Having gone on and on about the joy of customising your own clothes the other day, I thought I would follow that up by pointing out an alternative for those who want to delegate that chore to someone else. While I would say that it is nearly always more satisfying to do it yourself, there are a good number of specialised designers in Japan who can probably do a better job than you ever could! Your main hub of this is the decadently dilapidated Kitakore building in Koenji (post on that soon), but my personal favorite is the select-shop Dog in Harajuku.
For me the real reason to buy an re-made or customised clothes is because the re-designer has added their own personal aesthetic to the clothes that in some way make it transcend its original origin. Read on for a flavor of Dog Harajuku’s work – if you need a reason, then I can tell you that ol’ Lady Gaga is also fan.
Beyond the mess of Takeshita Doori you enter the wonderful little lanes that “are” Harajuku and if you wonder round for more than 20 minutes you will probably trip over the entrance to Dog, marked as it is by an always extravagant mannequin –
Now while this may look like some kind of cyber club-wear shop, it is definitely worth a visit no-matter what your fashion persuasion. Not only because the inside of the shop will blow you away (it doubles as a live venue), but also because half of the stock is legitimately art in its own right. Needless to say seeing as it is on the more extreme end of style, most of the buyers are stylists, but there is plenty sold at a fair price for the cool kids of Harajuku to get involved with.
Most of the stock is re-made vintage, but there are a nice number of untouched designer pieces and selected wares. When I was last in there I saw quite a bit from punk king – Charles of London hanging next to Roberto Cavalii, so it is always worth a dig, you literally never know what you will find. For example –
Re-made Prada boots. Words fail me!
Killer stud work on the arms. Given that those studs are about 1000 yen for 5 at Tokyu Hands, there is some serious money in that jacket, not to mention the perfect placement.
Great messed up look, replete with heavy gauge body jewelery.
Hmmm, condom inlaid jacket? You might have lost me here, one for the stylists maybe… But this has got to be the only shop in the world where you can actually buy this kind of stuff.
Finally some of Dog’s signature eye-wear. Unwearable but undeniably awesome.
Now I have waited till the end of this post to tell you the best thing, all this Dog gear has all passed through the hands of the owner and designer of the brand. This is a one man operation, and you can regularly find the man himself at work when you pop into the shop. I think it is this kind of down to earth personal relationship that stops Dog from being an exclusive intimidating place, that and the prices are equally down to earth.
All in all, while I know that few will actually ever buy anything from this kind of shop beyond some small accessories or a party / clubbing outfit. It is nevertheless an inspirational experience to go and be challenged and hopefully leave with a great idea and the confidence to resurrect an old piece from the back of your wardrobe and bring it back to your fashion life.
At the very least Dog is one shop to simply enjoy, and a little reminder me of how Harajuku used to be.