by BAB Manager Emily Downey
AS THE MANAGER of a large and busy online discussion board I am constantly amazed at the amount of helpful advice our members provide to each other. It really gives true meaning to the word community, in fact the advent of discussion boards and the internet in general has created a whole new kind of community. The discussion board I am referring to can be found on the Being A Broad website www.being-a-broad.com, which is aimed at giving a communal voice, primarily to the foreign, female population in Japan. The board contains thousands of topics (1797 to be exact!) brimming with information that ranges from finding a good doctor in Japan and safety issues for women, through to where to buy home style food, and even how and where to find a man!
One of the most popular and often-posted topics, which almost all foreign women in Japan can relate to is, ‘Where to buy clothes that fit in Japan’. Online shopping is hit and miss when it comes to buying clothes, as you just can’t get past the needing to try things on before buying. At least you can find online help and advice on where to go and buy clothing in Tokyo.
Turning to the board, one of the members asked the Being A Broad community where she could find larger sized jeans. Her ‘sisters in search’ were quick in reply, coming up with a major wide range of choices that she could make without having to leave the country.
‘Kat’ advised her fellow member in need to ‘try Marui model-sized section in Shinjuku, and if they don’t have what you want, cross the road and try Isetan’s ‘tall and large size’ department on the second floor.’ I guess one advantage of being a foreigner in Japan is that you get to shop in the ‘Model-sized’ section, making one feel tall and willowy, if only for a few minutes of shopping! Also, Isetan has the fabulous ‘I-club’, exclusively for the foreign community in Japan. With the free membership allows you to receive a monthly newsletter in English about their current specials, as well as access to an information desk with staff dedicated to helping foreign shoppers.
Another member’s answer to the ‘finding large-sized jeans’ problem was to try the U.K. retailer NEXT, which has eight stores dotted around Tokyo, in locations including such as Ikebukuro, Jiyugaoka and Odaiba. She says, ‘NEXT carry bottoms until UK size 16, and 18 for tops. Their cut, unlike Japanese jeans which are too ‘short’, fits me’. The quality of NEXT clothing seems to last and last as opposed to other brands that I end up throwing out at the end of the season.
Another member suggests the super economical and utilitarian Uniqlo as a good place to find jeans, ‘I got some from Uniqlo (I was about a US size 14 at the time). Also, if you go to the supermarkets with a department store on top, like Jusco, they often have a plus size.’
Of course, all of these stores carry a wider range of clothing than just jeans. It is even possible to buy shoes, up to 27 cms. For dresses, both day and evening, you can’t go wrong with Kookai, a very fashionable French brand, which is available all over Tokyo, including a large store in Odaiba. They are THE place to buy designer dresses for less than 20,000 yen, and their largest size is a comfortable fit for the average-sized woman.
Another well-known name that carries everything from socks, clothing and even hair accessories is Benetton, which has a huge flagship store on Omotesando.
And don’t forget the usual suspects, the ubiquitous standby GAP and its more stylish cousin ZARA. These stores offer a decent, reliable and affordable range, but as our discussion board members seem to have found, there is more to shopping in Tokyo than just these two retail powerhouses.
LISTINGS IN TOKYO
Omotesando Bldg, 4-3-10
25-10, Udagawa-cho, Shibuya-ku
2-9-17 Jiyugaoka, Meguro-ku
14-1 Shinjuku 3-chome, Shinjuku-ku
Shinjuku 3-17-19, Shinjuku-ku
www.0101.co.jp (Japanese only)
Jingumae 4-30-3, Shibuya-ku
Udagawa-cho 16-17, Shibuya-ku, Shibuya-ku