MR PORTER ‘The Japan Edit’ - Tomoki Takaso

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Discussing fashion with Tomoki Takaso is never dull. Having worked for almost a decade at famed Japanese publication Huge, Takaso turned to retail when it folded, making the most of his eye for the avant-garde by opening Velvet, a vintage store now in its fourth year of business. As part of the “Japan Edit” project in collaboration with luxury menswear retailer MR PORTER, we met up with Tomoki in Shimo Kitazawa, an area that, aside from its wealth of vintage clothing, is known for its underground music scene and hole-in-the-wall eateries /

Why did you decide to open Velvet?

While I was working at Huge magazine one of my roles was to look after the regular feature about what was cool at the time. This was always presented in a certain style with product shots but I felt this taught me to understand what is really interesting. While I was at Huge I saw a lot of interesting current labels as well as vintage clothing and I have always been into both so this was the motivation to open a store with both. I started out with Sunsea and Stabilizer along with vintage clothing then later on I added TAKAHIROMIYASHITATheSoloist, Midorikawa, UNUSED and Needles to the line up

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Can you describe your personal style?

Music played a pivotal role in the way I dressed when I was younger, I used to copy the way certain musicians dressed. But when I got a bit older I thought I needed to add a bit more originality. This when I would look at certain films I liked for elements of inspiration, although I prefer slightly older movies rather what is coming out now. Films like Drugstore Cowboy, Buffalo 66 and the like.

What’s special about Japanese fashion?

I feel there is an abundance of labels in general so this makes the market very competitive. In addition this provides the customer with a lot of options in which also creates new cultures within the fashion industry in Japan.

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What’s special to you about Shimo-Kitazawa?

I grew up not far from here Shimo Kitazawa, so this was a place I would hang out with my friends since I was a junior high school student. Having spent a lot of time here in my youth it feels very natural to me. Vintage stores are a key element of the area and as I spent a lot of time here I used to shop at all the vintage stores in the area. There is also a lot of interesting spots in terms of the music industry, live houses and bars, along with theatre and some really good Izakaya’s. While its still a small area but there is a lot of subcultures put into one area this is something I really appreciate about the neighbourhood. A lot about the area is changing at the moment which is quite alarming and creates cause for concern.


All clothing available exclusively at MR PORTER -

Words / James Oliver @jamesolver_tno
Images / Kento Mori @kentomori
Stylist / Masataka Hattori @masataka_hattori

Culture, ArtGraeme Gaughan