10 of the Most Exciting Fashion Brands to Come Out of Tokyo

Each pocket of Japan’s capital has its own distinct aesthetic.

Words by Becky Saunders

Tokyoites know how to dress. Home to millions of people, the city is a complex web of pulsing, revolving modernity and enduring traditions. Tokyo’s residents effortlessly play with colours, take risks with print, and boldly showcase oversized garments; trends live and die in the city in a day, or take root and survive for decades.

Made up of a collection of urban enclaves, each pocket of Tokyo has its own distinct aesthetic: from the immaculate outfits of the suited-and-booted in Ginza, where the vibe is very much timeless, to the envelope-pushing, selfie-loving cool kids in Shibuya, and the colourful kawaii (cute) culture on parade every weekend in the street style hub of Harajuku. This is a city that lives and breathes style.

Japanese clothes imbue simplicity, but also seasonality. Once upon a time, the layering of kimonos, their prints, their colours, was virtually dictated by the season. To this day, garments reflect nature — when the weather changes, so does the print and colour palette. No matter where you are in Tokyo, in hanami (cherry blossom-viewing) season it’s all about blushed pinks; when the hydrangea blooms, muted mauves; and in autumn, burnt browns.

Culture turns into style, tradition into trends. From a deep well of inspiration, there’s an almost endless list of fashion brands that have emerged from the capital. New talents surface and are nurtured, while names like Toga and Somarta continue to soar, mixing traditional elements while attempting to answer the enduring question of how to dress well in the 21st century.


1. Odd_


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Live in the image (@odd_tokyo)


Odd_ founder Michihiko Takayama first discovered her love of design when she worked part-time in a convenience store as a student. Realising she was surrounded by items and spaces that had all been designed by somebody, she set about on her own creative journey.

With a strong focus on the design process, Takayama creates clothes from freehand drawings, using elements such as the outlines of graffiti, or the pattern of a soft toy, for structure.

See also
Add a Touch of Hollywood with Gucci's Glamorous Eyewear Collection

By exploring shapes without a final form in mind, her unusual, creative improvisation produces bold silhouettes stitched together with unbridled seam lines. The outcome? Clothes that complement the patchwork-like character of the city.


2. Old Honey


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by oldhoney (@oldhoney.tokyo)


Old Honey started life back in 2013 when designer Marina Hara was still a student. The label soon caught the attention of the fashion world after winning an award, which saw Old Honey making its debut at New York Fashion Week in 2015.

Hara certainly has an eye for splashing a special flavour into ordinary life. Adding frills, lace and billowing sleeves to everyday wear, Old Honey’s clothes are imbued with feminine energy and a sense of childlike fun — all with muted, neutral tones for balance.


3. Fumiku


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Fumiku (@fumiku_tokyo)


It’s hard to resist the allure of Fumiku’s enticing, ethereal designs. The label was launched in 2018 by Fumika Hayashi, who set about creating clothes based on the concept of “expressing the world between real and fantasy”.

Incorporating loose layering, floral prints and sheer fabrics to conventional, staple garments, each of Fumiku’s pieces is woven with easygoing elegance. Wearing the clothes feels like you’ve stepped into your very own Tokyo fantasy, lending a touch of modern romance to the urban sprawl.


4. Peien


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by PEIEN (@_peien_)


Designer Naoko Izawa was born and raised in China, where her interest in fashion was sparked by seeing her father dressed for work in suits. After making the move to Tokyo to study fashion design, her label Peien started life in 2014 with the aim to create handmade garments that people just want to reach out and touch.

Often searching the city for old Japanese fabrics, Izawa weaves using thick, twisted threads, creating designs inspired by the materials she finds. Alongside cleverly sculpted knitwear, elements of traditional Japanese textiles — such as kimonos, sashiko (geometric embroidery), mon (family crests), and indigo dye — are often incorporated into Peien’s offerings.

See also
10 Luxe Bucket Hats To Consider As Your New-Season Accessory


5. Teki


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by @teki_atelier


Teki originated from the idea of breaking the norm, creating clothing for people “who want to dress freely, enjoy life in their own way, and love art”. With a focus on basic fashion, the label integrates Eastern and Western cultures into clothes by combining loose, flowing layers with tailored, almost architectural pieces. Collections run the gauntlet from an oversized pastiche of street style to billowing workwear.


6. Toga


Gaining a set of loyal fans since it was established in 1997, Toga is the creation of Tokyo-based designer Yasuko Furuta. Having studied in both Tokyo and Paris, Furuta now creates clothes with a “complicated woman” archetype in mind.

Sound like you? Well, it’s hard not to be dazzled by Toga’s sophisticated simplicity — for one thing, the brand’s flagship store in Harajuku is situated in a garage. Cleverly cut pieces are layered with textures and flashes of eye-catching prints, radiating a strong sense of individual identity. In fact, so broad is Toga’s appeal, the brand is soon set to collaborate with H&M on a much-anticipated high-street collection.


7. Blue Blue Japan


Blue Blue Japan creates garments based on traditional Japanese textiles and dyeing techniques. It all started back in 1996 as the in-house denim line of clothing boutique Okura, in Tokyo’s upscale, fashion-focused Daikanyama district. The brand has since grown in size but strongly maintains its Made-in-Japan roots.

Utilising long-established Japanese artisan skills such as natural indigo-dyed denim and sashiko, Blue Blue Japan intends for its outfits to be worn for many years. They evolve with every wear: the fabric becomes softer, pigments change as they fade, the shapes shift with the wearer. It’s a whimsical ageing process that connects Blue Blue Japan to a transition of the four seasons.

See also
Livestream: Tune in to Balenciaga's Spring 2024 Collection Here


8. Ponti


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by PONTI (@ponti_tokyo)


Launched in 2014, Ponti takes its name from early comic manga illustrations and, as the name suggests, humour beats through the brand’s identity — even the tag line “For Serious Adult Female Only” is to be taken with a pinch of salt.

Designer Makoto Hirata’s fun and lighthearted collections of flowing dresses and oversized trousers, laced with original prints and patterns, appear to embody Tokyo and the people who call it home: serious but flexible.


9. Somarta


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Tamae Hirokawa (@tamaehirokawa)


A former designer at Issey Miyake, Tamae Hirokawa left her mentor to start her own fashion label. Thus, in 2006, Somarta was born. Hirokawa uses Japanese textile technology in search of new ways of making clothes, attempting to answer the question of what form they should take in the 21st century.

Her famed “Second Skin” series was influenced by human anatomy and how it has been historically adorned with tattoos and other motifs. Recent collections from Somarta have taken cues from the shape of traditional Japanese clothing — think draping yukata gowns and loose haori jackets — colliding them with brocaded fabrics, lace and utilitarian accoutrements (pockets, anyone?)


10. Koll


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by koll (@koll.official)


Koll makes clothes that conjure up bucolic scenes of main characters walking whimsically through sweeping landscapes — perhaps something to do with the wide sea views and boundless nature its creator grew up with.

Hailing from the nearby boho surfing town of Kamakura, the Tokyo designer Mayu Kusuhara believes fashion should be a part of everyday life. Influences of nature, universal femininity and clothes passed down from her mother are reflected in sweet flower prints, romantic ruched tops and sheer crepe dresses.



– – – – –

This article originally appeared on harpersbazaar.com/uk/