Tokyo’s Top Retailers, Harajuku La Foret Shibuya 109 Get Overhauled with New Online Avatar Features, Additional Boutique-Label Networks’ Japan Data Reveals Favorite Retail among Youth Culture Where Changes Could Capture Marketshare
The prime locations for seeing the top designs of Harajuku Girl street fashion are obviously in Harajuku”, an area of Tokyo between Shinjuku and Shibuya, and can be seen the minute you step out onto the train platform at Harajuku Station on your way to Takeshitadori -a narrow street packed with young people buying up various kinds of apparel, footwear, and accessories. Midway is a store called Takenoko that includes the Victorian or main Harajuku Girl outfits, but most of the leading-edge designs can be found on the bottom floor of La Foret mall around the corner including stores such as Angelic Pretty and Putumayo. Here there are racks of Harajuku Girl dresses, accessories, and a blurred line of Gothic, punk, and maid styles.
However there’s always been a competition between La Foret and Shibuya 109, the shopping mall located just one train stop away, which continues to attract a greater crossover crowd, particularly girls looking for the American Beyonce style. La Foret, which has always featured the latest Victorian and Goth Lolita couture dresses on the bottom floor, and unique boutiques up higher, re-opened their doors last week after a major overhaul, including adding an additional 13 boutiques and updating another 17 in what was called the “La Foret 30 Years into the Future Campaign.” Stores such as unisex T-shirt brand Laundry are among the new boutiques.
Not to be outdown however, Shibuya 109 upgraded as well, adding stores such as Re Dark and Cizare and renovating 8 existing boutiques. But LaForet has one major renovation up its sleeve which sounds familiar to what fast-fashion retailer H&M has been doing with Second Life: Launching on April 1st, La Foret will open their corresponding online store called LFH which will allow users/shoppers to create their own interactive avatars to be displayed in a user-generated blog. Basically, you can dress up your own avatar with La Foret fashion brands. Each avatar is also given a number so you can find it later and continue updating your second-life look.
Which brings us to Label Networks’ Japan Youth Culture Study and favorite retail stores among 15-30-year-olds. Last Fall”, based on a representative sampling of 15-30-year-olds in Japan, when asked “Which store do you like to shop in the most?” La Foret ranked higher among 18-20-year-olds, whereas Shibuya 109 ranked higher among 15-17-year-olds. Females clearly prefer shopping in both of these locations. Top retail locations overall however indicated that Shibuya 109 ranked 6th as the preferred store but tied for 3rd overall among females whereas La Foret ranked further down the list but was within the top 10 among females.
It’s important to see what’s going on in Japanese retail because many new concepts in shopping and retail globally often start in Japan”, including the advent of pop-retail, the popularity of fast-fashion “no-brand” stores such as Uniqlo, artist T-shirt boutiques such as Beams vintage on the backstreets of Shinjuku, and now, “genderless” boutiques featuring apparel that can cross boundaries, among other concepts. If the LFH avatar concept is to work, it could turn La Foret, the mall, not only into a favorite shopping location in Japan, but a favorite shopping “experience” globally as more people have access to create their own shopping avatars from the 30-year-old Tokyo mall.
While Tokyo youth culture is slowly moving online for shopping (using credit cards is still rather new), one thing that cannot be captured with an avatar clearly is the frenzied experience and social gatherings of shopping in La Foret and Shibuya in general. However, the connection between fashion and personal blogs, and showing off creations to friends may just be what drives the marketplace online faster, as well as into the stores for actual purchases.
For more information about Label Networks’ Japan Youth Culture Study, Japan Fashion Reports, including Harajuku Girls, contact email@example.com; (323) 630-4000 about the Premium Global Youth Culture Subscription.