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Avantgarde in Tokyo’s ‘Fashion Underground’

The cutting-edge hosiery store is nestled in the fashion mecca of Harajuku, in a basement beneath a spaghetti restaurant.

Avantgarde in Harajuku.

Avantgarde gives a new twist to the term “fashion underground.”

This story first appeared in the January 28, 2013 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The cutting-edge hosiery store is nestled in the fashion mecca of Tokyo’s Harajuku, in a basement beneath a spaghetti restaurant, on a busy strip packed with clothing stores.

Kazuhiro Watanabe launched Avantgarde as a legwear brand about two years ago, selling the tights and hosiery online, and opened the store in October 2011.

The boutique mainly sells its own brand of boldly patterned hosiery and tights featuring whimsical motifs. Styles range from the cult favorite Hello Kitty to astronauts, camouflage and brightly colored jewels. There’s also a wide selection of tattoo-simulating hosiery.

“Right now, lightweight tights, like 20-denier styles that are printed with tattoo patterns or other designs, are popular,” said store manager Momoe Kanaya.

Avantgarde also sells a smattering of other legwear brands and an array of trendy shoes and accessories from names like Jeffrey Campbell, New Era and some emerging designers.

“We’re always adding new things…we add about 10 [Avantgarde] styles per month,” Kanaya said. “This year, we plan to start making our own original clothing, starting with T-shirts. We want to continue increasing the number of original items with our brand.”