KINOKUNIYA BOOKSTORE IN NEW YORK: MARUI ONE TOKYO STREET FASHION EVENT.
Possibly my favorite place to kill a few hours is the Kinokuniya Bookstore. Even in New York, Gothic Lolita items are as rare as water in the desert; on a lucky day, you might find vintage Vivienne Westwood shoes or a few GL Bibles in a comic shop. In contrast, Kinokuniya is a tsunami of all things cute, dark, and frilly. The Japanese book chain (which has nine US locations) is overflowing with Gothic & Lolita manga and “mooks.” It is one of the only places outside of Japan that carries clothes and accessories by Algonquins, Black Peace Now, and Victorian Maiden. Now you know why I want to live there!
Kinokuniya recently opened a spacious, three-level store next to Bryant Park. When you walk in, you’ll immediately spot a wall of Gothic & Lolita Bibles – yes, there are multiple copies of every issue, including the sewing and Punk editions. You’ll also find Kera and cosplay titles among the Japanese fashion magazines. The main floor houses English translations of Japanese novels, and titles about travel, style, and Tokyo society (Gothic Lolita graces the cover of the Street Mode Book and J-Rock Groupies ).
I ignored all of the above – and ran straight to the clothes! From February 1st to the 29th, Kinokuniya is presenting a special “Tokyo Street Fashion” event with MaruiOne.jp. The Shinjuku department store (which I wrote about in this post) sent over a selection of Gothic Lolita and J-pop goodies. I hungrily attacked the four racks of dresses, cut-sew tops, blouses, and light jackets. Most of the items were by Algonquins and Black Peace Now, and priced from $50-200. One rack held skirts, dresses, and blouses from Beth by Victorian Maiden, each selling for $200-300. I also found one black Excentrique blouse, and a single Sexy Dynamite London black mesh top. The shelf of accessories was dominated by BPN and Algonquins, and included flower hair clips, skull-patterned ties, chunky shoes, purses, and knapsacks.
The staff was thankfully unobtrusive; nobody minded that I spent a very long time browsing. There isn’t a dressing room, but I was told I could use the bathroom. And so, I did a Quick Change Act: I threw on clothes, set the camera’s timer, posed for a photo, and quickly put on the next item. (I know, I’m ridiculous.) Here’s what I sampled:
Algonquins belted trench coat, around $150.
Algonquins Punk Lolita coat, around $150.
Algonquins sleeveless military dress, $100. I bought this one.
This is the Spider dress from Hong Kong that I wore that day.
Over an hour later, and I still hadn’t left the first floor. Finally, I ventured into the basement, which holds Japanese-language texts. There’s an excellent selection of adorable hobby, craft, and cooking books. A semi-circular area is dedicated to beautifully illustrated children’s books, and there are a few aisles for stationary (the pig Monokuro Boo is omnipresent).
The upper level contains manga, art /design/architecture books and magazines, and a smattering of a toys and gadgets. Quite a few people were munching away happily at Café Zaiya. I’m a fan of the jasmine green Forte tea that is served in a glass teapot, and the light Japanese snacks such as the chocolate mini-cakes.
You can see more photos of the store interior and clothes here on my Flickr. Kinokuniya is a Gothic Lolita must-visit if you’re in NYC. I’m going to pester the store until they agree to keep carrying Japanese designer clothes after the end of February!
Address: 1073 Ave of the Americas (6th Ave between W40th and 41, across from Bryant Park).
Tel: 212-869-1700 † Fax: 212-869-1703
Store hours: Mon to Sat, 10:00AM-8:00PM. Sun, 11:30AM-7:30PM
Email: email@example.com † Store map