By Marina Liao
If you were to list some Japanese clothing brands, iconic names like Comme des Garçons, Issey Miyake, and Yohji Yamamoto might roll off your tongue. Each brand carries their own storied histories (the 2017 Met Gala was dedicated to Rei Kawakubo), but there are plenty more Japanese labels to appreciate once you do a little deep dive into its fashion scene. Wandering the streets of shopping neighborhoods like Harajuku or Shinjuku can be the best way to discover both mainstream and independent Japanese clothing stores, but when this isn't a viable option the next best thing is to refer to the list ahead. We curated 13 Japanese fashion labels available to shop right now, so you don't have to travel far to experience what the brands have to offer. We even converted the yen to dollars for you, for some brands, to save you time at checkout.
Print Flower Maxi Dress - Snidel
Designed by Asami Kusugami, Snidel launched in 2005 and is best described as "street formal," the pieces you find are casual but also suitable for more formal events. The label is popular amongst young Japanese women and college students who shop at Snidel for its range of fashion options, from summer dresses to accessories like handbags and shoes. Snidel has store locations all over Japan, but if you can't make it out to Harajuku or Shibuya, you can shop from its online store and follow its U.S. Instagram.
White Scallop T-Shirt - Noir Kei Ninomiya
Kei Ninomiya counts Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons as his mentor and has adopted elements from Comme des Garçons for his own label Noir, which launched in 2012. Ninomiya is known for his color palette of mainly black and white, avant-garde designs that appear fantastical and dreamy like cloud-like tulle dresses or BDSM-esque creations like corsets and voluptuous cage dresses. As fitting as Ninomiya's designs are for editorial shoots or the extravagant parties you might be invited to, the everyday consumer can opt for his more affordable scallop tees and shirt dresses that all still make a fashion statement.
Crosshatch Camisole Blouse - Sacai
Sacai was founded in 1999 by Chitose Abe who previously worked at Comme des Garçons for eight years. The designer is known for creating pieces based on her creative instincts and that can be appreciated universally. She started out with knitwear first and now her label encompasses everything, from spliced dresses to shirts like this that explore ideas of volume and shape. The label is known for producing RTW that feature juxtaposition of patterns and ideas. Sacai has collaborated with numerous brands from Nike to Undercover and remains one of the most sought-after brands.
Asymmetric Houndstooth Coat - Kolor
Unconventional but practical is how I'd describe Junichi Abe's brand Kolor. The designer has fully mastered juxtaposing prints together and creating asymmetric garments (like this houndstooth coat) that catch your attention as you scroll through the shopping page. The pieces are tailored and streamlined yet interesting enough to become the boldest statement piece in your wardrobe. FYI: Junichi is married to Chitose, making these two Japanese designers a dynamic power duo.
Aran V-Neck Pullover - Gelato Pique
This Japan-based loungewear label carries soft, high-quality laidback separates for both men and women. The fabrics used in creating its lounge pieces are given pseudonyms with dessert names such as "gelato" and "soufflé." Gelato Pique is your go-to for comfortable WFH or weekend fashion, so feel free to cozy up in one of their sweaters for fall.
Blue Sashiko Patchwork Jeans - Blue Blue Japan
The in-house brand of OKURA, Blue Blue Japan uses traditional Japanese techniques, from artisan washes to sashiko stitching, to create its clothes. The brand focuses on offering workwear staples, all made in Japan, such as oxford shirts and denim staples made with indigo dye as that's the brand signature hue. The blue gets better with age, so don't be afraid to wear your piece 24/7.
The Chills tank - Hysteric Glamour
Hysteric Glamour, founded by Nobuhiko Kitamura, was the '90s It girl go-to. The streetwear brand still remains beloved to this day by stars like Gwen Stefani and produces relevant collabs with other popular streetwear labels like Supreme. Kitamura, whose influences include Andy Warhol and era-specific pop culture such as The Stooges and the Star Wars, draws on rock-and-roll, punk rebellion motifs than cutesy, feminine prints and colors. This top feels like a vintage find without the hassle of having to dig through the racks at your local thrift store.
Logo-Print Cotton-Jersey T-Shirt - NEIGHBORHOOD
In talking about Japanese streetwear fashion, you may or may not be familiar with NEIGHBORHOOD. (I have to thank my boyfriend for introducing me to this label along with other streetwear brands like Beams—I stole one of his shirts from here and never returned.) NEIGHBORHOOD was founded by Shinsuke Takizawa who followed in the footsteps of people like Nobuhiko Kitamura. Takizawa's aesthetic draws on similar rock and roll culture along with elements of motorcycle culture and American military, and pieces can be found on retailers like Farfetch and Mr. Porter.
Yellow Pullover Shirt - Undercover
Comme des Garçons lovers will feel instantly drawn to streetwear label Undercover, which has the fan approval of Rei Kawakubo herself. Undercover, founded by Jun Takahashi, is influenced by punk rock culture and a sense of rebellion. "I decided to make clothes that are not merely beautiful; I wanted to interpret culture into fashion," said Takahashi in an interview. The designer has collaborated with the likes of Nike, Supreme, and Valentino (the latter dubbed by Pierpaolo Piccioli and Takahashi as a dark fantasy collab), giving Undercover extra honor badges as one of Japan's brands to keep your eyes on.
P02 Pleats Top - Kotohayokozawa
Kotohayokozawa, a womenswear brand, has been around since 2015 with a focus on deconstructed and layered pieces, like this high-neck pleated top that features the same pleated fabric, in different colors, patched together on the front. In addition to the main line, the brand has two more lines called todo and somebody (made with only reusable products).
Blue Patchwork Skirt - Junya Watanabe
Comme des Garçons protégé Junya Watanabe is known for creating innovative and distinctive clothing. He takes the ordinary, clothes we wear every day, and reworks them to present us new iterations that challenge conventional fashion norms. Take this fall/winter 2016 solar paneled coat, for example, or this asymmetrical parka that's anything but boring. Clearly the designer excels in experimenting with tailoring, complex draping, and fabrics, making his pieces (wearable) collectors items.
Pink Turtleneck - Cyclas
Keiko Onose founded Cyclas, a luxury womenswear brand that centers itself on minimalist and modern pieces. The practical pieces were created for "multi-faceted woman, who has a good work-life balance and their lifestyle of fashion choices," said Onose. As promised, you'll find ready-to-wear offerings on its website that span from blouses to striped shirt dresses suited for Zoom calls or the office once we're back in.
Dinner Dress Fishys - Visvim
Visvim was founded by Hiroki Nakamura and started as a footwear brand before encompassing apparel. (The womenswear line is called WMV.) This collection in particular offers feminine silhouettes with a simple appearance, like this asymmetrical bamboo button v-neck dress. The fish print is pescatarian-friendly.
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