We’re in Tokyo!
Well, isn’t that obvious. We’ve been planning to go to Tokyo for over a year now – last year our holiday was cancelled due to the tsunami that suddenly hit Japan. And earlier this year due to some problems with the airline.
Japan is really a world apart. Most people don’t speak English here and almost everything is written in Japanese, sometimes with translation in English, sometimes not. We’ve got some difficulties in asking directions for example – nobody answers your questions if you speak English! Moreover, people always mistake me for a Japanese – so they don’t bother speaking in English at all. The first day, it took us about ten minutes before we got to operate the Tokyo Metro ticket vending machine correctly.
But I’m not going to talk about Tokyo first – as per request from my friends on Twitter, BBM and Whatsapp, the first episode of my Lost in Tokyo Series is “Hunting Designer Stuff in Shinjuku”.
Brand fanatics? Welcome to the Paradise of Shinjuku
I love branded designer stuff. OK, you can call me shallow or whatever, I also used to think that branded stuff were not for me and simply too pretentious, unaffordable, useless. But then I had my first Marc Jacobs and then Louis Vuitton bag and I was instantly hooked. I’ve been collecting them since. And believe me, once you cross over to the other side, there’s no getting back. You will always want more and more.
So when I heard from a friend of mine who just visited Tokyo that you can find real designer stuff for so much less in Tokyo, I absolutely had to go where she went.
I don’t usually buy secondhand stuff – I like my Louis Vuitton vachetta light-colored and clean (my husband pointed out that the fakes’ vachetta don’t age and don’t develop any patina and he told me why buy authentic bags when they age faster than the fakes? OH. Men. I haven’t yet started talking about him going crazy on vintage Nintendo consoles in Akiba yesterday), but from time to time, why not? If the stuff is mint and almost like new.
Anyway, my friend had emptied all her bonus in her Tokyo shopping spree. She went there with a Japanese colleague from Tokyo, who guided her throughout the hidden treasures in Shinjuku.
She also told me an interesting story she got from the Jap colleague: the fact that these designer stuff usually come from “working” girls.
In Tokyo, it is a common thing that a girl who works also gets supported by her lovers /admirers / sugar daddies. Not only the ones working in karaokes / bars but sometimes also girls who work as shopkeepers, waitresses – well, you never know. I can understand – the three days we’ve been spending here have shown us how much Tokyo is the palace of excessive consumption even worse than Paris. Almost everyone wears designer stuff here. In the metro, on the streets, everywhere I see women and men sporting designer stuff. Clad in everything that has a name, from top to toe.
So, these girls are happy to accept men who maintain their lifestyle – buy them branded stuff, jewels, watches…but then often they get tired of the gifts or they need money or they just want something else, so they go and sell or exchange the gifts off for so much less and get something else they prefer – another model of bag, another kind of jewel, whatever – that’s how the designer stuff end up at the secondhand shops for so much less.
This kind of business could work good in Jakarta – where you see a lot of kept girls. But then again, maybe not. Indonesian kampong girls like to keep the stuff their sugar daddies buy them – afterall, not everyday a kampong girl could get designer stuff, am I right?
I, for one, know of a girl who earned merely the minimum wage but went wild and spent twice her salary, over US$ 300 in Zara and Mango when her European sugar daddy came visiting her. (OH. You get it now. For Indonesians, Zara and Mango – and soon H&M – ARE luxury. Thanks for the importers who deliberately sell them way overpriced. I almost never buy anything from them because they’re overpriced in Jakarta and being positioned too up high. Been saying it over and over again: in Europe, wearing Zara or Mango and even more H&M means you’re a student or young – nothing luxurious about it, it’s just stuff you wear everyday – while in Jakarta, it’s HIP and POSH and TRENDY! What? You don’t like Zara and Mango? Can’t afford it? You’re not cool, then!)
Anyway, girls like these abound in Jakarta as well. But they’re perhaps simply “less expensive” than their Japanese counterparts because they could be happy just by going to Zara or Debenhams. So maybe this kind of business model – secondhand shops – could work good in Jakarta but you gotta lower the standard: instead of selling Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Bottega Veneta, Gucci, Balenciaga, Hermès and the likes, you gotta sell the high street brands like Zara, Mango, Uniqlo, H&M.
I’ve strolled out too far I guess – enough about it, let’s get back to my Tokyo story.
This morning, it was raining in Tokyo so we decided the shrines and the palace were off the track and chose to go to the commercial centers instead. I opted for Shinjuku. That’s where my friend found her steals.
We got out at the Shinjuku Station, the exit next to SunRoute Plaza Shinjuku, and some fifty meters farther, I was crazed to see the first of the stores: DAIKOKUYA.
Daikokuya are small shops scattered a bit everywhere – later I also saw their signs in Ginza and in Shibuya. I got into about 4-5 Daikokuya shops today in Shinjuku and Shibuya.
Daikokuya are small shops where you can purchase and sell back designer stuff. Not only bags – also shoes, wallets, accessories, jewelries, even watches.
They price the bags at reasonable range – a small Louis Vuitton women’s wallet in monogram starts at ¥ 8,900 – which literally translates to € 89. Monogram Neverfull starts at ¥ 38,000 for ones with whose vachetta has already developed patina and Monogram Speedy (not the Speedy B like mine, though – I didn’t find the Speedy Bandoulière like mine anywhere in the shops today) starts at ¥ 15,000 for the smallest one, size 25, and ¥ 23,000 for size 30. Gucci and Prada bags start at ¥ 20,000 while the Coach bags are even cheaper – as much as ¥ 8,000 for a Poppy tote. Google yourself the real price on their website.
Daikokuya also sell men and women’s watches and jewelries. I even saw some Cartiers and Rolexes sold at ¥ 60,000 and beyond today.
Second stop after Daikokuya was Komehyo. It’s an eight-story building in main area of Shinjuku, located across the big Isetan which is literally like Printemps or Galeries Lafayette in Paris. We didn’t go to Isetan – what for? I prefer going to Lafayette next month for the mid-year soldes/big summer sale.
So, Komehyo is a paradise for secondhand stuff. All designer, all branded, all real. People don’t sell fakes in Japan, unlike in China or Jakarta or Bangkok or even Paris suburbs.
First floor – bags, perfumes and jewelries. I saw some Birkins there, priced at ¥ 220,000 to start with – I have never seen any Birkin priced so cheap – the Jakarta-based online shops on Facebook usually sell them at Rp 55,000,000 and beyond which converts to US$ 6,000 and that’s rare – very rare.
Well, not in Japan, apparently.
Komehyo is eight floors of secondhand steals. Almost everything is secondhand and so much cheaper here. Bag-wise, they have everything: from the first-tier brands such as Hermès, Vuitton, Veneta, Balenciaga, YSL, Gucci, Dior, Chanel, they also have the second-tier ones such as Kate Spade, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors, Tory Burch, Coach.
On the first floor, a Kate Spade purse was ¥ 7,900 – mint condition, Stevie Classic Stucco monogram was ¥ 10,000 something. Marc by Marc Jacobs start at ¥ 10,000 as well. Balenciaga Vélo starting at ¥ 35,000, while a Chanel Cabas Maxi 08 Series was around ¥ 70,000.
Second and third floor boast luxury watches. We saw some Cartiers and Audemars-Piguets priced at ¥ 1 millions and beyond. Fourth floor is jewelries – from Tiffany & Co to BVLGARI to whatever is Swiss and expensive.
Komehyo’s Fifth Floor
Fifth floor. Now, fifth floor is solely dedicated to branded leather goods: handbags, wallets, luggages – they even have the DISCOUNT BIN where they toss in Louis Vuittons of various standard monogram basic models starting at ¥ 25,000!! You also have some Coach and Hermès Garden Party.
See? SEE WHAT I MEAN?? I went crazy here!
Komehyo’s Sixth and Seventh Floor
Sixth floor has secondhand clothes and shoes for second-tier brands such as Marc by Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors etc. I saw some cute MJ espadrilles and flats but they’re all size 36-38. Too small for me. Prices start as low as ¥ 800 on this floor.
And on the seventh floor you have first-tier brands: Chanel jelly tongs for ¥ 5,600, Louboutin flats starting at ¥ 15,000 and endless Jimmy Choos, Manolos, Prada, Ferragamo, Miu-Miu, Gucci, Vuittons and Dior from practically the same starting price.
If you’re traveling on budget, Komehyo best stays avoided. Believe me, even the least shopaholic person will go crazy here.
Brand Off Tokyo
After we went out, we found another shop not so far from Komehyo, on the same side of the road. It’s called Brand Off Tokyo. I couldn’t take any pictures there since it’s so small and the salespeople were all looking. (It’s actually forbidden to take photos in the shops)
Brand Off Tokyo also had super cheap stuff – like a monogram Louis Vuitton Aquarelle and Dentelle starting at ¥ 30,000. Second floor is entirely Hermès – I’ve never seen so many Birkins and Kellys in my life! They have new Birkins – the most expensive one is the pumpkin orange Hermès signature color made from Ostrich leather with gold hardware and teeny mini diamonds, priced at ¥ 1,580,000.
The cheapest Picotins were about ¥ 50,000 and one I liked, Shoulder Kelly in tan leather is ¥ 200,000.
Other Small, Privately Owned Boutiques in Shinjuku
In Shinjuku you also have lots of smaller, privately owned secondhand boutiques. They are the CHEAPEST ones by far, with LV wallets starting at ¥ 3,000 – downside is, the collections are incomplete and most often are more vintage / older.
The Vuittons’ vachettas are almost always so dark already – end patina stage. But well, for that price, shut up and stop complaining already. If you want a white vachetta you have the official stores, right?
Now, are you booking the next flight to Tokyo??
Well, that’s about it – I’m glad we went to Shinjuku today. It’s going to be my must-list from now on if I go back to Tokyo.