T-HOUSE New Balance in Tokyo
As any seasoned global shopper knows, retail in Tokyo comes in an abundance of shapes and sizes. Regardless the segment or brand, the parameters of creativity and communication seem more flexible here, resulting in a continuous stream of new formats which only much later trickle down in retail landscapes overseas. Sneaker brand New Balance has recently launched a new store concept in an unusual part of the city. Interestingly, the opening of the retail space spawns from the establishment in 2012 of Tokyo Design Studio New Balance, the company’s international design unit set up in the Japanese capital because of its forward lifestyle environment. Situated in Nihonbashi Nakasu, a neighbourhood far removed from established shopping areas, the store occupies the ground floor of a 122-year old traditional ware house.
Architect Jo Nagasaka of local architecture practice Schemata was tapped to fuse the historic structure with modern elements, but actually, he took the design to a while new level. As the store is an integral part of the design studio, situated on the second floor, the warehouse has been embedded in a modern steel construction, revealing its true age to the outside world only when the doors are opened. The shop’s name, T-HOUSE New Balance, is inspired by hospitality in traditional Japanese tea houses, and since the New Balance brand is associated across Japan with sneakers only, the aim was to widen the scope by presenting it as a lifestyle brand. As such, the store presents a rotation of curated items, including the New Balance M1300JPJ which commemorates the 35th anniversary of the M1300 sneaker model, a special matcha collaboration with tea brand Nakamura, special pottery created by artist Shiho Takada and a T-shirt collection in collaboration with illustrator Takayo Akiyama.
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