I’ve been in Japan for 5 months now – that’s long enough to wear the knees out of some of my work pants (I kneel with kids all day) and for enough of my socks to disappear warranting new pairs. I’ve been on a hunt for possible solutions to my ongoing shopping dilemmas here in Japan. See – I’m in a country where the majority of the women wear a size XS to M – this makes it very hard for an American woman who is curvier than most. I’ve been actively exploring shopping possibilities since my move to Japan, but I’ve been more proactive as of late.
Japanese stores and clothing lines don’t always cater to larger women, in fact they usually don’t, which is why I’ve been seeking out more American or well known international stores. When I find an American store, I know not to get my hopes up because they won’t always carry the size that I need, which I touched on in a previous post. Here’s what I’ve found so far:
Gap – Gap is pretty popular here in Japan. The clothing styles are the same as the ones I’ve seen in the states. The prices are a little higher here but its considered a ‘foreign’ store so I wasn’t surprised the couple of times I ventured into the store. The pants vary in size from 00-10 and the shirts are XS-XL.
The Gap I visited today had not only Women’s and Men’s clothing, but they also had Baby Gap and Gap Kids.
H&M – I’ve seen H&M in several Japanese cities and it is always spilling over with shoppers. For those of you who aren’t familiar H&M is an international store based somewhere in Europe, specializing in affordable trendy clothing. The H&M stores in the States were often plagued with long lines and messy stores due to the number of people who shopped there. I went to the H&M in Dotonbori yesterday and it was a typical H&M scene with tons of people and low prices. I had specifically been shopping for parts of my Halloween costume and I was able to get a dress here for 1,000 yen, which translates to about 10 Japanese dollars. The H&M in Dotonbori had 2 stores across the street from each other: one was entirely women’s clothing and the other was a mixture of men and women’s clothing. The store offers casual clothes as well as work wear. H&M was represented on the NBC tv show Fashion Star and it caters to the hip, modern woman and man. The sizes for women range from XS-L in shirts and pants go from 0-12.
American Eagle – It was a glorious day when I found American Eagle in the Harajuku district in Tokyo. As far as I know they don’t have any other stores in Japan, but I was pleased to find this particular one when I was visiting. It seems to be the exact same store as those in the states. The sizes go up to 16.
UNIQLO – Uniqlo seems like the Japanese version of Gap: the stores are perfectly color coordinated; every store has the same items (depending on size); they can be found everywhere; the prices are reasonable. Uniqlo’s clothing ranges in size from XS-XL. It is a Japanese store so you will find tons of Japanese fashion and not all sizes will accommodate an American body.
g.u. – If Uniqlo is the Japanese Gap than g.u. is the Japanese Old Navy. g.u. is an extremely inexpensive store. It is owned by Uniqlo and so the clothing style is very similar. It’s home to the 990 yen jeans (about 10 Japanese dollars). Sizes vary from XS-XL and I am unfamiliar with pants – its a Japanese store so I haven’t even tried to squeeze into the pencil thin pants…
Uniqlo is much more common than g.u. and I’ve only found 2 locations, but I know there are more. The largest I’ve found is in the Mikage Classe Mall near Roko in Kobe.
Additional Options (I have no experience but I’ve seen or heard of them being in Japan):
Zara – I haven’t been in a Zara but I’ve seen them around Kobe. I think its a European store.
Armani Exchange – Definitely a European store. Sizes ran small in the States so I’m sure they do in Japan.
Forever 21 – I haven’t been to the one in Harajuku, but its definitely there (I walked by it). It looks like there are several locations, but the only one I’ve seen was in Tokyo.
Hollister/Abercrombie and Fitch – I see these brands everywhere here but I haven’t seen a store…. check out their website for more info.
Old Navy – Coming Soon! They are opening a store outside of Tokyo soon!
Stores that I haven’t seen but deliver to Japan:
There are a smattering of Japanese stores that may carry larger sizes, but I haven’t found anything consistent. Also, many of the stores, both American and Japanese, often carry only a few of the larger sizes, so you can’t always count on have a wide selection.