Even in cutting-edge Tokyo, Aoyama stands out. The neighborhood is known as the city's central shopping district for high fashion, and its main boulevard, Omotesando, is surrounded by a maze of little streets full of excellent shops. Here, you’ll find all the local stars (like Issey Miyake and Yohji Yamamoto) along with the other big names you're accustomed to seeing everywhere in the world, but in Aoyama many of the buildings—from Chanel's Peter Marino-designed black and white cube to Jun Aoki's stacked-box design for Louis Vuitton—are attractions in themselves. Although it’s possible to spend an entire trip to Tokyo weaving in and out of the seemingly endless boutiques in Aoyama, here are five you shouldn’t miss.
The first thing you notice when walking into this Studio Toogood-designed space is the sales staff, who look impossibly chic in outfits that you might first dismiss as borderline unwearable (frothy tutus paired with rubber jackets; sweaters made of fishing net). But they look good enough that you’ll find your initial hesitation melt away and come out carrying a shopping bag containing, say, a muslin-and-tartan pleated skirt or a gold Lurex fedora.
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Mori was one of the original Japanese designers on the world stage, even before the likes of Yohji Yamamoto, Issey Miyake and Comme des Garcons. Pass by the store windows, and you might find mannequins robed in traditional kimonos sharing space with others dressed in Mori's meticulously detailed gray flannel trouser suits. Be sure to visit the small mall located below the store, which has a number of dealers specializing in Edwardian and Victorian jewelry. The bracelets and brooches may hail from Europe, but the rigorous way they have been curated and their stunning quality are thoroughly Japanese.