tokyo for vintage is unmatched in terms of variety and quality of stock. More so for Koenji, located west of central Tokyo, where the popularity of vintage stores grew in parallel with the vibrant music scene in the 1990s. It’s a haven for subcultures. Here you’ll find an extensive selection of archival Issey Miyake, Comme des Garçons and Yohji Yamamoto, among other iconic brands that range from workwear to shirts and tailored pieces. Visiting Kissmet is well worth the trip to Koenji alone.

3 Chome-56-1-101 Koenjiminami, Suginami City, Tokyo 166-0003, Japan.

J’Antiques, Nakameguro

Founded in 2005 by Hitoshi Uchida, J’antiques in Nakameguro boasts an eclectic range of vintage pieces and antiques spanning the twentieth century. It’s the kind of trove where you’ll find French workwear jackets from the 1940s next to Americana camp collar shirts and accessories, and an assortment of hats from beanies to military pilot helmets. Furniture and objet d’art (hoarders-talk for little home trinkets) are decorated around the space labelled with dates from the 1950s to as early as the 1800s. As a sign in the store instructs, “Everything is vintage, and everything is for sale”.

Elle Reve Nakameguro, 2 Chome-25-13 Kamimeguro, Meguro City, Tokyo 153-0051, Japan.

Fethers Goffa X, Shibuya

The Tokyo branch to Fethers Goffa in Osaka, Fethers Goffa X is a converted traditional Japanese home at the end of a residential street in Shibuya where you’ll find vintage pieces on the ground floor, and a rent-able exhibition space on the second. The store mixes classic menswear pieces from Italy with sourced pieces of workwear and craft designs from brands such as Charles Jeffrey Loverboy and Swedish label Our Legacy.

2 Chome-31-9, Jingumae, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0001, Japan.

BerBerJin, Harajuku

This is the stop for those in search of well-broken-into-to vintage Levi’s and Wrangler jeans. Stocking other hallmarks of vintage Americana, BerBerJin has also makes a case for tasteful Hawaiian shirts, well-worn collegiate jumpers and varsity jackets, and military jackets. And also stocking deadstock products from Levi’s and Converse, furthering its niche for Americana in the competitive vintage market of Harajuku.

3 Chome-26-11 Jingumae, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0001, Japan.

The best Japanese denim stores in Tokyo

Kapital Legs, Shibuya

There are several Kapital stores around Tokyo, but it’s Kapital Legs in Roppongi that specialises in denim and craftier garments. Founded in Kojima, Okayama (Japan’s denim capital), Kapital has been producing its own denim since 1985, and it’s all handcrafted by artisans, garnering fans the world over ever since. The store is set up like a denim artisan’s workshop, too, mixed with American Western decor that’s an affinity for the brand. Here you’ll find denim jackets that Kapital is known for, as well as repaired and patched up pieces given new life with reworked embellishments and embroidery.

2 Chome-23-12 Ebisuminami, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0022, Japan.

Okura, Daikanyama

It’s like being submerged in a vat of indigo. From jackets, T-shirts, jumpers and kimonos, Okura is indigo heaven set up like a Japanese workhouse (“kura”), stocking both Japanese and international brands that specialise in the dyeing process with varying price points. Located in Daikanyama, the store is also the flagship for Blue Blue Japan, a made-in-Japan brand that specialises in pure indigo dyeing, with a range spanning denim, shirts and lifestyle pieces.

20-11 Sarugakucho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0033, Japan.

Warehouse & Co., Shibuya

Specialising in selvedge denim, Warehouse & Co. has a cult following for its faithful reproductions of no longer produced styles and cuts from brands such as Levi’s and Wrangler. Located in Shibuya, the store is warmly lit from its wooden interior that brings to mind a chalet. Other denim garments and accessories are on offer, as well as their own knitwear and a selection of vintage T-shirts.

1 Chome-29-8, Ebisunishi, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0021, Japan.

Okayama Denim, Meguro

An appointment-only destination store in Shibuya, it’s at Okayama Denim where you’ll not only get to shop artisanal Japanese selvedge denim, but also have a guided appointment hosted by a knowledgeable specialist. In the showroom, you’ll be talked through the various dyeing processes that are offered, as well as cuts, rises, and styles for you to customise. Their off-the-rack options aren’t to be ignored either while you’re there, receiving the same level of quality, it also spans jackets, shirts and jeans.

Book a reservation at their showroom here.

2F, Terada Residence, 1 Chome-5-21, Aobadai, Meguro City, Tokyo 153-0042, Japan.

The best streetwear stores in Tokyo

Beams Men, Shibuya

Warning: you may burn a hole through your wallet here. Beams has been a household name in Japan since its founding in 1976, and its Beams Men store in Shibuya (a six-minute walk from the famous Shibuya Scramble Crossing) that boasts some of the best contemporary Japanese and international streetwear brands. A two-floor space, you’ll find Japanese streetwear brands such as Needles and Brooklyn-based Pilgrim Surf+Supply on the first floor, as well as sneakers and every gorpcore brand under the sun. Upstairs, however, holds classic and artisanal menswear brands like Beams Plus (the Americana diffusion line), OrSlow and Auralee, stocking pieces from button-down shirts, ties, knits, workwear and denim. Restraint is advised.

1 Chome-15-1, Jinnan, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-004, Japan.

Union, Shibuya

Union likes to describe itself as the home of local and international streetwear. The first Union store opened in 1989 in New York’s Soho, back before brands like Stüssy or Supreme had their own standalone stores. It was at Union where you could buy hard-to-find and up-and-coming brands, well before ‘streetwear’ could be defined. And you can definitely see this torchbearer mindset continuing in their Tokyo store line up, mixing local and international talent that are also hard to come by IRL: Bode, Wales Bonner, Nanamica, KidSuper, to name a few.

2 Chome-26-5 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0001, Japan.

blue room, Shibuya

A little gem of a store in central Shibuya, blue room specialises in vintage streetwear from the 1990s. Of which, as you can imagine, is replete with all the gimmicky graphic T-shirts from the era. They also keep a tight selection in the store, which also includes jackets, pants and footwear, cultivating a range that they describe as Harajuku club wear. So if you’re looking for niche band graphic tees with a sense of humour, stop by to take a piece or two home from this bygone era of clubbing.

102, Suzuki Building 2 Chome-4-10, Shibuya, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0002, Japan.

The best artisanal stores in Tokyo

Sans Limite, Ueno

Located on the second floor of a tenant-building, Sans Limite operates above the noise of Ameyoko in a warmly-lit showroom. Shirts, their main product, are hung around the space like art pieces, some are also styled phantom-like with stuffed bags for limbs. Shirts are a main focus for designer Yusuke Monden, who founded the brand in 2012 after more than a decade on the design team at Comme des Garçons Shirts. They wanted to create a brand that’s seemingly perfected the garment with unchanging styles in cotton that only get better with age and wear.

4 Chome-6-10 Ueno, Taito City, Tokyo 110-0005, Japan.

Anatomica, Nihonbashi

A fixation on fit and producing classic menswear has been at the heart of Anatomica since Pierre Fournier founded the brand in 1994 in Paris. But by a chance meeting with designer Kinji Teramoto in 2006, the partnership has brought a cross-cultural dialogue of the best of French and Japanese-made craft to the brand ever since. There are two Anatomica stores located in Tokyo, their flagship being in Nihonbashi, which are stocked with their range that mixes berets with traditional Japanese handkerchiefs and original workwear designs. Tailored pieces, namely jackets, are cut with that Japanese sensibility that optimises movement; an obsession with the negative space between the body and fabric.

2 Chome-27-19, Higashi-Nihonbashi, Chuo City, Tokyo 103-0004, Japan.

Coelacanth, Aoyama

A small concept store, located away from the action of other high-end retailers in Aoyama, Coelacanth stocks a tight selection of artisanal Japanese brands, as well as some vintage pieces that align with their less-is-more approach. Wabi-sabi (the practice of appreciating beauty in imperfection) is the guiding ethos in the store, seen in the brands they stock such as Yoko Sakamoto, down to the decor and visual merchandising assembled like a still life.

2 Chome-3-3, Shibuya, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0002, Japan.


Where to find vintage menswear in Sydney

How China and Japan remain at the cutting edge of men’s street fashion