Buying Clothes In Tokyo

By Mark Ellis

One of the most frustrating experiences for many foreigners living in Tokyo is shopping for clothes.  I envy the petit.  They can flit about the offbeat and fashionable shops of Harajuku and have the time of their lives uncovering fashion treasures.  For the rest of us, all but the most random shops in Tokyo’s cool fashion districts are a hopeless reminder of how far away from home we truly are.  There is some hope, albeit not as expressive as a Harajuku boutique.

Isetan Shinjuku

Perhaps the most foreigner friendly place to shop in Tokyo is Isetan Department Store in Shinjuku.  They offer a good variety of well-known designer brands ina wide range of sizes.  You can find everything there from the ultra posh to weekend casual.  Like all department stores their buyers tend to cater to average tastes so you probably won’t find anything too outlandish.  You will, however, be able to find everything you need to dress well.

What sets Isetan far above the rest as a haven for the foreign shopper is the special services they offer.  They have a bilingual customer service center on the 6th floor with staff ready the kindly answer any questions or concerns you may have.  They also offer English, Chinese, and Korean shopping assistants who will personally guide you on your shopping journey through out the Main Building and the Men’s Building.  On the 7th floor there are ATMs that allow you to withdraw money by using cards issued overseas.  Cards that have VISA, VISAELECTRON, PLUS, China Union Pay, Master Card, Maestro, Cirrus, American Express, Diners Club, JCB, or DISCOVER logo will be accepted.They even have a Money exchange machine on the 6th floor that provides exchange for 6 currencies (US Dollar, Chinese Renminbi, Euro, Korean Won, Taiwan Dollar, and Singapore Dollar) to Japanese Yen.

For the ultimate shopping experience in Tokyo it would be very difficult to find a more comfortable and foreign friendly place than Isetan Shinjuku.

Uniqlo Ginza

Uniqlo has managed to dominate the world with its high quality and inexpensive fashion.  This is the place to go to get the basic essentials like socks, underwear, sweats, and lounging casuals.  Quite recently Uniqlo has opened a megastore in Ginza that boasts a good range of sizes and100 employees from around the globe who are ready to help you shop in your language.

Global Fashion Brands

If money is no object then you are in luck.  You can usually find larger sizes at many of the international fashion boutiques like Tommy Hilfiger, Armani, and Gucci.  The Omotesando and Ginza areas two of the most well know spots for finding many of these shops in one location.

For those with slightly less financial freedom you can usually find decent sizes at the Gap, H&M, and Next.


Big B Shoes

Any man who wears anything larger than a size 10 will have a difficult time finding shoes in Japan.  A place that has a enormous selection of men’s shoes is Big B Shoes, which located right next to Gotanda station (Yamanote Line).  Big B specializes inmen’s footwear.  Sizes start from US10 and go all the way up to the unbelievable.  


For women who wear anything larger that a UK 5 1/2, finding a shoe store in Tokyo could be next to impossible.  Luckily there is a shop in Shinjuku called TEN that may be able to help you get a decent pair.  Although their website is in dire need of a designer TEN has a large selection of shoes in sizes UK 6 and above.


When all else fails you could take advantage of the marvelous internet age and do your shopping online.  There are many shops that do international shipping to Japan.  Here are a few of my favorites.

Ted Baker London

Blue Fly

Neiman Marcus

Victoria Secrete

Eddie Bauer

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