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Starter Pack: A guide to sneaker shopping in Tokyo

The must-visits for those must-cops

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It’s to be expected that anything done in Japan is done well and more often than not, done in a big way. And the country’s love for sneakers is no different. Whether it’s due to the sheer number of people living in the small island nation, or their well-known culture of perfectionism, the Japanese market for sneakers is one of the most enviable in the world. From obaasans (aka grandmas) sporting fresh kicks on their morning walks around Yoyogi Park to Yeezys worn as a low-key commuter shoe paired with corporate suits on the way to work, you’ll quickly realise in Japan sneakers are just as much an everyday clothing staple as they are the sign of the hypebeast. so it only makes sense that Tokyo boasts some of the best stores in the world. Whether you’re after a fresh twist on the classic lifestyle sneaker, one-off store and label collabs, or that statement pair you won’t be able to find anywhere else in the world, here’s a guide to just a handful of stores that will be able to hook you up while you’re in town.

  • Contributor: Lucy Dayman

01. ATMOS flagship store

One of the biggest and most ubiquitous names in Japan’s sneaker world, ATMOS have stores dotted all across the country’s major cities. While every ATMOS is worth a pop-in, if you have a finite amount of time, you should head straight to the flagship store in Shibuya.

Now rolling into its second decade, ATMOS has firmly established itself as a go-to sneaker destination thanks to its accessibility and general variety. If you’re a collector on the hunt for retro Jordans or something super limited, ATMOS isn’t really there for that. If it’s new release kicks for day-to-day wear at a lower to mid-range price point they’ve got you sorted – there’s no better place to start your Tokyo sneaker journey.

6-23-2 Jingumae Shibuya-ku

02. Billy's

Like ATMOS, Billy’s has a number of locations sprinkled across Japan, but it’s their tastefully minimalistic Harajuku store that’s the must-visit location for sneaker browsing.

When it comes to clothing, ATMOS’s focus is on sportswear and sneakers. Billy’s is for the more day-to-day fashion-conscious shopper and their sneaker selection reflects that. Releasing store-exclusive collaborations with Saucony and Vans last year, Billy’s is the home of where everyday wearable Japanese street fashion and sneaker appreciation collide.

6 Chome-23-7 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0001

03. ABC Mart

ABC Mart is essentially the Footlocker of Japan. Found on almost every street corner of Tokyo, these monolithic stores are all about quantity. The amount of money you’ll spend here really depends on what you want to pick up. If you’re shopping on a budget and you don’t mind rifling through what looks at times like a sneaker graveyard, then there’s a good chance you’ll discover some hidden treasures for much cheaper than almost anywhere else.

ABC Mart

04. Kicks Lab

Opening in 2007, the cavernous Kicks Lab HQ has grown into such a popular destination for sneaker fans that they’ve had to take over two separate stores in Harajuku alone. Stocking a huge array of special, limited edition sneakers and Japan-only collaborations and releases. No matter your aesthetic, you’re bound to find something special to take home.

A short walk from what could be considered their flagship store, Kicks Lab opened a second store, which focuses more on mainstream releases and sports shoes. Pricewise, Kicks Lab have every shopper covered – if you want to drop $1000 on retro Jordans or you just need a fresh pair of New Balance to soothe your weary feet. You’ll find it all in one of the store’s two locations.

Kicks Lab
4 Chome-32-5 Jingumae, Tokyo 150-0001

“PUMA × KICKS LAB. JPN SUEDE 81BASTARDS” I Available in Store. #KICKSLAB @puma

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05. Gettry

Born in Kyoto, Gettry has well and truly established itself in Harajuku’s competitive sneaker scene. And when you visit, it’s clear why. What draws people to their Tokyo home is their super chill welcoming staff, a fantastic selection of sneakers including a very healthy selection of Reebok Insta pumps in more colourways than you thought even existed.

Tucked just below street level, Gettry manages to feel intimate without being claustrophobic – visiting Gettry is like popping into your old friend’s place. When it comes to stock, it’s all about quality over quality, their carefully curated selection tends to lean towards the skate world so if it’s Vans or Nike SBs you’re after, they have you covered.

4 Chome-26-35 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0001

06. Fools Judge

Featuring adidas Bape NMDs sitting in the window and Yeezy 350 V2 Zebras adorning it back walls, this cosy, well-trodden boutique clothing and sneaker store doesn’t need to do much else to advertise. If you’ve got the cash to drop and you were on the hint for the most in-demand limited sneaker releases and Supreme apparel, you can’t miss this place. But be prepared, this place is not for the budget shopper.

Fools Judge
Tokyo, Shibuya, Jingumae, 4 Chome−3-13, B1

07. Chapter World

With 2017 marking its 21st year of existence, Chapter World has grown from a teeny 2.7m space into one of the most respected sneaker stores in Japan. Channelling a more low-key vibe than its neighbours over at Kicks Lab, Chapter World boasts an impressive variation and rotation of fresh release stock for every taste, style, and budget.

While having a healthy range of options in their current stores, Chapter World also spawned Chum Chum, a female focussed store which features sneakers, heels, and anything else your heart (or more importantly your feet) desire.

Chapter World
3 Chome-22-7 Jingūmae, Shibuya-ku, Tōkyō-to 150-0001