To most shoppers and retail experts, including many Japanese, the name Isetan instantly conjures up images of its flagship in Tokyo’s bustling Shinjuku district. And that’s hardly surprising, as it’s widely considered to be one of the best department stores on the planet. The company hasn’t only been active on home turf, and has built a network of department stores in Shanghai, Tianjin, Chengdu, Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and as of late, also in Paris.
The outpost in the French capital opened last month on the premises of Maison de la Culture du Japon, and also premiered Isetan the Japan store, a new Japan-centric retail concept developed in collab with the Cool Japan Fund. Only a few weeks later, a much bigger version of Isetan the Japan store bowed halfway across the globe in Kuala Lumpur, replacing the Japanese retailer’s first Malaysian store and format which first opened in 1990 at the city’s upscale Lot 10 mall.
At 11,000 sqm. spread over six floors, the latest Isetan the Japan store is massive, and contrary to the smaller first venue in Paris, it’s not only able to present a wide variety of coveted Japanese merchandise, but also extensive collections. Each of the floors is themed, featuring a specific product range and unique settings. The lower ground floor is called the market, and as the name already implies, it’s where authentic Japanese food and flavours rule fierce by way of plenty of eat-in dining areas, and specialty food and grocery shops.
Mind you, there’s even a section brimming with nifty Japanese home appliances. One floor up, the museum can be found, and it’s here where fashionistas can indulge in the very best in Japanese fashion showcased in alluring settings. Some of the names to be found here are Sacai, comme des Garçons Pocket, Yohji Yamamoto, and Undercover, and very regularly there’ll be special fashion events, such as the current 1ldk Pop-Up store. Cutting-edge technology and Japanese handicraft pieces can also be found here.
Also on this floor is the studio, a section dedicated to cool streetwear can related on-trend items and brands, such as porter bags, g-shock watches and be@rbrick toys. Situated on the second floor is the room, a place dedicated to a plethora of Japanese beauty products, replete with matching beauty parlours. Up on the third floor is where shoppers are able to indulge in Japanese culture by way of a bookstore set up in collab with Kinokuniya, a full-fledged photo lounge, an art space, and a culture academy with workshops.
Inspired by all things that Japan has to offer? Well, there’s a travel agency readily available to book your trip. Each floor comes with one or more sections serving Japanese bites and/or drinks, allowing shoppers to sit back and recharge in between shopping sprees. And speaking of Japan’s culinary side: opening early next year on the premises is Isetan the Japan store’s final section. Called the table, it’ll feature an expansive floor dedicated exclusively to Japanese fine dining.