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Get Your Japanese Vintage Clothing in Harajuku! Top 4 Shops on Tokyo's Cat Street

Get Your Japanese Vintage Clothing in Harajuku! Top 4 Shops on Tokyo's Cat Street

Date published: 24 September 2019
Last updated: 1 November 2019

Whether you love thrifting or want to nab an incredible bargain, you have to check out Harajuku’s Cat Street! Dozens of shops, cafes, and more all located within convenient walking distance. From quirky Harajuku fashions and high-end brands to vintage steals, there’s something for everyone! You can even recharge at one of the chic cafés or restaurants between shopping sprees.

As a massive fan of sustainable fashion myself, having so many great places on one street means that you’ll often find me wandering around the area. So here’s a list of my personal favorite can’t-miss second-hand stores for a great shopping experience.

In this article:
1. Ragtag Harajuku
2. Flamingo Harajuku
3. Chicago Jingumae
4. BAZZSTORE Harajuku Cat Street North Wing

1. Ragtag Harajuku: The Brand Connoisseur’s Paradise

1. Ragtag Harajuku: The Brand Connoisseur’s Paradise

Known for their high-end brands, Harajuku’s Ragtag also carries a number of unique, creative pieces by more obscure designers. These are not your average bargain-basement products, as the main focus is truly top-of-the-range brands. So, don’t go in expecting one coin prices, but there are some real steals!

Although Ragtag as a company has to make sure that all their clothes meet their high standards of quality, each branch has its own style. The clothes are all bought from customers, sent to a warehouse, and then carefully selected to perfectly suit the vibe of each store, its customers, and the trends in the area. That means that just because a piece isn’t right for this store, or isn’t in season, doesn’t mean they won’t accept it and sell it at a better time or in a more suitable branch.

The customers who sell to and buy from Ragtag are truly passionate about the brands and designers; I was told that even in the wake of the rise of fast fashion, it’s not gotten any more difficult for Ragtag to get high-end goods. Although we live in the age of second-hand shopping apps and websites, a lot of Ragtag’s customers sell to them because they really want other brand-savvy people to buy the clothes; people who know and enjoy the brand, and who will appreciate that an item wasn’t cheap!

There is an entire section at the front of the first floor dedicated to Comme des Garçons, a popular Japanese brand with both chic and creative pieces. The white floor contrasts with the area around it and draws attention to this section, which itself feels open and elegant, and somehow not at all out of place.

Despite being in the heart of Tokyo, the enormous glass front and large shop floor give the customers breathing room and make this Ragtag both spacious and stylish. According to the manager, people with an interest in architecture sometimes visit just to check out the building’s design.

There are 15 branches in total: seven in Tokyo, four in Osaka, two in Fukuoka, and one each in Aichi and Hyogo. They first opened in Harajuku in 1985, around the corner on Takeshita Street. They moved to Cat Street in 2012, partly because the original store was a bit too small. That’s definitely not an issue anymore!

The staff are as polite and professional as you’d expect of someone working in such a classy place. They are also confident and friendly enough to approach visitors and speak to them in English. With Chinese and Korean members of staff around as well, visitors from all over can shop and ask for help with ease! Ragtag even has an online store with international shipping, so the hunt for your favorite brands doesn’t have to begin and end with your trip to Japan; you can enjoy reasonably-priced Japanese and high-end fashions from the comfort of your own home!

While there may be some who feel apprehensive about buying second-hand, rest assured: you really can’t tell that these clothes aren’t brand new. Most are in mint, like-new condition, so they’re perfect for any first time second-hand shoppers. They’re also great for anyone who has wanted to get their hands on certain brands that have until now been a little too pricey!

  • Ragtag Harajuku
    • Address 6 Chome-14-2 Jingūmae, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0001
    • Nearest Station Meiji Jingūmae Station (Tokyo Metro), 4 minutes on foot
      Harajuku Station (JR Yamanote Line), 10 minutes on foot

2. Flamingo Harajuku: From Second-hand to New, and Vintage to Retro

2. Flamingo Harajuku: From Second-hand to New, and Vintage to Retro

For Flamingo, let’s first look at a bit of their background: what exactly is the difference between ‘second-hand’ and ‘vintage’? The word ‘vintage’ refers to a specific category of second-hand – or used – clothes. Vintage clothes generally date back to sometime from around 20 to 100 years ago, but definitions do vary. ‘Retro’, on the other hand, can also refer to any clothes that merely look vintage.

With that in mind, Flamingo is your go-to vintage and retro clothing store! They offer true vintage clothes and clothes inspired by vintage styles, but they don’t limit themselves to just clothes from the 40s to the 90s; they also carry a range of more modern or timeless pieces that lend themselves perfectly to a vintage aficionado’s wardrobe, such as a huge range of Dr. Martens and both fine and costume jewelry.

They offer a great selection of items for every season, and they always have over 3,000 items available. Buyers living in the United States carefully select each piece in-keeping with their theme of “Your Local Vintage Shop”. It’s not just the clothes that stick to the theme, either; the décor is unusual and quirky with a welcoming warmth. From the neon pink flamingo outside to the chandeliers and wooden furniture and decorations inside, the style of the shop manages to use contrast to create a unique vibe that really puts you in the mood to get creative!

There is also a mixture of brand new and second-hand items for sale, so there’s plenty for those who want a vintage or retro look, but also for those who prefer to buy new. The staff are super friendly, knowledgeable, and can also let you know which items are new and which are second-hand! A representative for the brand also wanted readers to know that they’ve made sure that their clothes are perfect (i.e. in great condition!) for even first time thrifters who may be hesitant to dive into the world of second-hand clothes, so feel free to drop in!

In total, there are twelve branches of Flamingo and its affiliated stores in the country: five branches of Flamingo, two “Flamingo Mabataki” stores, two “Florida” stores, and “meadow by Flamingo” in Tokyo; one Flamingo in Kyoto; and another Florida in Osaka.

This particular shop has been up and running since August 10th, 2012. An impressive four of these stores (two Flamingos, one Florida, and one Flamingo Mabataki) are within easy walking distance of one another on or around Cat Street, so there’s plenty to choose from!

  • Flamingo Harajuku
    フラミンゴ 原宿店
    • Address 〒150-0001 Tokyo, Shibuya City, Jingūmae, 4−26-28 Jankuyādo
    • Nearest Station Meiji Jingūmae Station (Tokyo Metro), 4 minutes on foot
      Harajuku Station (JR Yamanote Line), 7 minutes on foot

3. Chicago Jingumae: Your One-Stop Shop for Kimonos and Grunge

3. Chicago Jingumae: Your One-Stop Shop for Kimonos and Grunge

Next up is Chicago, which has a vintage feel that doesn’t try too hard, a vibe that’s reflected in its minimalist exterior and warmly-lit, wooden interior. As there is a total of four branches in Harajuku alone, every store has its own slightly different style of interior design to let the character of each shop shine and to keep things interesting! I feel that this Cat Street branch has had its vibe toned down, creating a perfectly mellow backdrop for the range of fashions available. Its quirky collection of clothes is definitely in-keeping with the edgy, unique Harajuku style, but it still offers plenty for people with more subdued tastes.

In fact, the most noteworthy thing about Chicago is definitely the sheer variety. Even here in Tokyo, amongst numerous second-hand shops, they claim to have the largest range of products available. That isn’t limited to clothes, either; they also offer a variety of knickknacks. There are well-known brands mixed in with vintage pieces, as well as modern, western-style clothes and a range of traditional Japanese garments from jinbei to kimono and everything in between; seriously, they have wooden geta shoes, obi kimono belts – the works!

And it isn’t just the range of types of clothes that’s impressive; they offer every color, pattern, and fabric under the sun, boasting a huge assortment of denim jackets and jeans, corduroy skirts, vibrant Hawaiian shirts, dainty day dresses, and much more! They also have a large collection of pins and patches, so you can DIY and customize to your heart’s content.

Chicago is a Japanese company that has been in business for around fifty years. At the time that they started doing business, there weren’t any stores selling second hand-clothes. They decided to set up shop in Harajuku because that’s where young people tended to gather, and then on Cat Street because of the rich culture of both second-hand and new fashions. They originally had all their western-style clothes sourced by buyers in The United States, but since they started selling kimonos, they’ve started gathering their Japanese clothes and even some western clothes right here in Japan.

There are seven branches of the store in total; six in Tokyo, and one in Kyoto. The four in Harajuku are all within close walking distance, so don’t miss your chance to check them out while you’re in town! This shop’s representative expressed that you can definitely have fun even if you don’t buy anything, so you should come and hang out for sure! The staff are friendly and will greet you cheerfully, but they will also generally let you do your thing and shop in peace unless you approach them for help.

  • Chicago Jingumae
    原宿シカゴ 神宮前店
    • Address 6 Chome-31 Jingūmae, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0001
    • Nearest Station Meiji Jingūmae Station (Tokyo Metro), 3 minutes on foot
      Harajuku Station (JR Yamanote Line), 8 minutes on foot

4. BAZZSTORE Harajuku Cat Street North Wing: Great Bargains, Brands, and Basics

4. BAZZSTORE Harajuku Cat Street North Wing: Great Bargains, Brands, and Basics

Don’t let initial appearances fool you; this BAZZSTORE is bigger on the inside than it appears on the outside, and at any rate, they pack plenty into a smaller space! There are cool graphic tees and jackets hung up around the staircase and their second floor is a surprisingly good size.

There are 12 stores in total, all in Tokyo, with their newest in Takadanobaba. They have one shop in Shibuya and two in Shimokitazawa as well, so there are a few options just a short train ride away! The Harajuku branch opened around 2 years ago, coinciding with a boom in interest in second-hand clothes. Although it’s located amongst a huge range of the expected unconventional Harajuku fashions, it also carries a lot of high street brands and more low-key fashions. However, its men’s section in particular also has plenty of graphic tees, caps, and shoes that feel right at home in Harajuku!

While there is a range of prices, I feel that it’s probably one of the most reasonably priced of all the second hand stores in Harajuku (I once found a cashmere Ralph Lauren sweater here for 900 yen!). If you dig, you can almost always find a gem or two here, and I find it hard to leave empty-handed. Generally, shopping at the end of a season is your best bet for finding a great deal (I did find the sweater at the beginning of summer, after all). However, I was assured that they always try their best to price their pieces reasonably for their customers.

Everything is bought from customers, in fact, and the shop’s representative let me know that they now offer their services buying from customers in English! The process and an explanation are available in English, and tourists won’t be paid any less; you’ll get the same amount as any other customer. So if you’ve gotten to the end of your holiday and realised your suitcase has mysteriously ended up being overweight, just bring the clothes you’re ready to part with and your passport and get some extra cash for the road!

They generally let their customers know in-person what items they’re looking for, and they always have more than one buyer working in each shop. If for some reason they can’t accept something, they will still give you an idea of how much its worth and give feedback explaining why they personally can’t take it. However, they have a pretty big range of brands they sell, so they rarely have to turn customers down.

The staff here are super chill and will let you browse in peace, but they’re always happy to help you out when you need it.

  • BAZZSTORE Harajuku Cat Street North Wing
    古着買取 BAZZSTORE原宿キャットストリート北ウイング店(バズストア)
    • Address 〒150-0001, 4-chōme−26−5 Jingūmae, Shibuya City, Tōkyō-to, Jingūmae 426 Bldg. 1F

What are you waiting for?

Everybody knows Harajuku as a hub of wacky and fun fashions and subcultures, but without a doubt, Cat Street has something for everyone, whatever your sense of style. Somewhat away from the hustle and bustle of the much larger Omotesando, but still very much in the heart of Harajuku, you can often avoid the worst of the crowds. I highly recommend spending the day window shopping or putting together an outfit to remember, and sipping bubble tea in between.

The staff at all of these shops are clearly passionate about the clothes and styles they work with, and are happy to answer any questions you may have about them. A number of the shops have English-speaking staff or services in English, so you don’t need to speak any Japanese to get around and have a good time.

Japan is not the first country I’ve thrifted in, but it is the best. It’s hard to beat the variety and quality of the clothes you’ll find here. A lot of Japanese people tend to take very good care of their clothes, and it certainly shows in their second-hand stores!

Katie Clayton

Katie Clayton

Having lived in Jamaica and the UK, Katie now finds herself most at home in Japan. She’s an English teacher and a translator with a passion for fashion, and she’s a pro at hunting down beautiful locally made products and thrifted gems. Two of her favorite pastimes include eating and relaxing at onsen – though preferably not at the same time!

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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