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Beams, the Tokyo-based fashion emporium, is on a co-branding binge to celebrate its 35th anniversary. In recent months the Japanese retailer has marked the milestone with a series of exclusive products, from Clarks Original desert boots—in Beams’ signature orange—to New Era caps with the store’s name emblazoned in block letters. Other collaborations include Oakley Frogskins sunglasses, some with navy frames and yellow lenses, and Arc’teryx multicolor nylon backpacks. Prices range from 6,825 yen (about $88) for the caps to 20,790 yen ($270) for the desert boots.
This story first appeared in the September 26, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Founded in 1976, Beams has stayed on an impressive growth track from the outset. What started as a single 213-square-foot “American Life Shop” in Tokyo’s Harajuku—is now a complex operation that comprises four companies, with dozens of stores scattered around Japan and in Hong Kong. The chain includes a seven-story department store in the Shinjuku neighborhood, as well as smaller, themed outlets such as Beams F (for “future”—forward-looking men’s wear), International Gallery Beams (“curated” fashion imports) and Beams Lights (simply styled basics). “I never thought [we’d reach 35 years],” says chief executive officer Yo Shitara, who was 25 when he opened the original store. “It’s deeply moving.”
Shitara began his venture with the goal of “changing the customs and culture of Japanese youth.” Although retail and fashion are notoriously fickle, his goals for the future are no less lofty. “I can’t even imagine 35 years into the future, but I’d like to become a business or group that can contribute to a happy life around the world,” he says.