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Isetan Men’s: Tokyo’s Eight-Storey Menswear Mecca

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  • BoF Team

TOKYO, Japan — Isetan Men's is widely regarded as one of the leading menswear stores in the world. Located in Tokyo's bustling Shinjuku district, the store is part of the Isetan Mitsukoshi group, which operates department stores throughout East Asia. Isetan Men's occupies an eight-storey building wholly dedicated to menswear and offers a range of products on a scale scarcely seen across the globe.

However, the sophistication of male consumers within the Japanese market, the depth of fashion appreciation across the country, and the interest of international buyers generate an equally rare scale of demand and expectation. Thanks to high service levels and an unwavering commitment to quality, Isetan's Mens goes from strength to strength.

Hiroshi Kondo, Isetan Men’s general manager, explained the philosophy behind it all to BoF.

BoF: What defines Isetan Men’s attitude to retail?

HK: We believe that Isetan Men’s has to be a store which makes men's lifestyles richer for it. Not only Japanese or Asian customers, but customers from all over the world; Isetan Men’s would like to introduce some kind of culture to all its customers.

BoF: Who is the Isetan Men’s consumer?

HK: Our target is the man who loves fashion and has good taste for fashion. We believe that the important point for buying is not only to answer customers' needs, which is what we actually do, but also to answer the potential customer's needs. Recently our main target is not only Japanese but all Asian customers.

BoF: What is Isetan Men’s most significant achievement in the Japanese menswear market?

HK: The number of passengers getting on and off trains in the Shinjuku area is around four million per day. Isetan Men's location in the Shinjuku area is a big terminal area for business, shopping, leisure and food. Which means our store's average number of customer visits is around 60,000 or 70,000 per day. We want to make each one of these men’s lives richer through fashion. The most significant achievement is having expanded the way of enjoying fashion in each lifestyle of Japanese men.

BoF: How do you approach product assortment in such as sizeable, dedicated menswear store?

HK: Our key product is all categories, we do not focus on some special category —everything is important. Isetan Men’s is a nine-floor specialty men’s store, which has overwhelming variation of men's items, brands, and prices from the basement to the 8th floor. In order to always propose new things to customers, we have to create new products, find new items, new materials, new functions that no one has imagined yet. And we are buying items from all over the world, which gives a sense of a ‘wealthy life’ to customers. If this kind of item does not exist, we will create and propose it. We believe we can improve ourselves by creating new products.

BoF: How does Isetan Men’s merchandise so much product to so many different menswear consumers across nine floors?

HK: We organise the merchandising by set concept, each representing a scene of our customers’ daily life, with each of the nine floors of the store displaying a different scene. Specifically: international designers, creators, contemporary casual wear, authentic casual wear, business clothing. There is an increasing interest in functional comfort-wear: stretch material pants, jersey, knit jackets etcetera. We also put effort into making the Men's Accessory corner an independent space. There is increasing interest in the beauty and health category. We made the men’s cosmetics corner 10 years ago, and we feel increasing demand of men’s cosmetics year by year.

BoF: What other developments have you seen in the Japanese menswear market?

HK: The Japanese menswear market has recently become much more health and sustainability conscious. Fashion is evolving as a means of self-expression, even in Japan. Japanese men were worried about other people's opinions before, but this mindset has changed. Japanese men have learnt that they can decide their style following their own rules, and opinions.

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