Edit. Tokyo landed in London's Shoreditch in spring 2016. The shop initially focused on selling fashion accessories but has since morphed into a lifestyle store, serving up niche fashion from local designers as well as an extensive range of Japanese products – from greeting cards and artists' brushes to garden shears and state-of-the-art loudspeakers. We caught up with store manager Jaime de Almeida to dig a little deeper.
Please tell us about Edit. Tokyo and its retail formula.
It's a lifestyle shop offering hard-to-find Japanese lifestyle products and unisex fashion by local designers, whose collections have a Japanese connection in one way or another. For instance, the London-based young label I and Me offers pieces in Japanese selvedge denim, while our own line of tees features custom prints by Japanese artists. We aim to offer our customers unique fashion and design, and we work directly with many of our producers so that we're able to come up with pieces collaboratively and exclusive to the store.
How do you fit in, and compete, with the stores in the area? What sets Edit. Tokyo apart?
Shoreditch is a real destination for fashion, and this is why we've decided to differentiate ourselves a little by offering Japanese products alongside our clothing ranges. Since design objects and homeware aren't seasonal, we're able to decide when and how to go on sale. Bags are good for us in this sense, too. We stock unisex, timeless bags by UK brand Alfie Douglas. The quality is amazing so they'll probably last you close to a lifetime, and the straps are multi-way, allowing you to carry them over the shoulder or as a backpack.
What defines the clothing you sell, aside from the Japanese angle that you described earlier?
The look we go for is quite minimal, but it's important that it has a directional edge as we want to be able to introduce our discerning customers to something new and special, preferably produced locally. I and Me suits us really well – they're a London-based label designing unisex, contemporary pieces with a focus on Japanese denim. Edit. Tokyo's own range of tees, sweats and hoodies are all UK-made. The tees feature custom prints by different Japanese artists and the hoodies have discrete embroidered logos in different colors. To complement this, we sell our own line of biker jackets based on classic 1950s and 1970s styles. They're available in horse and lamb leather.
What is the criterion when buying fashion for the store? Have you got your eye on any new labels?
We want to expand our clothing range and we're about to start stocking Oscar Pieros, a Saint Martins alumnus based in North London. His work is really interesting and he tends to design capsule ranges and move on, and that flexibility suits us well. There's definitely a compelling edge to his designs, which go hand in hand with our striving to create an interesting shopping experience that resonates with customers on several levels.
Speaking of individual products – what fashion items and categories sell best?
Outerwear and tops do well here. Our customers love a good sweatshirt, or a tee to wear under a jacket. There's huge competition for trousers in the area so we've chosen to focus on other things, although we have a jean from I and Me – the fit unisex and similar to a 501, with a high waist.
The store, which is designed by Casa Estudio, has a strong community feel. How have you achieved this?
The shop itself has an intimate feel with a local client base. We like to support and collaborate with young designers, even those we do not necessarily stock, inviting them to set up pop-up shops or sample sales. They can use the whole space or just a rail if they prefer – all our fixtures, which are designed by Casa Estudio’s Andres Ros Soto and Giles Round, can easily be shifted. To promote the area and generate consumer interest, we've set up a collective Instagram account – @ec2acollective – to which the shops and cafés in the area contribute with a triptychs of posts whenever they fancy highlighting something they sell or serve.
Who's the core Edit. Tokyo customer and how does he or she typically shop?
The majority of customers are creative types living and working in the area, and students from the Royal Drawing School opposite us. We find that a lot of customers pop in to buy unique gifts that they can't find anywhere else and they appreciate that we stock local fashion labels and one-off designs.
What's your take on customer service?
The customer is everything, particularly in a store like Edit. Tokyo, which relies on locals and regulars quite a bit. Our reputation is spread via word of mouth and we simply can't afford to let a customer walk out having had a bad experience due to poor service, or for any other reason. There's a story behind every piece in the shop, and it's important to share information with anyone showing an interest – a customer passing on a recommendation to a friend or colleague is the best advertising you can get.
57 Charlotte Road
London EC2A 3QT