Velvet, Tokyo’s Must-Visit Vintage Boutique
Although fast fashion seems to have taken over Asia (and other continents besides), Japan – and, more specifically, Tokyo – remains very well known in the international sphere for its many thrift shops, each one of which is more zany and stylish than the last. One of them, Velvet, is a vintage shop that specialises in masculine fashion and seeks to make men ‘cool, original and sensual’.
Velvet is located in the heart of Shimokitazawa district, in the west of Tokyo. Shimokitazawa is a real second-hand heaven, where shoppers can find items from 1970s furniture to vinyl for all tastes, and many other second-hand pieces. Velvet has made a name for itself thanks to its cutting-edge selection of masculine pieces which includes brands such as TAKAHIROMIYASHITA TheSoloIst, Midorikawa, UNUSED and Needles.
Created by Tomoki Takaso, a 33-year-old former fashion journalist at Huge magazine, Velvet came into existence on 1st August 2015. ‘I wanted to open my own shop because, at the time, I found that there were very few cool, cutting-edge vintage shops for men in Japan. And because I knew quite a bit about fashion, I decided to go for it on the spur of the moment’, Takaso explains.
Vintage items have only become popular in Japan relatively recently, but their rise is growing. ‘The most sought-after garments are those which have a historic value and a story to tell; they’re not necessarily those made by luxury brands’, the boutique manager reveals. He explains that young Japanese people of today tend to prefer vintage pieces to items from department stores. We’re therefore seeing a new era in which men dare to express themselves more, and this is partly thanks to fashion, he states.
These social changes are reflected through clothing: ‘Even though there’s still a certain uniformity in most Japanese people’s style, vintage fashion has allowed many people to stand out from the crowd. And I find these style changes very interesting to observe. I notice more and more people with a cutting-edge style, wearing rare pieces. People are fed up of copying each other, and I’m glad!’ he adds.
Velvet is much more than just a vintage boutique; it’s the fruit of the labour of a fashion-loving workaholic who’s keen to share his fashion anecdotes with customers. It’s a place which attracts people of all backgrounds and which takes us back in time, encouraging us to dare to wear what we love, without worrying about what others might think.
Following the success of Velvet, Takaso hopes to open a second concept store in the very near future! Until then, this hyperactive individual is continuing to create his own garments and thinking about writing a book on fashion and Japan.
Tampopo, the Best 'Ramen Western' in History
Released in 1985, this second feature film from Juzo Itami is a 'ramen western', alluding to the famous 'spaghetti western' sub-genre.
Sawako Ariyoshi, the Japanese Simone de Beauvoir
Her caustic view of Japanese society and her feminist vision made her a successful but marginal author in the literary world of the time.
Yurie Nagashima, a Leading Female Voice in Japanese Photography
Photographer Yurie Nagashima grew up surrounded by strong female role models: her teachers, members of her family, and Simone de Beauvoir.
Tadashi Kawamata's Monumental Wooden Artworks
His monumental wooden creations both infiltrate and accompany buildings, but are easily dismounted and given a new artistic life.
The Must-Read Text on Japanese Aesthetics, 'In Praise of Shadows'
First published in Japanese in 1933, Junichiro Tanizaki’s In Praise of Shadows is a testimony to the enduring timelessness of Japanese aesthetics.