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A Designer’s Guide to Tokyo: With Sara Phillips

Artists and designers flock to Japan every year in search of inspiration. It’s an infinitely fascinating culture (to us, anyway!), rich with a curious cross-section of designs, from austere minimalism to playful, ball-to-the-wall maximalism (think Harijuku girls and Pachinko halls just to start!)

Our Head of Design and Strategy, Sara Phillips-Dowsett recently did Tokyo and this is her take on it.

Most Awe-Inspiring Architecture

It’s hard to go past the amazing temples when you think of iconic Japanese architecture but for me it is all about the cute minimalist houses and buildings in cute colours with colour-blocked tiles, brass panels and modern floral panels adorning the facades.

Japanese fashion stores are also next level amazing. A few of my favourites are Prada in Aoyama, designed by Herzog & de Meuron. Next to Prada there is Miu Miu and Stella McCartney that are both equally as beautiful and unique in their architecturally modern facades.

I loved walking around the streets of Omotsando, Daikanyama and Toyama. The best Japanese houses are mid-century modern in style with contemporary colouration and design. Some are candy-coloured, some are covered in miniature tiles, and some have amazing metallic wooden accents.

Designers Guide To Tokyo

Most Instagrammable Spot

This has to be the famous Shibuya crossing. I’ve never seen more people on one stretch of pavement in my entire life and I can tell you navigating this with a pram was not the easiest of tasks. I was on a mission to find the last cherry blossom trees still clinging on for dear life after the season ended four months earlier. Next time we go to Japan I would love to see the blossoming trees in full effect. It has to be one of the most iconic scenes in the world.

Coolest Fashion Store

Tokyo has one of the best vintage scenes in the world (better than Paris or NYC, in my opinion). The best Japanese fashion stores for vintage are Ragtag or Kinji. Chicago is great for vintage kimonos, while BerBerJin is great for rare designer finds.  There’s something so effortless and cool about Japanese style. Beams is a long-time fave and Curensology is a recent obsession.

What’s Trending in Tokyo

In terms of Japanese fashion trends, it’s all about elongated, textural layers. For example, a silk cami with an over-sized mohair cardigan worn over a flowing maxi skirt. Layering is definitely the key with longer lengths in both tops and bottoms. I also saw a lot of strutted bucket bags on the streets from the likes of Nico Ganni or Staud.

If Japan Was an LPD Print It Would Be:

A floral, kimono-style print with lots of beautiful, sun-faded pastel hues and lovely blooming florals.


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