I was going to call this post “a gentrification of Takeshita-Dori”, a quote that I have to attribute to a fellow Japanese fashion commentator whose opinion I value hugely, but who must remain anonymous. I didn’t, not because I don’t agree with them, I do, but because it would be easy to take that a little too negatively. Given that our respective families are all descending on the city for a certain important event next week, and they all keep talking about “seeing Harajuku” as a tourist, a task that doesn’t necessarily reward those without a personal interest in fashion, it actually occurs that a clean polished face for the otherwise dingy Takeshita-dori might not be such a bad idea. The gleaming Cute Cube that has now opened up ticks every box that a foreign or domestic tourist is likely to want ticking – you have your Sanrio store, an all you can eat desert cafe, a sweet shop that makes Kyary look bitter, and Spinns – the cheapest possible way to get a taste of Harajuku street fashion with a degree of authenticity.
These shots were taken at the official opening of the Cute Cube, so come along with us as we give you a very quick tour.
The new Spinns is like an A-Z of Japanese street trends with rock-bottom prices that aspiring street fashion stars flock to, and who there is no shame in not graduating from. As I said before, this takes the lead in the authenticity stakes over the vast majority of Takeshita shops via high profile collaborations including most recently the likes of Dempagumi.inc, that give them cold hard credibility, even if they can be quick to pull the trigger on homages sometimes.
Note the international signs, this extends throughout the Cute Cube and you can safely shop here using a portion of your native tongue, even if you might have to resort to hand language when the chips are down.
The manager and mascot – God of Spinns, still looking somewhat grumpy despite the massive success of the new shops!
Next up we have Monki from H&M which might not appeal so much for those on the hunt for specifically Japanese fashion, but has catered for the local market very well with special domestic collections and some dinky mascots.
Kyary Pamyu Pamyu fans will be delighted to know that there is a shop devoted to her musical stable – Asobi Station.
Beyond the usual line-up, you can expect limited items and I can confirm that the furry chairs and fittings are the same as used in their corporate HQ!
The all you can east Desert Cafe for those in need of a dangerous sugar fix.
And the cute sweet shop on the ground floor.
There are a couple more shops as well as the big guns I have highlighted above, but I will let you discover those for yourself.
As regards my opening comments, the conclusion I came to is that Takeshita needs a strong clean unified face to compete with the level of polish cropping up elsewhere. This lack of grime might not have the old Camden-esque authenticity, but as anyone who has been to Camden in London recently can attest to, these ecosystems are hard to balance, and when they go too far one way, there can be no going back. The Cute Cube certainly has a place on the street, and hopefully can cater for visitors for the area, while those who were always too cool for it will be prowling the graffitied backstreets – it is just not for them and doesn’t have to be.