Six years is a lifetime in the fast-moving world of Japanese retail. Tokyo Midtown, Mitsui Fudosan’s giant, mixed-use development in central Tokyo’s Roppongi district has celebrated its sixth birthday with an overhaul of its shopping complex. A third of the retail space has been given a spring clean with 32 new shops and a revamp for 10 existing stores.
Since it opened in 2007 on the site of the former Defence Agency, Midtown has attracted 180 million visitors. Last year the development, which also has two museums, office and residential areas, a Ritz-Carlton hotel and substantial green space, pulled in 29 million people; this year they’re hoping to hit 30 million.
Mitsui looked at who was coming to Midtown (70 per cent are women) and tailored the renewal to their needs. Luxury additions include Italian leather brand Valextra and Mackintosh Philosophy Lounge but shoppers will also find casual labels, including Japanese denim and T-shirt brand 45rpm.
Mitsui sees the refurb as freshening-up rather than a transformation. “We wanted to make something good better,” says spokeswoman Tomomi Kaneko.
Q&A - Mimio Sasaki
Heroomtage Deux is Mimio Sasaki’s second store, selling Japan-made jewellery and an eclectic selection of objects and accessories. The Midtown shop features Neapolitan cameos, vintage watches and Indian silk bags.
What’s the concept behind your shop?
Its a lifestyle shop for adults, with keywords such as tradition and handcrafted, a condensed version of Heroomtage, our Aoyama shop.
Tell us about the interior.
The chandelier in the centre of the shop is by Canadian lighting brand Bocci; from a distance it looks like it’s floating in the air. The window illustration was painted live at the opening by a friend of mine, Kentaro Tanaka.
Where do you source your products?
I go on buying trips to Europe, America and Australia. 90 per cent of our jewellery is original, made in an amazing factory in Yamanashi. We carry vintage homeware and fragrance items such as perfume and soaps.
This is the first appearance at Midtown for this high-end shop for men and women. Already known for its stock of quality wearables, Strasburgo’s Midtown store has a number of exclusive lines including Lardini jackets, handmade bags by Italian label Araldi and handcrafted Edward Green loafers from England.
A low-key Tokyo label offering the kind of simple, elegant clothes women want to wear. In-house designer Toshie Matsuda and collaborator Taro Horiuchi produce pieces that are skillfully merchandised with complementary accessories and household goods from Japan and beyond. The Plain People shops also host pottery exhibitions and displays by jewellery designers and artists.
From patisseries to noodle shops, food is a key part of shopping at Midtown. Kayanoya specialises in dashi – fish stock – and vegetable stock. The company, which started out in 1893 making soy sauce, works closely with local farmers and uses no additives or preservatives. Kayanoya has a few shops and a restaurant outside Fukuoka; at Midtown, visitors can shop and eat. Here they’re serving soup and onigiri (rice balls). Eat in or take out.
Dressterior: La Boutique
Japanese labels consistently show their ability to adapt for different audiences. Established Tokyo brand Dressterior has come up with a new concept for Midtown: modern luxury for the older woman. The interior of La Boutique is clean and classic; the clothes on offer are a blend of own-label and imports including Margareth et Moi, Rupert Sanderson and By Malene Birger.
Slowear, the Italian fashion group that produces Incotex trousers, Zanone knitwear and Montedoro jackets used to be wholesale-only but has recently moved into retail. After its shop-in-shop in Marunouchi, this is the first standalone Slowear store in Japan. “It’s a dream for everyone, in Italy or elsewhere, to have a store in Tokyo,” says Slowear’s Yuichiro Suzuki. Midtown sits well with the label’s timeless pieces. “It’s a sophisticated luxury complex in a great location,” he says.