– by ChiChai@Empire –
Throwback Thursday to ChiChai@Empire and Chris@Empire’s trip to Japan in May 2017
Our strongest memories are often transformative moments that affect us for the long run. One of my transformative moments was the first time I strolled down Upper Haight Street in San Francisco. My mom and I were visiting my uncle who lives around the corner. And, what meant to be a lunch date became one of my transformative moments. Little did I know that my fifth-grade soul would fall in love with streetwear and urban art that day.
Growing up, little girl fashion choices were often limited to forced structures of what girls “should” be a.k.a. most tees had phrases like “Babygirl” or “Angel.” Please watch this video to get a better idea of what I mean (and how even with simple t-shirt slogans, the social construct of sexism is embedded onto our psychology).
Upper Haight Street showed me that the idea of how girls “should” dress didn’t matter. With stores like Stussy SF, FTC, and TRUE, I saw for the first time t-shirts with art. No cheesy slogan, no cute ass puppy, none of that. These tees had pure artwork on them. Not only did the little artist in me leap in excitement, I was enthralled to see the women working in these shops. Seeing women rock streetwear for the first time was like the first time seeing women who didn’t give an f about being in a male-dominated industry. To me, it was as if their confidence rocking streetwear made the statement “I’m equal and/or better.” I knew instantly that I wanted to be part of that world.
As other California streetwear-lovers know, we blessed. We have LA, SF, and Oakland where urban brands thrive i.e. Hellz Bellz, Benny Gold, Illest, Oaklandish, and way way way more. Over the years, while I dove deeper in love with fashion, I dreamt of visiting a particular street across the seas for another transformative moment: Takeshita Street.
As all streetwear-lovers know, Takeshita Street of Harajuku in Tokyo, Japan is a large slice of streetwear heaven on earth.
Many know Takeshita as being brightly lit with pink storefronts selling staple Harajuku clothing, such as frilly skirts and loud platform shoes.
It’s also known to have cutesy themed cafes and dessert stands. Chris@Empire and I stopped by a Sanrio one out of curiosity. Not gonna lie, it was pretty yummy.
Back to streetwear…
What makes Takeshita Street a streetwear heaven– after passing through its more froufrou side– is its seemingly-endless shops of urban fashion. The shops here push the boundaries beyond the basic pairing of tee + sneakers. The graphics printed on the apparel ranged from classic placement to experimental; all the locals had a unique silhouette by their layering and curation of clothes; and the brands and those rockin them were unapologetically and confidently themselves.
Strolling through Takeshita Street went beyond my expectations and was indeed another transformative moment for me and my personal style.
Here are some of the favorite stores Chris@Empire and I visited:
Takeshita not only includes the shiny and new, it also has thrift stores reviving older gems. One of these thrift stores is Kimono Kabukis which sells vintage kawaii kimonos.
They invite its buyers to bring kimonos into the contemporary world. Example A: how steezy is this mannequin tho?
Example B: From their Instagram
Billionaire Boys Club
Billionaire Boys Club is on the more luxe side of streetwear (i.e. it’s pricing.) But with two big names as its creators, visiting this store was on our list of must-visits.
Trend-setters and musicians Pharrell Williams and Nigo founded BBC in 2005. It has three storefronts on three different continents, adding to the rarity and value of the brand. The store’s layout was clean-cut with out-of-this-world accents to match its astronaut logo.
We’ve been to Undefeated in San Francisco and Los Angeles so we were curious to see what the Tokyo one was like.
It was on the cozier side but it was grand nonetheless. With its wooden fixtures and well-lit glass cases, the store’s handsome setup made us feel as though we were about to buy suits and jewelry.
But nah. I bought a Tokyo exclusive long-sleeve with an Edo-like painting fused with Undefeated’s logo.
Stussy is one of my favorite brands. Ever. It was one of the first streetwear brands I heard of (reference back to intro) and I’ve stayed loyal to it since. I remember thinking when I was younger, “If Shawn Stussy can make a living off his handwriting, so can I!”
Christopher and I have Stussy city shirts from Vancouver, Seoul, Seattle… best believe we were going to get one that said Tokyo on it.
Stussy Tokyo has three floors. THREE! The two bottom floors showcased its apparel and home goods…
whereas the entire top floor was dedicated to the ladies! *screaming*
P.s. To the lady in camo on the left that works for Stussy Women’s– you are an OOTD-inspo.
While I geeked out about Stussy having an all-ladies floor (another example as to why representation matters!) Christopher’s jaw dropped as his inner shoe-head revived.
According to Christopher, Kickslab has several original Jordans and other hella rare sneakers. Christopher– who used to have about 150 sneakers– said this is the largest collections he’s ever seen.
Last but definitely far from least is A Bathing Ape a.k.a. BAPE, another creation of streetwear icon Nigo.
This was the biggest of all shops we visited that day. Standing at three glorious stories, BAPE’s signature bold colors and gorilla-camouflage patterns create a youthful escape.
Can we take time to appreciate the storefront of the bottom floor? Because the bottom floor solely featured the Baby Milo collections, the window displays were made to resemble vending machines with giant Baby Milo + Friends plushes. (If this was real, I would’ve played. Lost. Cried a bit. Then repeat into $20 deep lol.)
More details from the upper floors:
Me literally dropping onto a BAPE couch after shopping *please note that we saved up for a year for this moment*:
We spent nearly the entire day roaming around the neighborhood while admiring and indulging in the local fashion. This streetwear kid’s dream-com- true did serve as a transformative moment. Now that months passed since our visit to Takeshita Street, I’ve been inspired to push my own boundaries. Harajuku’s inspired me to push boundaries for my own style as well as Empire’s.