Vintage retail boutiques may seem a dime a dozen, but quality vintage is still hard to find. Things aren’t made like they used to be, and while many boutiques boast wide selection, the garments may not be stellar vintage, one-of-a-kind pieces: something old, well made and classic in character and style. It takes a very special eye to find these pieces. In Tokyo, though, there is a place that has a global reputation in the vintage scene. That place is BerBerJin.
Yutaka Fujihara became interested in vintage clothing in high school and aspired to work in the fashion industry from then on. The devoted denim lover’s early affair with Levi’s, Lee and Ralph Lauren played a part in inspiring his dream. In 1996, he opened BerBerJin with his vice president, Mr. Furutachi, and now he travels the world sourcing the perfect pieces for his stores in Shibuya and Harajuku. Fujihara loves shopping in Los Angeles and references Melrose Avenue for having one of his favorite vintage stores. “I think people desire to own the beauty of ‘one of a kind’ like vintage clothing,” he says. His rules for vintage are: the year it was made, the label and the rarity. He likes pieces that have a good vintage feel, but he mostly relies on what catches his eye.
It’s his love affair with denim that has ultimately made BerBerJin exceptional. The passion has also developed into an unprecedented personal book project with Levi’s. With the company’s blessing, Fujihara is creating a photography book on the amazing Levi’s 501 collection found in Japan. “I love the history of denim, and simply the feel of denim and the shade of indigo colors,” he says. BerBerJin’s success is also attributed to the quality and quantity of dead stock vintage items they carry, how fast their items rotate and how much they care for each of their customers.
To find clothes with a certain fit is part of the vintage anomaly. Clothing is not tailored like the good ol’ days either. There is so much bulk manufacturing in the clothing industry, it’s hard to find something perfect, something special. A trip to BerBerJin is like going back in time, digging in a treasure chest of wonder.