Kabukicho: Tokyo’s red-light district, soaked in neon and populated by pay-by-the-hour love hotels, Yakuza-owned hostess bars, and countless vending machines depositing cans of Boss coffee to weary salarymen. Who would imagine that one of the city’s most influential boutiques might exist anywhere nearby? And yet, there it is: The Four-Eyed, squirreled down an unassuming alleyway filled with those aforementioned hotels. “I wanted it to be a bit hidden when I opened it,” says Keisuke Fujita, the happy-go-lucky shopkeeper and street style photographer who opened the store in late 2016. “I want people to feel special when they come to The Four-Eyed, like they’ve discovered something. It’s like treasure hunting.”
On its racks you’ll find experimental pieces from London designers like Charles Jeffrey, Mimi Wade, and Martine Rose; a tightly curated selection of vintage sportswear; and a slew of international labels unlikely to be found elsewhere in the country. (Ottolinger, Neith Nyer, and No Dress are just some of the brands The Four-Eyed has introduced to Japan.) “For me, the most important thing is the independence and individuality of the fashion designer,” Fujita adds.
The clandestine location has leant The Four-Eyed a measure of exclusivity, but choosing Kabukicho was a risk. “On the first day I thought that I’d just sit in my shop and nobody would come,” Fujita says. To his surprise, the air of privacy has worked entirely in his favor. The circle of stylists, editors, and other fashion vets who inhabit Tokyo is inherently small, so a shop like The Four-Eyed feels like a natural fit—one reason why it has become a favorite among insiders like Japanese celebrities KOM_I and Nana Komatsu and the stylist Lotta Volkova, who visits the city often.
Much like The Broken Arm in Paris and the now-defunct Colette before it, Fujita says the most important thing about The Four-Eyed is the community around it, which Fujita was able to build through the contacts he made as a photographer. “I could invite them to the shop, and it meant that I could spread it through them on Instagram or whatever. As social media continues to be more popular, influence from magazines is decreasing in Japan and there’s space for a new kind of business.”
A new kind of business it certainly is: The Four-Eyed’s Instagram feed has as many editorials and original content as you’d find on that of a fashion magazine. Better yet, everything is created by the up-and-coming creatives who orbit the shop—aspiring stylists or models can be found working the floor, producing shoots for Instagram, and networking with regulars (it’s not unusual for people in the industry to meet at the store before going out for drinks). The Four-Eyed hasn’t had a day without sales since it opened.