How time flies! In December, we had the chance to visit Tokyo, Japan – a city where retail is an art form.

As we strongly believe, sometimes it’s the things you don’t do that are more important than the things you do. A strong brand purpose gives you the direction required to make the decisions around what’s in and what’s out. And, Tokyo is a great place to see retail in its best form, where the customer is understood, and the store experience is esteemed and the purpose of each store is evident. The retailers here just seem to “get it”, and the shopping is epic because of it.

More specifically, what I love about the shopping in this city is their meticulous attention to detail. The customer is held in high regard and as a result, there is complete focus on their niche with no confusion or overlap. Each retailer knows their purpose and who they’re here to serve.

Visual merchandising is a craft that’s given its full potential to create an experience aligned to the customer, trend and direction of the store. All that appears in store is considered. Nothing is an afterthought, slapped together, or added on without consideration.

One great example of this is Beams, they’ve been around for over 40 years, and have a wide audience and range, so how do they do it? Instead of just adding more and more to the one store, and diluting their original aesthetic they have opened several concept stores in order to fully explore additional fashion points of view. Some of their brands are listed below, but you get the idea.

  • Beams F: the suiting specialist that celebrates European classics
  • Beams + : the denim / lumberjack hipster supplier celebrating American nostalgia
  • Beams T: the street fashion store using the tee shirt as the canvas to celebrate art with regular exhibitions bringing art to the people
  • Ray Beams: women’s wear celebrating a “chic way of life”
  • Beams Boy: for women who love the strength and function of men’s fashion

Beams Brands 

Here are some more standout stores to visit in Tokyo that “get it”:

Dover St Market: yes, they started in London, but true to form this store has so many stores in store its exhilarating. Each one focused and true to the designer on show.

Dove Street Market GinzaDover Street Market Gucci Store GinzaDover Street Market Vending Machine Ginza

Kafe Kitsune: beautifully tucked away in the streets of Omotesando Hills. This French café is all about the love of coffee and offers a simple menu of accompaniments to the honoured drink. Best French toast I’ve had!

Cafe Kitsune GardenCafe Kitsune CoffeeKafe Kitsune French ToastCafe Kitsune Store

WISM: World Interest Souvenir Market. A street fashion store with an awesome Doublet installation of fake cash money flying out of an ATM taking over their entrance.

Doublet WISM Store FrontWISM storeWISM VM

Burton: so serious about snow they installed their very own patch of snow out the front of the store.

Burton Flagship Store JapanBurton Snow Installation






North Face Kids: why have a pokey ‘kids section’ at the back of the store when you can open a store just for kids?

North Face Kids Japan

Port of Call: a surf store who knows its audience in the back streets of Omotesando Hills. Brands sourced from Australia to California, a great example of curation and focus on the customer.

Port of Call Shop FrontPort of Call VM

Other all time favourites:

Tokyu Hands, Shibuya: the one stop shop with everything you need to make almost anything, or go places. The stationery floor alone is worth the 2 hours you’ll need to fill your basket with unspeakable treasures.

Tokyu Hands ShibuyaTokyu Hands Stationery

Tomorrowland: always a favourite, a beautifully curated department store of luxury fashion and accessories for men and women. They have a similar set up to Beams with several offshoot brands, all with a considered point of view, including EditionSuper a market, Galerie Vie & Des Pres with many more.

Tomorrowland Shop Front

Gucci, Ayoyama – the spinning doll house window display is enough for a mention. A hive of activity, Gucci is where it’s at for luxury fashion thanks to the genius of Alessandro Michele. The Roppongi Hills flagship is also worth a visit with the store designed by Alessandro himself.

 Gucci Flagship Store TokyoGucci Roppongi Hills

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