Laforet Harajuku

HarajukuLaforet Harajuku (Rafore Harajuku) is a department store and museum located in the Harajuku commercial and entertainment district of the Shibuya neighborhood, in Tokyo, Japan, on one of Harajuku's most famous intersections.

Its museum is on sixth floor and HMV in the basement. Laforet Harajuku used to be called the teen fashion mecca. It is a trend setting shopping complex, consisting of seven floors of fashion boutiques and shops, mainly geared towards girls audience.

Laforet Harajuku, a building packed with fashion boutiques, is a local landmark, while Ura Harajuku (Backstreet Harajuku), or "Urahara" for short, used to be a quiet residential area but became a hub for young designers in the 1990s. Most girls will enter this store, since it serves the ultimate trends in Japanese fashion. Be warned, as this place is really wacky and may not appeal to Western style clothing. Laforet is known for its big summer bargain sales in July and for striving to be on the cutting edge of fashion by having the exterior of the building constantly remodeled. The reference to "underground malls" in Gwen Stefani's "Harajuku Girls" may be to Laforet, which has an extensive underground shopping arcade.

The building of Laforet Harajuku curved form resembles a glowering fortress clad in aluminum siding. On the southernmost corner, a turret rises and supports a huge sign bearing the building's name. This sign is noteworthy because of how the word "Laforet" makes its way around in a circle. Instead of the illuminated letters moving, the core of the cylinder is lit up, and a cut-out stencil on a stainless steel ring turns around it. Visually, it's less obvious than the usual neon and LED signs that populate most of Tokyo's major crossings, but its unique form encourages the eye to linger, trying to figure out how it works, before moving on.

Another unusual feature of this building are its many half-floors. Usually reserved for structures like parking garages, part of this building is vertically offset, creating a rather confusing layout for the first time visitor. Because of this irregularity, there are ten floors above ground, even though they are labeled 1 through 6. That's because there is a 1.5, 2.5, 3.5, and a 4.5 floor. Below ground is even more confusing, where the levels are B0.5, B1, and B1.5. In some strange way, though, this layout actually works because Laforet isn't put together as a single cohesive shopping experience. Rather, it's like a vertical bazaar with dozens of individual stalls independent of each other.

It is a fashion and cultural landmark and the launching pad for the latest Japanese fashion trends. Apparel brands, creators and artists vie for the mark of distinction that “Launched at Laforet” provides. More than just a retail space, Laforet Harajuku includes the fully integrated Laforet Museum exhibition space, where new movements in Harajuku art and culture are born. The commercial know-how we have built up at Laforet has been put to work in VenusFort, Roppongi Hills, and Omotesando Hills. Tokyo's Harajuku neighborhood is the epicenter of all that in trendy in Japan. The nexus of that culture is the crossing of Meiji Dori and Omotesando Dori. The roads intersect on a slight hill, and the most prominent position on that hill is held by the rounded fortress known as Laforet Harajuku.

Laforet Harajuku is so often viewed as the origin of Tokyo's street and youth culture. Located at the center of Harajuku for more than 20 years, it broadcasts to the teen mass the latest in trendy fashion and hosts regular art events. Since its opening, Laforet Museum has hosted a wide range of events and exhibitions offering visitors opportunities to enjoy art and entertainment that transcend genre. The variety of cultural experiences provided by Laforet Museum has impacted significantly on the era, the city, and the people. There can be no doubt that Laforet Museum will continue to encourage new movements for new eras.

Since its phenomenally successful debut in 1978, it has been always a face of Harajuku because of their cool sense. Recently they use Nagi Noda as their art director. Laforet Harajuku shopping center and museum has established itself as the preeminent source of new fashion and culture in Tokyo's most fashionable district. In tandem with the provision of cutting-edge fashion information, Laforet Harajuku has assisted the development and future success of young fashion designers and entrepreneurs by providing them with exposure through various promotional events. Mori Building is now expanding the Laforet Harajuku concept to Matsuyama, Kokura, Niigata, and other cities throughout Japan.

Laforet Harajuku has had their renewal opening on August 25th 2006. With this renewal, 21 new shops and 23 shops were renewed. Both a men’s and women’s store have been lined up in this fashion building and is now aiming to be a place where creativity can be released. This is the first time for Laforet Harajuku to be renovated since their opening in 1978. The building is located in an area that is of walking distance from the now famous Omotesando Hills, and with increasing consumers in older age segments, this renewal came in hand with increasing their target consumers.

Laforet Harajuku 1-11-6 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3475-0411. Open daily 11am-8pm. Nearest stn: Meiji-Jingumae.

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