Yesterday Tokyo Telephone opened the doors of Birthdeath in Shibuya (here if you missed it) to give you an introduction to what is one of the most important vintage shops in Shibuya, but which has until now, been largely unknown outside of its devoted clique of followers. Today we thought we would give you a closer look at the key items and visuals that define the shop and its stock, and hopefully tempt you to head inside next time you are in Shibuya.
At the doorway the blood-stained T-shirt with the dangerously sharp nailed collar can be a bit off-putting, especially next to the graffiti and flyers for underground art exhibitions, but keep your cool and head inside.
Almost every item has a story behind it that the staff are happy to let you in on, it seems that to justify its place inside, it must have some kind of locative aspect in history, in the case of the sweater below, the rank and serial number of the infantry man who it used to belong to.
The shop’s director has a certain fondness for artifacts from the UK 1980s class (and race) war when he lived in London and was very active in the Soho music scene of the time.
Of course, the fashion that accompanied those movements is well represented as well, and in being mixed, matched and confused together create some kind of new style as we saw with Qosmos. In essence, creating a new band of outsiders attracted by the romance of past battles and picking up causes that haven’t quite been resolved yet.
As I said in Part 1, music plays an important role in the shop, as you can see from the rare tape below by Koji Tano under the guise of Molten Salt Breeder Reactor (which you can get a taste of on YouTube).
Art, books and music are all very well priced with the intention of disseminating culture rather than hoarding it.
Political badges juxtapose nicely with old toys, united by a sense of lost optimism and faded glory.
Birthdeath can be found in the same line of buildings as Spank Me! in Shibuya, a short walk from the other peaks of Tokyo vintage such as Wagado, Itazura and Grimoire. Despite the slightly serious tone of the place, it is very welcoming and they will happily guide you through 1930s French riding trousers, authentic Vietnam souvenir jackets and Mod suits if you find yourself out of your depth.
Stand by for more Tokyo vintage very soon, we have so much still to show you…