Winter Gear, Designed in Harajuku

Trends Trends & Culture - December 21st, 2009

For this post I visited Tokyo’s trendiest neighborhood: Harajuku. Whilst researching new winter products for Weekender magazine, I contacted a friend who works as a designer at outdoor product company The North Face.

Most North Face items are designed in California in the United States, but a few pieces are created here in Japan. I thought it would be really interesting to show some Tokyo-designed products and explain the thinking process behind their creation.

Harajuku is the fashion district famed for kawaii and Gothic Lolita looks, as well as upmarket new luxury brands. Located in the Shibuya ward, it has been the center of youth culture for decades.

I visited the trendy office just up the street from the North Face store to examine a couple of pieces for the latest winter season.


First off, I examined a pair of really up to the minute ‘E-Tip’ gloves. As the temperature across the northern hemisphere has dropped and people will soon be heading to the slopes of Japan, Europe and North America, this product will surely be a smash hit.


WEEKENDER: What is so special about the gloves?

“Using your iPhone or touch screen device with gloves on is nearly impossible, as normal fabric doesn’t work. We came up with a special metallic tip on the thumb and fore finger that will work in any weather condition, meaning you can text without getting frostbite.”


The cold weather in Tokyo was perfect to test the technology and it’s functional design stood up to the chilly winds of Harajuku.

Here is the glove next to a North Face branded phone holder and iPhone (actual size).


Next, I looked at a really popular Gore Tex mountain jacket. The bold contrasting red zips are totally waterproof and the sleeve has a handy clear plastic window for checking your G-Shock while on the slopes.

(Notice the masking tape and color charts for the photographer to check.)

Following on I checked out a really cool new messenger bag that combines the technology developed for mountaineering jackets with loads of functional, well thought out features.


WEEKENDER: What influenced the ‘Hex Messenger’ Bag’s design?

“The Hex Messenger bag can hold a 17 Inch laptop in a padded pocket, ideal for today’s city worker. It also uses the waterproof zip technology found in technical jackets that enables the wearer to access the inside pockets – without taking the bag off, or the elements getting in (and ruining your clients special delivery).”


The strap is industrial strength and the padded strap can hold your mobile device for easy access.


The bottom features reflective material branded with the company logo and a loop for a bike light to keep you safe as you dash to deliver that important package across town.


(The poor use of my flash here proves that the reflective fabric technology works.)

The bright colored jackets hanging in the office below are samples of the newest styles on sale in Tokyo.

Check out the store in Harajuku for a closer look at the full line of products from children’s wear to mens and womens.

For those of you outside of Japan, you can pick up selected items at any good outdoor store.

Just remember which items were designed in Tokyo!

You can also buy online here.