For the first time in twenty years, Tokyo’s youth culture mecca Harajuku has no Spinns.
Japanese youth fashion chain Spinns celebrated their thirtieth anniversary in September 2023. The much-loved brand hosted in-store parties, sales, and special events at their shops all across the country. But there was no celebration in Japan’s capital of youth culture, as Spinns shocked their young fans by suddenly closing their last remaining Harajuku shop in late August. Instead of cheering for thirty years of fashion and fun, customers in Harajuku found themselves adrift without a single Spinns shop for the first time in two decades…
If you aren’t a Japanese teen (or haven’t been one), the name Spinns might not be familiar. Spinns is one of two brand names known by every trendy fashion-loving Japanese teen. The other brand is WEGO, Spinns main competitor. Together, these two nationwide chains control the “Harajuku style” and “trendy American casual resale” market for Japanese junior high school and high school students. They are Japan’s top two local fast fashion brands targeting exclusively trendy low-budget young people with an interest in Harajuku styles. But, Spinns and WEGO are more than fast fashion. Both specialize in cheap resale fashion as well as producing their own in-house brands, collaboration items, select items from other brands, and culture and lifestyle goods. As everything is targeted at teens, goods are cheap – with the average price of Spinns and WEGO items coming in at 3,000 to 5,000 yen ($20-$35 USD).
For kids in Japan, “Harajuku” is more than just a physical neighborhood in Tokyo. It’s an incredibly powerful brand on its own. Spinns and WEGO trade on the power of the “Harajuku” brand to sell trendy goods to teens all over the country. In some ways, Harajuku is a stronger brand in rural areas than it is to Tokyoites. For young people living far from anywhere cool, Harajuku represents the dream of a more fun and more fashionable life in the same way that Los Angeles or New York might represent a better life to an American kid growing up in rural Kansas. Spinns and WEGO (along with thousands of other brands) are aware of Harajuku’s power to inspire the imaginations of Japanese teens, so it’s critical for their business that they maintain a strong link to the neighborhood….
For the first time in 20 years, there are no SPINNS stores in Harajuku. A 5,000 word article looking at the ups and downs of one of Japan’s top cheap trendy fashion brands for teens. Includes a big list of the SPINNS Harajuku stores that have opened and closed over the last two decades (Monomania, 2.5 SPINNS, Milklim, Gallerie Tokyo, etc.) – how many do you remember?