Fashion Without the High Price Tag

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Photo by Anh Tu Tran

When I first moved to Tokyo, I felt out of place. Of course I was a gaijin, so I stood out for obvious reasons. But it wasn’t entirely that. Everyone was just so fashionable. Kids all the way up to grandparents had their own sense of style. Whether conservative or risky, it always looked fresh. While I looked very underdressed in old baggy jeans and graphic T-shirts.

Fortunately, I caught up with the crowd and created my own style in my time here. And I didn’t have to go to any of those high-end, expensive stores to do it. Here are a few of my favorite places to shop and save.

1. Uniqlo

A pioneer in affordable fashion that most of you probably know about. But I decided to mention it anyway for any Japan newcomers. Uniqlo is sort of the Japanese counterpart to the Gap, without the high prices. Here you can find casual wear, business attire and everything in between. Sizes run a bit smaller here so in some cases I’d suggest going a size up before buying.

Additionally, Uniqlo sells this awesome material called Heat Tech; a lineup of warm, yet not heavy, garments. I hate wearing bulky itchy sweaters during the winter, so Heat Tech has been a godsend. Be sure to check it out on your next visit.

*Pro Tip: Find the “special” floors in select stores for limited release items.

2. GU

I call this place the even cheaper version of Uniqlo. Selection is about the same, but prices can get unbelievable at times; especially during holiday sales. I would like to tell myself that maybe the difference between GU and Uniqlo is quality. Yet so far, everything I’ve brought here has lasted. Which says a lot, considering the amount of running and jumping around I do at my job.

If you spot a Uniqlo, GU usually isn’t far. Uniqlo is its parent company.

3. H&M

H&M is probably internationally known for its affordable, trendy clothing. This has also put their business practices under some scrutiny, but that’s a discussion for another article. I don’t shop here a whole lot. But I know that when I go here the clothes will always fit. H&M is a European company, so things run larger compared to Japan.

The store tends to prices things right in the sweet spot of affordable and expensive. So watch your wallet here. But if you look hard enough there’s always pieces marked down within the racks.

4. Runner-Ups

Bershka: Some truly unique pieces here. The Shibuya location seems to be always adding new stuff so if you come at the right time, there’s bound to be a sale. Slightly more expensive than previous mentions.

Zara: Never shopped here but was told that some affordable things could be found here. Any thoughts?

Vintage/Used Clothing Shops: The awesome thing about shopping at these places is that if you find something you like, you just might be the only person in Tokyo to have it! I’ve scored some dope gear while scouring various vintage shops. In some cases just paying a coin to acquire them. I don’t have a particular one to call my favorite, but places like Harajuku and Shimokitazawa have shops scattered throughout their streets.

Know of any other spots? Feel free to mention them in the comments. And look out for those sales!

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Trekkie trekking through the Nihon quadrant.
  • Carlos Covarrubias says:

    What about Right-On? They have a lot of good items and I thing still affordable! Give it a try!

    And for girls maybe Honey’s.

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