Day-after-day we have been in Tokyo and walked down Omotesando Hills, there could be an extended queue on a rail close to the metro station.
We assumed the queue was for some hype-driven ‘drop’ of streetwear, and to be truthful more often than not they have been. However these affected person Japanese have been there for a store based by a now-dead silver craftsman, the primary Japanese to be allowed to take part in an American Indian Sundance ceremony.
Goro Takahashi died in 2013, however in his lifetime he turned a legend for his Indian jewelry and leatherwork. He began in 1956 and arrange the Omotesando store in 1972, and the look he popularised nonetheless persists in the present day – it’s the identical feather-dominated jewelry you see in lots of workwear shops.
The explanation there’s normally a queue outdoors his store is that the jewelry (now made by a staff run by the household) is simply out there there; he by no means wished any stockists. Mockingly this implies shopping for a bit is much like buying a hype model: it is advisable to queue, be a part of a raffle, and may solely purchase one every.
Goro’s mismatch of demand and provide has created that very same dynamic, regardless that the thing of need is ok jewelry quite than a cheaply made T-shirt.
As a substitute it’s in regards to the classic eyewear supplier and jeweller Solakzade, who occupy the 2 flooring under.
I point out Goro for context, as Solakzade are the one different tenants allowed within the terracotta-painted constructing that Goro acquired within the Nineties, when he was underneath strain to maneuver out of the more and more commercialised district. It’s a level of religion to Solakzade that they work underneath Goro’s blessing.
I first met the founders Ryo and Tatsuya Okamoto 4 years in the past, when Kenji Cheung of Bryceland’s briefly launched me (he’s a giant buyer). And to be trustworthy I discovered them fairly intimidating.
They each are likely to put on giant, daring sun shades, a number of forms of jewelry, and clothes they design themselves – typically religiously impressed. Their father was a buddhist monk, their mom a Christian, and people traditions come by way of within the store in addition to how they costume.
It seems the brothers are completely pretty, nonetheless – simply quiet, and intense. This time we had an hour speaking by way of their ardour for sun shades and hand-made jewelry, and it was frankly inspiring.
The store may be very private, in a number of methods. Ryo and Tatsuya designed it themselves and even constructed elements of it, together with the massive carved doorways on the primary flooring. Inside, they’re eager to take lots of time with every buyer, studying what makes them tick and what piece would swimsuit their character.
“Eyewear and jewelry was once rather more private, designed particularly for the person,” says Tatsuya, who does many of the speaking and whose English is taken into account, cautious.
The brothers each discuss issues like getting the shopper “to open their coronary heart”, or that the ensuing piece “turns into like an amulet, one thing protecting”. This might sound woolly, even phoney, however while you meet them you are in little doubt: they’re utterly honest and take what they do very significantly.
It’s additionally onerous to argue with the outcomes. Somebody like Kenji, who quantities to an obsessive collector of eyewear, reveres them, and regardless that they hold a low profile (maybe even due to that) the likes of Kanye West and Kate Moss are regulars. Bob Dylan was due within the day we visited.
“We do wish to cater to everybody, each character and style,” says Tatsuya. Worth is clearly a barrier, as frames begin at £300 and run into the 1000’s, however additionally they consider solely sure kinds swimsuit sure folks – college students, artists, professionals.
“Some folks put on these large frames that don’t swimsuit their character or their face,” he says. “It takes time to stroll by way of the design historical past and see what works.”
In my small means I agree, having tried many kinds through the years and made numerous errors. Individuals are likely to assume they’ll put on a a lot wider vary of glasses (even sun shades) than they’ll. See articles on Bonnet analysing my frames or the worth of fine recommendation.
The shadowy Solakzade area – filled with gold mirrors and seventies chandeliers – is actually a historical past of 200 years of eyewear, starting from Nineteen Forties Ray-Bans to futuristic Philippe Chevalier kinds, uncommon Cartier designs to rose-tinted Nineties Gaultier frames.
Tatsuya’s favorite interval is the Nineteen Sixties: “It was the purpose at which the basic turned to the trendy,” he says. “There was lots of power then, everybody attempting new issues.” Once more the phrase ‘power’ comes up so much when discussing each glasses and jewelry, however you understand what he means, certainly while you begin speaking in these phrases you may really feel it within the designs – how delicate or dramatic they’re, how conservative or unique.
The jewelry is extra expressive and private nonetheless. Once more that is one thing I’ve all the time thought of jewelry (which might be why I bear in mind him saying it…).
Jewelry must be particular, even distinctive. It was once made for somebody on account of an interplay with a craftsperson, and in that means is extra akin to a tattoo than a bit of clothes.
Like a tattoo you put on jewelry shut, subsequent to the pores and skin, and males’s jewelry is commonly hidden. It doesn’t make sense to comply with a vogue or have the identical as everybody else.
“There may be a lot symbolism in jewelry,” says Tatsuya. “Some folks used to put on a centipede, for instance, as a result of it’s an animal that can’t transfer backwards – it’s about by no means with the ability to retreat or surrender.”
The jewelry a part of Solakzade is a bit more latest, based 5 years after the eyewear. It’s additionally rather less accessible, though the brothers have just lately began making their very own: “We wished to practise the craft, not essentially to promote however to know them from the within,” says Tatsuya.
One result’s the gold earrings under, which each the brothers have been sporting. Every is hammered by hand into totally different however comparable permutations, in 24 carat gold.
Like Goro’s, Solakzade’s classic eyewear just isn’t one thing that may be simply accessed, as it is advisable to go to the store. The one straightforward means to purchase into it’s by way of the items they make for Bryceland’s – the Winston and Politician kinds. (Winston under on me.)
Nonetheless, I do know lots of readers have been asking about suggestions for locations to go to in Tokyo and this would definitely be one in every of mine. Some retailers must be locations, similar to Bryceland’s was once earlier than London, earlier than e-commerce.
At the least there’s no queue or raffle system for Solakzade, but.
Solakzade: 4 Chome-29-4 Jingumae, Shibuya Metropolis, Tokyo. Opening hours are 2pm-7pm.