Retail therapy: Fashion outlets in battle to fight fatigue

You wouldn’t necessarily think that now that foot traffic is on the rise in Tokyo’s retail hubs in the countdown to the holiday season, but consumers don’t seem to be that eager to open their wallets right now. While many fashion retailers have been forced to focus on survival around this time last year, they are now looking to make some gains from the long-promised “rebound” market analysts predicted.

However, flat sales in the wake of rising commodity prices are making it difficult for department stores to offload the luxury items they usually thrive on, especially with hordes of foreign tourists still stranded out of the country.

Isetan Shinjuku and Nihombashi Mitsukoshi have stepped into the void, offering an I’m Green campaign that could help consumers justify these extravagant purchases. The campaign is effectively a second-hand shopping service for fashion and other luxury items that focuses on recycling and sustainability. It is obviously a laudable goal, were it not that such a change has already occurred some time ago in the youngest segment of the market.

More interestingly, the second-hand retail service is the first of its kind to be offered in a Japanese department store. Major second-hand fashion franchises like 2nd Street boast hundreds of outlets nationwide, and the fact that even high-end department stores are starting to embrace the concept indicates a real change in strategy.

Of course, consumers will naturally be cynical about a campaign promoting sustainable consumption organized by retailers trying to sell them goods. However, Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings says the campaign was successful in its first month of operation, which suggests that the store has read the market right and is providing a service that people really need.

The I’m Green service is now available in-store, with plans to process online purchases in the future.

The Beams Women Harajuku Vintage Mix Collection promotion runs until December 26th. | BEAMS

Fashion retailers may also lower their prices in an effort to attract customers, but making fewer profits on each item won’t help outlets get involved, and the tactic could just as easily damage a store’s reputation. Instead, it’s best to bring a unique selection of items that have a relatively low value to a store and make them available to customers with less purchasing power.

Beams Women Harajuku is trying to adopt such a tactic, offering a wide selection of vintage fashion items at a fraction of the price of the new items in store.

The Vintage Mix Collection promotion runs until December 26th.

Beams has launched a virtual shopping experience as part of the virtual market 2021. |  BEAMS
Beams has launched a virtual shopping experience as part of the virtual market 2021. | BEAMS

A number of shoppers are still somewhat wary of venturing into crowded retail environments due to concerns over the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

To reach these customers, Beams has also launched a virtual shopping experience as part of Virtual Market 2021, offering winter garments focused on classic revival designs from the 1970s and other eras that you can watch in a virtual preview or with a avatar. Designed by HIKKY, the men’s and women’s looks retail for ¥ 3,000 each (including tax).

The gift of giving

If you’re on the hunt for gifts for someone special this season, the shops are currently filled with perfectly adequate Christmas collections from famous designers like Vivienne Westwood and Yohji Yamamoto.

If you’re looking for something a little different, though, Milk’s And Cloud – the same group that owns some of the country’s biggest fashion jewelry brands at the moment, Ete and Jouete – might be worth a look.

And Cloud offers a range of jewelry that is both ethical and genderless.  |  AND CLOUD
And Cloud offers a range of jewelry that is both ethical and genderless. | AND CLOUD

And Cloud aims to be ethical and genderless, and also manages to deliver a layered chain aesthetic that doesn’t seem in danger of falling out of style.

The retailer also accepts optional donations to environmental programs, which makes purchases much more meaningful.

Coming from such a big player in the Japanese fashion jewelry industry, it clearly marks a shift in values.

And Cloud is currently only available online.

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