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April 24 2014

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Nipponista Lands in New York: Finally, a Pop-Up Store That’s Worth Visiting

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Nipponista Store

Come Thursday, Dover Street Market won’t be the only conceptual Japanese-centric retailer in town—Tokyo-based department store Isetan is bringing its Nipponista pop-up to Soho. “Isetan considers New York the hub of fashion in the business sense, and their ultimate goal is to open a permanent store,” said Kohsuke Miki, the creative director of the project. The weeklong pop-up is sponsored by both Isetan and the Japanese government’s Cool Japan initiative, through which the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry aims to promote Japanese products, craft, and technique abroad.

“For more than twenty years, there hasn’t been significant [Japanese] talent that actually surpasses the talent that existed before it,” Kohsuke said. “In the eighties there was Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto, and in the seventies there was Issey Miyake, Kansai Yamamoto, and Kenzo Takada.” Kohsuke believes that Nipponista, a cuter construct of the word Japanophile, is the right first step in establishing the new guard of Japanese creative talent and design.

Nipponista

Nipponista’s 2,000-square-foot space, which debuts exclusively here, features wares from some of the heritage brands Kohsuke mentioned—there’s a vintage Yohji Yamamoto ensemble, as well as choice pieces from Kansai Yamamoto’s latest collection (he revived his brand in 2013). But a coterie of designs from five emerging talents, who were commissioned to craft clothes in traditional Japanese indigo, or “Japanese blue,” is the centerpiece. Other fashion offerings include handmade sneakers from Hender Scheme, wearable embroidery from Maison des Perles, geometric jewelry from Shihara, delicate scarves from Suzusan, and garments from Anrealage and Yoko Chan, among others. Everything in the shop—even the giant window display of a teddy bear, which was constructed with hundreds of tiny balloons by artist duo Daisy Balloon—was made in Japan.

Nipponista Store

As for the design of the space, Kohsuke was inspired by the late novelist Soseki Natsume and the duality that traditional Japanese kokeshi dolls—which have smooth cylindrical bodies and awkward, oblong-shaped heads—represent. “Sometimes Japanese things are known as really quirky or crazy,” Kohsuke mused. “Or they’re minimalist and superchic…there are always these opposing extremes.” At Nipponista, shoppers get the best of both worlds.

Nipponista will open to the public from February 6 through 13, from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Products range in price from $30 to $18,000. For more information, visit www.nipponista-isetan.com.

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