10 Shopping Districts for Frugal Fashionistas in Tokyo

Jul 19, 2016

Tokyo is a fashion hotspot that is even attracted attention from American’s Next Top Model. Presentation is very important in Japan, so there is no shortage of stores suited to whatever your style sense may be. Fortunately, there are dozens of hidden gems that every penny-pinching goddess should be aware of when traveling through Tokyo.

Though these first two are actual stores that you can find scattered around some of the districts mentioned later, they have wonderful selections and a unique feature. Because these two stores are affiliated with dominant grocery store chains – Summit and Aeon – you can use the point cards and receive additional discounts as a member. Generally, there is no price difference between the two.

1 Fashion Center Shimamura

Think of Shimamura as Uniqlo’s free-spirited younger sister who has all the fun. Often found paired with Peacock stores and Aeon supermarkets, Shimamura is one of the best places to find any clothing piece you might be searching for. The styles represented range from cute and youthful to sleek and elegant. There is also a fantastic selection of plus-sized clothing.

2 Korumopia

You will find Korumopia compounded with Summit grocery stores. Though not distinctly for clothing but other housing goods as well, Korumopia offers simplistic fashion, organic threads, and great seasonal deals. What I love about Korumopia is their quality professional workwear, which comes in a variety of styles, sizes, and lengths but without the overwhelming price of department stores.

3 Harajuku and Ura-hara

A walk down Takashita-dori and throughout Harajuku is a fashionista’s dream come true. While you will find a number of boutiques where only movie stars can purchase the goods, there is a vast number of secondhand consignment shops available for perusal, like Rag Tag and Closet Child – my personal favorite.

You will also find Laforet, a department store devoted to cotton candy explosions and cute. If you are in Japan on a tourist visa, you can access the Tax Free benefits most of the shops offer. Be sure to walk the back allies of Ura-hara, which teems with counterculture treasures.

4 Aoyama, Omotesando

Though not the best place to search for steals on up-to-date haute couture, Omotesando Hills gives you access to name brands like Jimmy Choo, Diane von Furstenberg, Helen Kaminski and Urban Research. Impressive sales do happen, though.

Close to this location is another place to go when looking for traditional Japanese fashion without shelling out thousands. Oriental Bazaar is an option for purchasing unique souvenirs and kimono in Western sizes so you will not have to worry about your yukata being too short.

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5 Shimokitazawa, Setagaya-Ku

Though compared to Harajuku and Koenji, Shimokitazawa outshines both places when it comes to bohemian and free-spirited ambiance. The narrow streets overflow with vintage and subculture fashion from local and international brands. What’s awesome about Shimokitazawa is that you can find typical Harajuku goods for nearly half the price. One place to check out is the Toyo Hyakattan Garage Department Store. Though it looks like a dilapidated warehouse, it is really a hotspot for non-conventional fashion.

6 Koenji, Suginami-Ku

Although mostly residential, Koenji is second to none when it comes to used clothing stores and underground subculture venues. Leave from any exit of the train station to find yourself surrounded by independently owned discounted good stores. Two recommended stores to look out for are Mode-Off and Treasure Factory Style – both with inventories so astronomically cheap you can replace your entire wardrobe.

7 Sugamo, Toshima-Ku

Most Tokyoites will affectionately call Sugamo ‘Grandma’s Harajuku.’ In the past, this place used to be the focal point for trends and fads, but that soon shifted to Shibuya and Harajuku. So why is Sugamo so special if it is aimed towards the elderly? The atmosphere. Walking along Jizo-Dori gives you a taste of pre-WWII days in the form of traditional, handmade clothing, umbrellas, and accessories.

8 Nakano Broadway, Nakano-Ku

Anything you want can be found in Nakano Broadway for a reasonable price. This multi-level building is chock full of discounted items, second-hand kimonos, cosplay costumes, ethnic fashions from across the globe and U.S. Army-themed garments. An entire day can be spent here.

9 Venus Outlets, Odaiba

People usually venture to Odaiba for more than just the shopping, but Venus Outlets might be worth a special trip. Sure, this manmade island has the usual popular stores like H&M and Forever 21 in other locations. The outlets, though, have 80% off sales on brands like Levi’s, Dickies and Puma. Not to mention the European interior design is breathtakingly detailed.

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10 Flea Markets

While scattered throughout Tokyo and held in parks and plazas, flea markets boast fantastic spreads of clothing selections, among other goodies. Yoyogi Park’s Yoyogi Flea Market, in particular, has tons of recycled – and upcycled – fashion items. There is some uncertainty about the schedule, but it usually happens on weekends. Another to seek out is Akihabara’s UDX market, where handcrafted clothing and accessories are bountiful.

Walking around in style does not mean selling your soul to the Japanese fashion gods. Load up your wardrobe at these 10 stores and locations while keeping your wallet full for other adventures.