Halloween in Japan

Avantgarde Harajuku – A Peek Inside the Uber-Popular Tokyo Legwear Boutique

Avantgarde Harajuku is the most influential legwear boutique in the Tokyo street fashion scene today. You can’t walk down the street in Harajuku, attend a youth-centric Tokyo fashion party, or browse a Japanese street fashion magazine or snap website without seeing someone wearing tights from Avantgarde. That’s pretty amazing, considering that the shop has been open for less than a year. It’s hard to say why some shops explode in popularity, but much of Avantgarde’s meteoric rise can be traced directly to the vision of its owner Kazuhiro Watanabe.

Avantgarde Harajuku Staff

Born in Tokyo, Kazuhiro-san had already worked in the fashion industry in Sapporo for a decade when he came up with the idea for what would eventually develop into Avantgarde. He observed that for the most part the Japanese fashion industry was selling the same pairs of black and beige stockings over and over again. Producers in Japan, he felt, looked at legwear as akin to underwear rather than as fashion accessories. Kazuhiro believed that stockings and tights should be fashionable and fun – adding flare to an outfit and making the wearer feel happy, sexy and confident.

With the idea of bringing cool legwear to the Japanese market, Kazuhiro began importing interesting styles from America. Several years later he began creating his own designs. Thus in 2009 the “Mam Avantarde” legwear brand was born. The original designs were only available online until October of last year – when the first Avantgarde retail shop opened in Harajuku.

Avantgarde Harajuku

The Avantgarde Harajuku boutique – located near the famous KDDI Designing Studio (very close to the popular shops G2? and Nadia boutiques) – stocks its own Mam Avantgarde brand tights as well as import items and other Japanese labels. The shop’s interior is cool – with a full-size carousel horse in the shop’s center, antique mirrors, packed display cases, and paintings along the walls. The hallway walls along the stairs as you enter the shop are covered in signatures and drawings by famous Avantgarde shoppers – such as Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, Halicali, and members of AKB48.

Avantgarde Harajuku (45)

Popular Mam Avantgarde tights include their Disney collaborations, a line of graphic tights with red-hot Japanese illustrator Choco Moo, and their original tattoo tights designs. New designs and collaborations are added to the Mam Avantgarde collection every month.

In addition to legwear, Avantgarde Harajuku seeks out creative, young and independent designers of footwear, bags, accessories, and handmade fashion items. Kazuhiro-san said he employed a “head-to-toe” concept when creating the shop. You might come in for the tights, but leave with new platform boots, a handmade purse, or colorful earrings. The current – but ever-changing – list of available brands includes Music Legs, Vive Vagina, Celeste Stein, Jeffery Campbell, Tsuru, Mormor, Lanie, Algorithm, Endless, and Shojono Tomo.

Choco Moo x Avantgarde Harajuku

It would be a mistake to write a profile of Avantgarde Harajuku without saying a little about the shop’s staff. From the owner Kazuhiro-san (who actually holds the Guinness Book of World Records record for the tallest mohawk) to the she’s-in-every-street-snap-magazine-in-Japan awesomeness of Juria Nakagawa to the respected fashion blogger and party-girl Momo, Avantgarde is as much a community as it is a store. It’s not uncommon for us to pop in and find any number of well-known Japanese models, designers, or artists hanging around. More than just a place to buy cool fashion, Avantgarde has quickly become a kind of cultural phenomenon and center of influence in Harajuku.

Enjoy our pictures of the Avantgarde Harajuku shop below. If you want to see photos of people wearing their tights, see our Harajuku street snaps. If you’d like to just browse the current Mam Avantgarde collection, check out their official website.


Click any of the Avantgarde Harajuku pictures to enlarge them.

 

We send out our “Thank You” to Kazuhiro Watanabe, Juria, Momo, and the entire Avantgarde Harajuku staff. They were very kind to spend some time with us while we were working on this article, and they are always super friendly when we see them in Harajuku. We definitely recommend that you check in with them in person the next time you find yourself in Harajuku.

Here is all of the important Avantgarde Harajuku info:

  • What: Avantgarde Harajuku legwear and emerging designer’s boutique
  • Where: Harajuku, near the KDDI Designing Studio.
  • Finding It: The shop is underground, so look for the stairs with tights hanging above them.
  • Address: B1F, 3-22-7 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, Japan 150-0001
  • Phone: 03-6804-3739
  • Hours: 11:00-20:00
  • Online: Official Website
  • Online: English Pay Pal ordering instructions

 

All photos by Kira.
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About the photographer:
Born in Japan, educated in Japan and the US, Kira shoots exclusively with Canon DSLRs. Photography assignments include fashion, bands, sporting events, and portraiture for various companies and bands throughout Japan & the world. His portfolio can be viewed at Artist-Photo.

24 Comments

  1. 1.

    Laura Haslam (July 23, 2012)

    Oh God, this place looks amazing! I always wondered where street snap girls got their awesome tights! I will definitely visit here if I come to Tokyo!

  2. 2.

    Anthea (July 24, 2012)

    LOVE IT! I’m curious as to whether the tights would fit me though. I’m 170cm and quite often I find that asian stocking/tights brands are too short for me :/

  3. 3.

    Amaya (July 24, 2012)

    :( Why can’t I be there. WHY OH WHY

  4. 4.

    Chesca (July 24, 2012)

    Definitely a place i must go to when I visit Japan one day! *_*

  5. 5.

    Liza★ (July 25, 2012)

    So awesome!!!*-* I really need to go there someday!!

  6. 6.

    @anggycempaka (July 25, 2012)

    I want that Butterfly Shoes!!!

  7. 7.

    yaptus (July 26, 2012)

    Tokyo Fashion is so humble, you guys made them famous ^_______^ <3 and of course the people you street snapped wearing the brand!

  8. 8.

    BunnyMilk (July 28, 2012)

    I want to be there *O*

  9. 9.

    nagareb0shi (July 28, 2012)

    I went there last month!! Their tights are all one sized and are great quality. (^_-)-☆
    The staff is so cool and very welcoming. I even had a little conversation with Juria and Maimai to practice my japanese. When I told them that I was from France, Maimai told me some basic words she knew in french. (^.^) It was fun!
    So, definitely worth a visit if you want to shop in Harajuku! (*^_^*)

  10. 10.

    Emmah (July 29, 2012)

    Im 167-168cm so they probably won’t fit me but I love tights so much I would love to maybe work there or but all the tights/leggings and I’m 14 so I guess I’m pretty tall for my age

  11. 11.

    Harold Dodd (July 29, 2012)

    I adore Julia and Hirari and all that. I just have one question…WHERE IS THE MOKO KITTY K@TT??

  12. 12.

    SARA MARI (July 31, 2012)

    Now the real question – how much will I be spending there? haha! I love printed tights, and their designs have really boosted the trend I would guess XD

    Emmah – I am 173cm (been that height since I was 13 but stopped growing TT) and I’ve bought tights in Japan before with no problem^^/

  13. 13.

    Euri (August 1, 2012)

    I wanna go there and shop! \(*O*)/

  14. 14.

    wakomuchox (August 3, 2012)

    In Japan, I totally wouldn’t feel out of place for shopping here. It’s a place I could really branch out~~~

  15. 15.

    kundai (August 5, 2012)

    if only they have this where i live i would live in this store

  16. 16.

    xodo (August 11, 2012)

    LOOK at JAPAN’s shopping heaven!! Fxxk U CANADA! You got NOTHING!!!

  17. 17.

    pamyu~ (August 13, 2012)

    AAAAH Tights heaven is a place on earth (harajuku!!) Btw I made a tutorial how to make tattoo tights (cross / skeleton one), you guys can read it here : http://contemplated.blogspot.de/2012/06/diy-how-to-cross-tattoo-tights.html

  18. 18.

    Xue Li (August 18, 2012)

    And we need these stores in the Netherlands for reeaalll.

  19. 19.

    Monique Espinosa-Malonzo (August 20, 2012)

    My favorite leg wear!

  20. 20.

    Kelsey (August 20, 2012)

    holy shit, this is my dream store! ahhh ;-;

  21. 21.

    Emmah (August 22, 2012)

    Sara mari- thanks a lot^_^ I can’t wait to go to Japan and get these

  22. 22.

    elena (August 30, 2012)

    è favoloso il vostro negozio…..sono divine tutte quelle calze….partirei anche subito per venire a vivere in Giappone…..e sarebbe stupendo lavorare per voi..e disegnare calze e abiti…..complimenti…

  23. 23.

    ロビン (December 28, 2012)

    they sell Jeffrey campbell and awesome tights, why am i not there yet?? when i go to Japan i’ll definitely spend a whole day in that store!

  24. 24.

    Ana (July 28, 2013)

    YUSSS!

    I want them all!

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