Shaking off the sadness of last year’s earthquake, new stores are opening across Tokyo this month. After the new Uniqlo and Dover Street Market projects in Ginza, comes an even bigger event in Harajuku.
The new Tokyu Plaza shopping mall opened on April 18th, on the site of the old Gap flagship. Anchored by US brands Tommy Hilfiger and American Eagle Outfitters, it boasts seven floors of fashion, lifestyle and dining brands. Designed to maximize natural light, the crystalline design features a huge skylight with rooftop garden, balconies and large windows. Fans of Aussie chef Bill Grainger will be happy he’s opened a bill’s café on the top floor, with the famous scrambled eggs and ricotta hotcakes available all day.
Cool DIY store Tokyu Hands has “hands be”, a compact version focussed on paper craft and accessories. Also recommended: Tokyo’s Tokyo, a museum-like store featuring cool Japanese design, animation goods and quirky toys. Local brands aimed at 20-something women make up the rest.
There were fears that the new mall would further damage the unique fashion character of Harajuku, given the mega stores like Forever 21 and H&M have already settled in, but the new development replaces Gap – hardly a fashion leader – and life goes on in the backstreets, undisturbed by the new power brands.