Snobbishly vintage in a Tokyo hot spot

Kaori Shoji – International Herald Tribune

Kaori Shoji has long been a favorite of mine. Who couldn’t love this lede? It’s all the sweeter for me because Nakameguro was a favorite haunt of mine in Tokyo, too, two subway stops away from where we lived. I played tennis there sometimes with the boys…
TOKYO In a city where it doesn’t seem possible to be hip and laid back at the same time, a neighborhood called Nakameguro has managed to do exactly that without even trying. It’s hard to say exactly when this particular chunk of Tokyo became the mythologized epicenter for Relaxed Chic. From one day to the next, it seems, it got on the map and quietly refused to budge.
Unlike places like the Omotesando strip in Aoyama (teeming with foreign luxury brands), where Hollywood celebrity sightings are on par with Rodeo Drive, Nakameguro is full of the obscure and the snobbishly vintage. Fashion acquires an entirely new definition in the face of a pair of torn out, worn-through, stained Levis (vintage 1978), which the shop manager sleuthed out of someone’s attic in South Central Los Angeles.
And when you start congratulating yourself for combining a threadbare sweatshirt (kids’ size) with the logo “Pittsburgh Steelers,” and a 1986 Comme des Garçons skirt purchased in Nakameguro’s “Jumpin’ Jap Flash” or “Pina Colada,” you’re past help. You’re stuck, and there’s no escape.
Nakameguro, between Ebisu (home to posh foreign residences and the TOKYO — Taillevent restaurant) and Daikanyama (home to the president of Nissan, Carlos Ghosn, and the stomping grounds of Sofia Coppola) is at first glance remarkable only in its ordinariness.
There are no landmark buildings or gaudy billboards, and the shop signs are deliberately faded, small and obscure. The main street is typically Tokyo: noisy with cars and crowded with local housewives towing babies on bicycles. To the back of this street is where the Nakameguro addicts head. The Megurogawa waterway splits the strip right down the middle, and the street is hemmed in from both sides by stately old cherry trees.

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