On buying Japanese designer clothes

I wasn’t going to post today, but I got my clothes! So, you know…

yohji isseyhyacinth

Don’t mind the brown socks. I was wearing them to keep my feet warm and then my clothes came and I was just trying stuff on. I didn’t actually wear this today because it’s very warm out. The bottom photo is me making fun of myself wearing a turtleneck when it was already 75F outside. Z took the photos and told me to hold the hyacinth flower I cut the night before from our yard. He said he wanted a contrast color (other than my socks).

Z: You know you can’t touch any surface in this house with that outfit on. You need to just hover.
Me: Hover? I need to learn how to levitate?
Z: Yes, hover, and always hold the lint roller in your hand because otherwise you’ll be covered in Yuki hair. You probably already are.

saturday

This is the outfit I wore today and I only wore the blue shirt for when we went to a restaurant with my parents for lunch. I’m always cold in restaurants. Right now I’m just in the linen tee and my linen pants and my feet are swollen and hot because it’s hot outside. I’m about to turn on the AC. WTF weather!?

Ok, so the point of this post is to relate where I bought the above black outfit and other pieces I have from Japanese designers.

The top is Yohji Yamamoto and the pants are Issey Miyake. I got one other black top from YY I’ll wear later this week.

I buy from the following specific shops:

Rosen – Owned and run by Gracia Ventus. Her pricing is great and she’s very easy to contact and communicate with. I’ve bought 4 items from her (YY pants, YY shirt, YY skirt/pants and Sacai Luck pants) and each time she’s sent me a really nice note. I think she knows my preference now for YY based on the last note she sent me. I’ve contacted her before about sizing and she was very honest with it and even sent me photos of the garments to show me how the size could be adjusted. The clothes come in a cute rice bag (I have three of these now) and a message. This is from the latest order, which was in December ’17:

rosen

She does have a return policy where customers incur a restocking fee and must pay for shipping costs. This is a small establishment that’s run abroad so I’m not surprised by it. The last item I ordered is a little too small (a shirt) and I didn’t return it because there is a chance I may be able to wear it yet. Plus it’s gorgeous and I’m stubborn and this is a whole other story, so moving on….

I do recommend contacting her if you have any doubts at all about how the clothing might fit. She also has her own line of clothing, Rosen, she runs with a guy named Daniel (I forget his last name) and they make unisex clothing. I’ve not tried any of it yet, but from what I’ve seen it’s all gorgeous if you like that kind of thing, which I do. They make the clothes from Japanese dead stock so once the stock is out, that run for the item is done. Her blog is really awesome as well.

PLAYFUL – at Rakuten. Rakuten is a ginormous online shopping place. They have tons and tons of shops and sellers. It’s like if Amazon and Ebay had a baby – in Japanese. I wouldn’t be surprised if one runs the risk of finding fakes there, but I don’t think I’ve run into that problem. This is where I bought the above outfit and the other shirt I got today. Z also bought my Limi Feu sweater from there. While there are hundreds of sellers who have designer clothes on Rakuten, PLAYFUL has the most that I’ve seen of the Japanese designers I like. They also pride themselves on authentic items. Most of it is second hand/used with a grade system. They are exact in what defects the clothing has and even circle it and tell you what it is. It is a bit precarious to shop from the Rakuten site because the English is not so great, but if you pay attention enough you can understand it. Also, paying is a weird email two-step process. You “order” the clothes from the site and they send you an email. Then they send you another one once they’ve figured out your shipping fee and give you a link to pay with. They send another email asking you to reply with “authorized” written in the reply. If one didn’t want to buy from a site with so much Japanese text and a really weird payment system then the PLAYFUL shop does have an alternative: an eBay store called dc-playful. It’s the exact same inventory. The seller does not accept returns – so I don’t think they do at the Rakuten site either, but you are covered under the ebay return policy if the item is not as described in the listing. The difference between the Rakuten and eBay stores is the pricing. Rakuten pricing is a little lower, but you do pay a shipping fee. Ebay prices are higher because the shipping fees are included in the pricing – and then they say “free shipping!” on them. I opted for the lower priced Rakuten store and bought multiple items, which combined the shipping cost so instead of paying a built-in shipping fee for each item, I paid for each item and only one shipping fee. Shipping fees in general are $20, which is also what it is for Rosen, but it may be different depending on where you live. I do believe the prices are a little higher than they should be for the items and other sellers on Rakuten, but they do occasionally have sales.

I have also bought from the eBay shops artwearjapan and tsano2012. I’ve gotten a YY shirt and all my 45rpm clothes from those shops. Both allow returns with the customer paying for shipping. Both are good and communicative and there’s no language barrier issues that I could foresee. When I bought multiple items I was issued a refund on shipping because they combined the shipping fees into one instead of charging me a fee per item.

I have my eye on some clothes at TheReaReal but haven’t bought anything so I can’t comment on that. The same goes for Poshmark. I did ask about a YY skirt I saw on PM but the seller took forever to get back to me and didn’t even complete my request for information and then the item was sold. So, just like with any reseller, it can be a crap shoot of whether or not the experience will be good or bad.

A note about sizing: It’s also a crap shoot if you just go by the vanity size. You really REALLY need to know your specs when you buy, especially if you don’t have someone to contact to be straight up with you about it. That’s why I like ordering from Gracia. For the Rakuten order, I spent 3 days agonizing over sizing. I have a fabric measuring tape so I went and measured and remeasured and measured again clothes that I have that are similar to what I want to buy, clothes from the same designer and even myself. For the above shops, sizing is in cm (with Gracia having both cm/in). Google is your friend for getting cm/in conversion. I always have the window open next to the shop window. For designer Japanese clothes, see the super rough size chart, but this is NOT AT ALL set in stone. In fact, I’d say the sizing runs a gamut of up to three US sizes.  I’m basing this information on sizing I’ve seen after looking through hundreds of items. Many of them I see the vanity size and the cm size and think: ok, that makes sense. Sometimes, I see the vanity vs cm size and have no fucking clue where they got the measurement from or if it’s right. I’m just using waist measurements because I have the most issue with those:

size 1  = XS (anywhere from 24″ to 28″ waist, US size 0ish to 4ish)
size 2 = S (anywhere from 26″ to 32″ waist, US 2ish to 6ish)
size 3 = M (anywhere from 28″ – 35″ waist, US 4ish to 8ish)

I think I’ve only seen a size 4 once, but have no recollection on what the specs were on that. Yes, feel free to say it: these sizes are biased towards skinny people and you’re absolutely right.

Take the above sizes with a huge grain of salt because I’ve seen size 2 pants with a 35″ waist – because they were low-rise pants that fit more at the hip. So while the clothing may truly fit a US size 4 person, the waist measurements may be due to the cut of the item. If the sizing seems really odd then it’s probably cut low or maybe the waist is meant to be loose, because you know, this is weird stuff we’re dealing with. The skirt/pants I have from YY can be worn in three different ways (skirt, pants with pocket up front OR back).

 

The majority of the clothes I have bought are listed as size 1 from all the tags I’ve looked at, but I do have a size “s” for small, a size 2 and the turtleneck above is a size 3. The material is a super stretchy cotton that almost feels like polyester, but the tags read 100% cotton. With clothes that are very form fitted, I feel I would definitely go up a size to be on the safe side, like I did with the turtleneck because it fits great. I based everything on the cm size for the turtleneck and didn’t rely at all on the vanity sizing. It all really depends on what end of the size scale (in centimeters)  the vanity sizing (the 1, 2, or 3) falls under. That’s how I ended up buying a too-small size 1 shirt. Simply put, know your size in centimeters backwards and forwards. Also take into consideration the material the item is made with.  I would caution when in doubt, size up because as a general rule lots of Japanese clothes are made to the smallish side. That being said, I’ve taken lots of gambles with these clothes. Some of my pants are snug in the waist, but not uncomfortably so. Should I have bought a size 2 instead of size 1 in some cases? Most likely. I felt as though I took a gamble with the Issey Miyake pants above because those are listed as a 74 cm/29″ waist (size 1). My waist is 28″ but these pants sit just below the natural waist line, so they are snug. I bought them anyway and they do fit great because the material has some stretch to it. The material is a mix of cotton, spanx and polyester I believe. It’s extremely lightweight, which is just what I wanted – a summer black pant for the office.

I can’t afford new designer clothes from the designers I enjoy the most, but it doesn’t stop me from taking risks in buying older items from them second-hand. I spend a lot of time going over them (days) before pulling the trigger to buy. Now that I’ve got some experience under my belt I have a better idea of where I fall in their sizing system, but there may always be a surprise if I’m not careful.