Thrift Like a Local: The Tokyo West Edition

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Ethical and sustainable fashion often comes with a big price tag and it’s time to stop we weigh our ethics against our wallet. Follow us for a shopping guide that will fill your wardrobe with affordable clothes to make you, the planet and your bank feel good.

It is hard to believe that our purchase decisions matter when we consider the enormity of the fashion industry. The rise of fast fashion clothing has altered clothes from being valuable possessions to disposable items, drawing us in tons of clothes we sometimes never use.

Fortunately over the past years we, as consumers, have become increasingly conscious about our purchases. May it be Tokyo or elsewhere, eco-friendly clothing such as thrifting has become crucial to the future of fashion and does not have to break your wallet or style.

The rise of thrifting culture in Japan

In Japan the change of consumer behavior is predominantly seen among the younger generation, said Taku Sawad, a board member of Treasure Factory Co.—major second-hand clothing and accessories chain in Japan. According to NHK, there is a shift in the Japanese consumer market and 49% of the younger generation prefer to buy second-hand instead of brand new items.

Mobile marketplaces such as Mercariare slowly transforming Japan’s thrifting culture, with 10.3 million users declared in Japan alone. However, it doesn’t stop there, e-commerce giant Rakuten launched its second-hand market app called Rakuma.

On the business side of things, Reuse business journalannounced that second-hand sales as a business module in Japan had a market worth of ¥1.6 trillion in 2015. Moreover, Business of Fashion(BoF) reported that Japanese second-hand clothes and accessories market shares are valued at ¥483.5 billion ($4.59 billion) in 2017, showing no signs of slowing down.

Transition to an eco-friendly price tag

But how can youmake the shift to a more sustainable wardrobe without breaking your wallet?

Did you know that buying and selling/donating your clothes at secondhand shops is one of the most sustainable ways to shop? In Japan, there is a cultural practice to minimize waste called: mottainai(勿体無い), which translate to “wasteful”, “what a waste”. It is used to express regret when resources or possessions are being wasted.

With thrift shops (リサイクルショップ, risaikuru shoppu) you are not only saving money by buying far more affordable clothing, but you also tend to buy smarter as you spend more time looking over items. By thrifting clothes, you help to reduce waste and pollution and the item you are going to purchase is less likely to end up in landfills.

Additionally, you can help boost your local community with purchasing from local businesses and artists instead of multinational corporations. There, you are more likely to find unique items and get creative with your combinations. Win win win.

Did you say thrifting in Tokyo?

So you decided to make the shift to a more environmentally friendly wardrobe, but where to thrift? Here is our Tokyo guide to local thrift in the west neighborhood of the city, well known for its thrifting culture. These businesses will make shopping an ethically and affordable experience for you (and everyone who tag along with you for a little shopping outing)!

1. Shimokitazawa Garage Department

Tokyo Departmentis a huge shared garage space with a collection of individual stores. In some way, it’s like a vintage department store with a flea market vibe and several local artists selling handmade jewelry, accessories and secondhand clothes. If you are an upcoming artist yourself there is the possibility to rent a small box and sell your craft.

SAVVY PICK

Lanp by VALON is a vintage & antique used clothing store that has a variety of stylish and affordable early 20th century items. Their carefully selected hat collection is especially worth checking out.

Where:2-25-8 Kitazawa, Setagaya, Tokyo

Business Hours:Mon to Sun, noon to 8 p.m.

2. Stick Out

Tucked away on the second floor of a quiet street, you can find a thrift dream for all those on a tight budget. This secondhand shopsells all its used clothing, accessories and DIY fashion items for¥700+tax, making it one of the cheapest secondhand stores in Tokyo.

SAVVY PICK

Take a look at their range of unique blouses, T-shirts in every shade and coats to spice up your closet. If you want to be on-trend, we advise you to check out their men’s section for that oversized look.

Where:2−14-16 Kitazawa, 2F, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo

Business Hours:Mon to Sun, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

3. Little Trip to Heaven

Named after Tom Waits’s famous song, this second-hand clothing store is inspired by flea markets in the 40s-80s in Europe and America. The storehas two locations in Tokyo—Koenji and Shimokitazawa— and with daily arrivals in both shops, there won’t be any shortcomings for all those old-fashioned and accessory lovers who dream of a nostalgic vintage atmosphere.

SAVVY PICK

From mid 20th century inspired jewelry to accessories like Long pearl necklaces, bold Art Deco colors, faux gemstones, cloche hats and beaded evening dresses inspired by ‘flappers’, a little trip to heaven is a one-way ticket to vintage paradise.

Setagaya Branch

Where:2−26−19, Hills 2, Kitazawa, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo

Business Hours:Mon to Sun, 11 a.m. to 9.30 p.m.

Suginami Branch

Where:4-24-7, 1F, Koenjiminami, Suginami, Tokyo

Business Hours:Mon to Sun, 11.30 a.m. to 9.30 p.m.

4. 2nd Street

In a sea of vintage shops, it might be difficult to find a budget-friendly used clothing store when it comes to luxurious items. 2nd Street is one of the well-known second-hand stores among locals with multiple locations around Japan. This store is a go-to for locals and dedicated thrifters, looking for retail items for a reasonable price.

SAVVY PICK

During the winter days, this is the best place to shop for affordable sweaters, jumpers, outerwear, and pants. In spring and summer, they stock on various dresses, skirts, shorts and a variety of blouses and t-shirts for every personal style.

Where:4-26-4 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo

Business Hours:Mon to Sun, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

5. Treasury Factory Style

Making the shift into a more environmentally friendly is not easy, a good start is letting go of all the clothes you don’t wear anymore. So why not earn some extra coins while you are at it? With multiple locations in Tokyo, Treasure Factory Style offers you not only the option to buy used clothing but also to sell your unwanted fashion items. Note this service is only available for residents in Japan.

SAVVY PICK

They have a variety of outwear pieces: from trench/coats, puffer/leather jackets all the way to blazers, you name it!

Where:2−3−9, 1F,‎ Kitazawa, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo

Business Hours:Mon to Sun, 10 a.m to 9 p.m.

6. Sukonbu

With two locations in Shimokitazawa, Sukonbu is a store that sells handmade jewelry of local artists. Both stores are curated with tiny cubes, in which each artist displays their handwork. By purchasing local artist goods, you encourage small businesses and simultaneously promote economic growth within your community.

SAVVY PICK

Check out their hand-crafted earring pieces for yourself or as a special gift.

Setagaya 1st Branch

Where:2−13−7,‎ Kitazawa, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo

Business Hours:Mon to Sun, Noon to 8 pm

Setagaya 2nd Branch

Where:2-25-8, Kitazawa, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo

Business Hours:Mon to Sun, Noon to 8 p.m.

As you can see there are many options for you to update your wardrobe without breaking your account and it comes with the environmental benefits of sticking with conscious consumerism rather than opting for a fast-fashion favorite. We hope this has been a helpful guide for your transition to a greener wardrobe.