Although Hermès‘ ties to the Land of the Rising Sun go back as far as 1911 when a Japanese royal ordered riding gear for the imperial cavalry, it wasn’t until 1978 that three branded stores opened their doors. Indeed, still a quite early arrival compared to many other luxury brands. Needless to say, the refined merchandise of the French fashion house resonated extremely well with the style sensibilities and appreciation of artisanal craft of the Japanese, and ever since, Hermès has evolved into a fixture in the luxury domain for the majority of Japanese, boasting multiple stores and shop-in-shops in the majority of the country’s biggest cities. This omnipresence also counts for Tokyo, Japan‘s undisputed epicentre of luxury retail, but interestingly, Hermès somehow always lacked a foothold on Omotesando dori, a bustling thoroughfare and upscale shopping artery in the city’s Harajuku district dotted with glittering flagship stores. Well, that was yesterday. The luxury brand secured a location smack in the middle of this tree-lined avenue, occupying a 488 sqm. (6,329 sq.ft.) space across two lower floors of the so-called Jingumae Ota Building, a structure built in 1981 by architect Takehiro Takeuchi and known for its cube-like upper floors and contrasting base of large dark bricks.
Paris-based architecture practice RDAI, a longtime collaborator of Hermès which designed most of its stores worldwide, also redesigned these premises, encasing the façade in a striking copper-coloured stainless steel bamboo grove along the way. Upon entering the store, shoppers come across an ex-Libris insignia on the floor, a fixture in all of the brand’s stores. Advancing further into the store, various sections unfold, each presenting a section of Hermès‘ extensive collection of luxury goods. Elegant and welcoming, the settings see custom-made furnishings in light cherry wood and matching wall paneling, while dark bamboo forms the backdrop in the jewellery and small leather goods sections, all paired with terrazzo and mosaic tile flooring. Heightening the shopping experience are the artworks on display by contemporary artists François Houtin and Shoryu Honda. As a true flagship store, the range of items on offer is elaborate, including silk scarves, bags, small leather goods, accessories, shoes, fragrances and equestrian gear on the ground floor, and the full range of both women’s and men’s apparel one floor up. Especially for the store opening, the Hermès store offers a number of limited edition trophies, including a wooden bicycle, surfboards and skateboards designed in collaboration with Warsaw-based artist Jan Bajtlik, cashmere silk men’s scarves and ties designed by artist Daisuke Nomura, and a women’s scarf by contemporary decorative artist Kohei Kyomori who also designed a related window installation.
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