Tokyo’s famous street fashion scene has long been powered by an ever-changing group of independent Japanese and international designers. Another force – one which has been increasing exponentially in the last decade – is Tokyo’s diverse lineup of specialty vintage and resale shops. Each of these shops (see Grimoire, Qosmos, Punk Cake, Bubbles, Spank, etc.) has its own personality and aesthetic. The owners of the most prominent Tokyo boutiques personally travel around the world, handpicking each piece to match the image which they have created for their shop.
Funktique Harajuku is a boutique specializing in handpicked 1980s and 1990s fashion. Originally founded in Fukushima (not far from the site of Japan’s 2011 nuclear disaster), the story of how Funktique’s owners ended in Harajuku is at first tragic and then inspirational (see our interview below). While Funktique has only been in Harajuku since 2012, they’ve quickly built a loyal following among some of Harajuku’s most influential street fashion kids. Elleanor recently visited Funktique Harajuku to talk to the owner and find out what it’s all about. Check out her video, then read our more detailed interview below the video.
Funktique’s co-founder Misato speaks both Japanese and English, a rare bonus for visitors to Japan who don’t speak Japanese but who would like to stop in and find out more about the shop and Harajuku’s vintage/resale scene.
In addition to Elleanor’s video, Misato was kind enough to answer a few questions about Funktique for us. Here’s Misato:
Q. What is the theme/aesthetic of Funktique Harajuku?
We select top quality 80s 90s vintage items. We do most of our buying in New York, and our shop is especially strong with Deadstock items. Our selection process is filtered through a Harajuku lens, which is inspired by street style, runway collections, popular culture, music, art and many other angles.
Q. Funktique Harajuku opened in 2012, but you’ve had a shop for much longer. Can you share the story of how Funktique end up in Harajuku?
The original FUNKTIQUE shop started out in FUKUSHIMA, Iwaki city in 2004 and it has been running for 10 years now.
In March 11, 2011, the big earthquake hit Japan and changed so much. The FUNKTIQUE store was only 20 miles from the nuclear power plant that was hit by the tsunami. Because the radiation levels were very high then, we were literally forced to temporary close the store. Our Family and staff had no choice but to move away from the city at that time. We decided to leave for Tokyo.
Actually before opening the Fukushima store my husband had been based in Tokyo as a vintage buyer wholesaling clothing to shops in Tokyo. So when we moved to Tokyo after the earthquake, many shops in Tokyo held out a hand to us.
And this motivated us to open the shop in Harajuku.
About six months after the earthquake, Iwaki city restored to its normal self and we re-opened the Fukushima store. However the rich people moved out of town fearing the radiation and the people who lost their homes due to the Tsunami started to move into Iwaki. Due to this change most of our target customer had to change and this is when we started to really think about opening a store in Tokyo. Also post earthquake we have been doing reconstruction support for the Iwaki people with support from Tokyo friends.
With many help and support from surrounding people we were able to open FUNKTIQUE in Harajuku December 2012.
Q. What does the future hold for Funktique?
It has been an year and a half since opening the store in Harajuku. When we first arrived, we didn’t have much connection with the “Harajuku” scene. Since the opening, though, many staff of nearby stores, fashionistas, and bloggers warmly welcomed us to this town. We realized that this town is made of people who purely love clothes and fashion.
From the very beginning the Harajuku people helped to advertise our store even though we didn’t know them personally yet. So we feel a deep need to give back our appreciation to the town of Harajuku.
Q. You speak English well. Does the ability to talk to visitors from other cultures offer you a different view of Harajuku?
Because of speaking English, I made many friends with foreign people, especially fashion students.
I started to realize that these people have come to Tokyo with great ambition, hopes and dreams. I really started to understand how important Tokyo, and Harajuku specifically, is to them. While the current reality Harajuku is not as vital/energetic as it once was, I feel that fashionistas from overseas are sometimes more vital and energetic and excited about it.
From the world’s point of view Harajuku will always be Harajuku and it is a dream town to them and still holds great potential.
WIth the Tokyo Olympics coming in 2020, we are willing to try our best to spread Harajuku fashion to the world and give back something to this town – just as they had helped us out when we needed it.
Thank you for answering our questions Misato – and good luck with your mission!
About Funktique Harajuku:
- What: English-friendly vintage and resale boutique specializing in 1980s & 1990s fashion
- Where: Harajuku, near Dog/Meno/Pin Nap
- Address: 3rd Floor, 3-21-22 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo, 136-0072
- Address Japanese: 136-0072 東京都渋谷区神宮前3-21-22 フィールドビル3F
- Hours: Noon-8pm Daily
- Phone: 03-6434-0987
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: Funktique Official
- Funktique Social Media: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook
- Misato’s Social Media: Instagram, Twitter