Louis Vuitton, Gucci open boutiques in Ginza

Image courtesy of Louis Vuitton
Louis Vuitton’s renovated flagship shop building along Namiki-dori avenue in Tokyo’s Ginza district

I wrote in this column in March that Hermes opened a new flagship shop along Omotesando avenue in Tokyo on February 28. As if to vie with the brand, Louis Vuitton renovated and reopened its boutique along Namiki-dori avenue in the Ginza district in Tokyo on March 20, followed by Gucci, which opened its second Ginza store facing Sony-dori avenue on April 29.

While the fashion industry in Tokyo is struggling under the third state of emergency declaration, these high-end fashion houses are implementing aggressive policies for their stores, as if the industry’s plight is irrelevant to them. Of course, the coronavirus crisis has had impacts on LVMH, which has Louis Vuitton under its wing, and Kering, which manages Gucci as well, and decreased their sales and profits. Yet they have a big enough profit cushion, and most luxury brands are doing well in China, where the novel coronavirus was contained first.

The openings of the prominent shops in Omotesando and Ginza amid the pandemic seem to be a big investment for the time when the crisis is over. As far as the consumption of luxury products in Japan from now on is concerned, those fashion houses must place their hopes on men and women around 35 years old, who started working during the economic slump after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, and current students, who will start working after graduation. These young people tend to freeze or cower when it comes to consumption. The newly opened or reopened shops seem to represent the brands’ strong intention to let them know how wonderful luxury brands are.

I was particularly amazed at the renovated Ginza Louis Vuitton boutique, which was designed by Jun Aoki with an interior by Peter Marino. I had not felt such amazement since I saw the Prada shop in Tokyo’s Minami-Aoyama area, designed by Herzog & de Meuron.

A dichroic glass film used on the exterior gives the new Louis Vuitton building a dynamic appearance, producing infinite color variations depending on the angle and amount of light. The futuristic appearance is sure to grab the hearts of younger people.

Image courtesy of Gucci
The Gucci Namiki building in Tokyo’s Ginza district

Gucci Namiki is the brand’s second streetside shop in Ginza. It used to be only Chanel and Louis Vuitton that had two streetside shops in the district. Now Gucci has joined them.

The new Gucci Namiki shop embodies the creative visions of Alessandro Michele, the creative director of Gucci since 2015. A maverick talent, he has brought the street luxury trend to the fashion industry, and now Gucci’s customers are the youngest among those of major high-end fashion brands.

Right now, only the first and second floors of the new Ginza shop are open. The third floor, Japan’s first reservation-only salon for customers buying custom products, Gucci Apartment, and the fourth floor, the three-Michelin-starred restaurant Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura, will duly open in autumn or later.

Namiki-dori avenue is where the Sun Motoyama fashion store started selling Gucci products for the first time in Japan in 1964. Sun Motoyama, which supported the luxury brand business in Japan in its dawn, filed for bankruptcy in September 2019. The avenue has seen numerous overseas brand stores open and close.

Now that the avenue’s store lineup includes Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Chanel, what kind of rise and fall stories will develop?

Akira Miura

Miura is a journalist and a former editor in chief of WWD Japan.