Fabric Shopping in Japan: Liberty!

Fabric Shopping in Japan

I found this store completely by accident; I decided to walk down one side of the street rather than the other so as to stay in the shade, and, idly glancing through the shop windows, saw this:

Fabric Shopping in Japan

Of course, agonizingly, the store wasn't open for another ten minutes. So I went and browsed through a children's clothes store across the street, afraid to roam further afield in case I lost my way and couldn't make it back. I did cleverly take this picture for directional reference (the shop is at the very corner of this street and the main Nippori drag):

Fabric Shopping in Japan

When the shop finally did open (on the dot of 10 a.m., just as the sign said), I was the first one in the door — to look at this:

Fabric Shopping in Japan

and this:

Fabric Shopping in Japan

and this:

Fabric Shopping in Japan

The gentleman who was running the store when I was there was very helpful — I asked permission to take these pictures, which was originally refused … until I whipped out my handy Dress A Day business cards, after which everything was copacetic. I tried to explain "blog", but since I often have a hard time explaining "blog" in English, my hand gestures were not up to the task. So when he said "Magazine?" I said "Yes, computer magazine," and left it at that.

I ended up buying three meters of this:

Fabric Shopping in Japan

Here's the selvage:

Fabric Shopping in Japan

I am thinking that some of these patterns are Japan-only … I haven't seen them anywhere else, not on Ebay.co.uk or on the new Liberty website. And it does say pretty clearly "Printed in Japan". Does anyone know for sure?

As Liberty goes, this wasn't hideously expensive — I think it was about 2900 yen/meter, so about $29. Cheaper than Liberty in the U.S., that's for sure — if you could even find it!

I accepted a business card but am unable to read it — am posting it here for any scanlation help:

Fabric Shopping in Japan

This store is the one closest to the top edge of the card, on this little map (you can get your orientation from the train station). Worst-case, you could always print this image and give it to the hotel concierge or cab driver — that should get you to one of these stores!

Aside from Liberty, the store carried a lot of very high-end cottons — including that red and yellow French-provincial stuff that handbags are made from, whose name I always forget — and some wools and linens. I didn't spend a lot of time browsing other than among the Liberty, since I knew buying that piece of Liberty had already strained my fabric budget a bit …

While I was paying for my fabric, the clerk even offered me a piece of chocolate. This is my kind of fabric store, I tell you.

56 thoughts on “Fabric Shopping in Japan: Liberty!

  1. I can just barely read the card…the printing is fuzzy. The bold words on the left are store names: “Eregansu” (Japlish for “Elegance”), “Bakira” and “Bakira Nexto” ( aka Bakira Next). The bits below each store name are the addresses (can’t make out much other than zip code and Tokyo…rest is the Ward, and street name and number). Third line is phone number then hours on most days and hours for Sunday and holidays. Across from Bakira is a hotel “Rankuwatto” (or something like that, the 3rd and 4th charas are blurry). Oh, and the characters near the rectangle for the station are identifying “South exit”(I think – it’s hard to see) and “East Exit” (that’s the one in top right) –Andie

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  2. These shopping reports are really exciting. I love the Liberty print you’ve chosen. LOVE IT!I also like the Tomato selection that looks a bit like Orla K’s stem print. Very nice, Erin.

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  3. I’m completely jealous! :-)I’ve wanted to go to Japan since I was a kid.And fabric shopping in Japan! With chocolate!How can you beat that!

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  4. I love that print! It’s retro without being overly precious. Pretty, but kind of mod. Would look neat in yellow, orange and copper mix, as well. So, was it $29 a meter, or you got 3 meters for $29? THAT would be ULTRA fabulous!!!

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  5. Oh, my, whole floors of fabrics. I hurt just thinking about it. I wanna go! Good job on this post, BTW, neat travelog. Love your selections also. I’m thinking, how about a live computer broadcast with the cell projecting images, and then buyers could say, “3rd from left, 2 meters” or something.

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  6. Hi Erin, I have been reading here for some time – and learning sooooo much – and even tackling some resizing of patterns, better fits, and am such a vintage “junkie” now (I have even shopped some of your advertisers!)—- but a question I haven’t quite been able to understand yet – What is the uniqueness of Liberty fabric? I know it is expensive – but what makes it so special. I am not doubting that it is – just wondering why.Patti

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  7. pure awesome. can’t wait to see more pics.i keep bugging my boyfriend about a trip to japan. i plan on buying some suitcases there and filling them up with fabric, cute zakka and snacks!

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  8. OMG Erin – photo no 6, top left – that paisley fabric looks spectacular. You should have gotten that too. *loves paisley*

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  9. It’s Bakira Knit-Ya (“ya” means shop), not Bakira Next. The Hotel is “Hotel Longwood.” I lived in Japan for 11 years and was there a couple of months ago. Great fabric shopping in Shibuya and Shimo-kitazawa. Prices were indeed very reasonable at the current exchange rate! Your picks are OK to my eye, but don’t really look to me like things you couldn’t get here. Why not pick up some more traditional designs?How is it that you are able to up and go to Japan now and then? Just curious… and isn’t it awfully hot there right now?

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  10. Lucky you finding a store like that! (I’ve been lurking for awhile here. I check this everyday!)No, the French fabric she’s talking about is not toile or damask. It’s the quintessential Provencal fabric. They use it for everything there — handbags, aprons, lavender sachets, and anything else they can think of. It usually has a print of olive branches or floral designs.Like this: [url]http://www.laprov.com/laprov/Provencal%20Fabrics.html%5B/url%5D

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  11. so why can’t I find any great fabric stores like this? not to knock on Hancock and my outlet fabric stores…but I want this! any suggestions for Dallas or am I out of luck?

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  12. Heh. Ask not for whom the belle toiles, eh, Erin?I am very happy for you. Chocolates and fabric. Yes, very happy indeed. And only a very teensy bit … wistful.Thank you, by the way, for being kind enough to take pictures of all the different kinds of Liberty fabric they have. I know that your own taste is a little bit outr, a trifle whimsical, and utterly charming; thank you for taking pictures for those of us who are a little more pedestrian, and who have room in our crotchety hearts for the old Liberty classics, and some straightforward florals. Yes, I would have wiped them clean of some of those florals. However, if that’s a Liberty camouflage print I spy, I would have to have some of that, too, Just Because.I’m glad you’re having so much fun!Nada, Erin’s there for work; she scampers to the stores on her free time, like the rest of us. Only most of us aren’t doing it in Japan. If you go down an entry, it tells more about what she’s doing in Japan, professionally.OOOoooOOhh! You know, Japan’s not the only place Erin travels, folks. It’s possible to have Erin sightings in LOTS of places. Let us know, Erin, we’ll take you shopping!

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  13. Whoops, I meant to sign my name up there at anon 5:07. Completely off topic (well, it’s about a dress, so not too off). Erin – I just completed my first dress from a vintage pattern (circa late 40s), and I’m so hooked! See how you inspire us!JenGren

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  14. Provencal! That’s it! Thank you, my brain was going to be worrying over that little gap all day. I *did* think about buying more traditional fabric while I was in Japan, but I know myself well enough now to know I’d never sew with it … and the last thing I need is more fabric that I’m not going to sew with (the next-to-last thing I need is more fabric, period, but hey …)

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  15. Me while reading this post: “Oh god. Oh god! OH GOD!”My boyfriend, on the other side of the room: “Are you orgasming over those Liberty prints?”I hadn’t even told him I was on your blog yet!

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  16. Here is a complete translation of the card, courtesy of a crazy number of years living/studying in Japan (though not even close to 11!):EleganceAddress: 5-33-10 Higashi Nippori, Arakawa-ku, Tokyo, 116-0014Phone: 03-3891-8998Weekday hours: 10am-7pmSunday and holiday hours: 10am-5pmPakiraAddress: 6-58-5 Higashi Nippori, Arakawa-ku, Tokyo, 116-0014Phone: 03-3891-8990Weekday hours: 10am-7pmSunday and holiday hours: 10am-5pmPakira Knit-yaAddress: 6-75-5 Higashi Nippori, Arakawa-ku, Tokyo, 116-0014Phone: 03-3891-8988Weekday hours: 10am-6:45pmSunday and holiday hours: 10am-5pmDirections from the Nippori Station on the JR line are as follows:-exit at the South exit (there will be signs in English), and proceed straight down the road immediately to your right.-if you see a Mitsui Sumitomo bank building (green and white), you are going the wrong way.-after the first stoplight, you will see the Hotel Longwood on your right. Pakira should be on your left.-proceed approximately two more blocks down the street to see Pakira Knit-ya.-pass one more stoplight, cross one street, and you will find Elegance on your right.Erin, you make me miss Japan too much! I hope you were able to escape the stifling heat and humidity, and that Sapporo was beautiful…that fabric you found is unique and lovely!

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  17. *sigh* It’s a little frustrating that it costs more to make a “simple cotton dress” out of the Provencal fabrics than it would be for me to buy a fully silk-lined silk dress (new) from Jones New York. And a pretty dress, at that. The Jones dress, on sale, is half what it would cost to make the cotton one.Fair’s fair. I’d love to buy reissues of some of the floral and “bizarre” toiles de Jouy, and they were more expensive than many silks when they were first created.

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  18. Thanks so much for the detailed post on where to find Liberty in Japan – so exciting! There are lots of fabrics in Hong Kong (no Liberty that I have seen) if you are headed this way.Thanks from a long time reader.

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  19. sew wonderful! I constantly drool over liberty prints but have yet to bite the bullet and plunk down the cash. yay for you!

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  20. I love that fabric! I especially love the one in the window on the bottom shelf under the Liberty fabric sign. I will now obsess over finding it. Gee thanks, Erin.

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  21. Could someone please answer Patti’s (fourkid) question? I’ve been wondering the same thing. Liberty just looks like quilting fabric to me.

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  22. Liberty lawn is a very fine lawn, tightly woven from the best quality cotton thread; the prints are precisely printed. The weave is so fine and tight that even though the fabric is remarkable lightweight, it barely frays. It’s amazing fabric to work with.

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  23. This looks like heaven to me…I bought a smidgin of Liberty at Josephine’s Dry Goods in Portland, OR a few years ago and haven’t used it yet. The hand is incredibly, amazingly soft. My Liberty stash fits in a shoebox (I am a quilter and make pieced clothing); my best friend has, um, a larger stash, that fits in a large plastic tote. Yes, I’m envious! (But this is the ratio for all types of fabric we own in common…)

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  24. The company has 3 shops. Starting from closest to Nippori JR station there is Pakira which sells mostly cotton prints. I have never bought anything there – there are so many other shops that sell cotton prints closer to home. A bit further down the road on the same side of the street is a small tidy shop on just one floor called Pakira Knit. Unsurprisingly this sells knits. They are generally quite good quality and mostly solid colours.Then further down, on the other side of the road, not so far from Tomato is Elegance. This is again quite small but spread over 3 floors and houses some spectacular fabrics. The have some unusual knit prints, designer fabrics etc. This is the place I am most excited to visit in Nippori. The fabrics are certainly expensive there. Last time I was there I did find a fabric I had seen elsewhere for less.On the same side of the road as Elegance and a bit closer to the station is another really nice store, run by a different company called Kawahara, medium size and spread over two floors. I don’t usually find much to buy in Tomato despite its size, although it can be good for picking up an essential since they sell some of everything. I think Kawahara is more fun to explore. Maybe Tomato it is just too big but I think most a lot of the fabric there is not that great quality, or particularly special, and being such a slow stitcher I like to use good quality fabrics! If you are planning on visiting Nippori leave plenty of time to explore the smaller shops! There are a huge number of them!See: http://www.netlaputa.ne.jp/~nippori/map/map.html

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  25. Score! and Score! First the orange bandana fabric (I tried to post on that thread but blogger was hating on me) and now this. You lucky duck.(heavy sigh)And just as a completely off-topic aside: there are currently a couple of motorcycle cops outside my flat with the radar guns busting speeders (it’s about freaking time).Motorcycle cops with their long, lean physiques in those uniforms – the jackets, tight pants, and boots….good visual! good visual! good morning!

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  26. I remember the store “Pierre Deux” always a hit for the preppies among us, the purses, the linens, the duffels…alas I believe they are no more. Lots of Provencal prints there.Japan is amazing and the fabric stores are great.

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  27. Hi there! Speaking of Liberty shops, please tell me you’ve have the fun of experiencing the SECRET Liberty shop in London. No, no, not the main one on Regent Street. I’m talking about the SECRET Liberty shop. Where the fabric is often half price. I wrote about it on my blog, here: http://www.knittingjenny.com/liberty.htm I hope you get the chance to go there someday. It’s fun. Liberty fabric is my all-time favorite.Jennywww.knittingjenny.com

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  28. Heya Erin, I just spotted that Liberty print here in Melbourne (Clegs in the city, for the locals’ reference) and couldn’t spot any markings on the selvedge. Might have been hidden in the roll. Anyway, it’s AUD$50 a metre – YEOUCH!

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  29. Oh, Erin – that Liberty print is gorgeous and the colours are wonderful. Well bought! I am sooooo envious :-I havent seen that pattern before, now I will be hunting for it … Is it Tana Lawn? I wonder what its name it? I guess it could be an Austral/Asian special print – I wonder … as the Liberty Japan website shows so much more of the modern Tana Lawns compared to Liberty.co.uk. Even though the new UK site will now allow purchasing online, it is still only a selection of the classic prints – not the modern ones 😦 For anyone that wants to see more Liberty prints, here’s a few more links: (NZ) Christabels, (US) Purl Soho, (Aus) Calico Ivy, (UK) Shaukat Fabrics, Oh, how I love Liberty prints … one day I’ll make myself a Swatch Wall with some of my favourites 🙂

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  30. How funny that we were both in Japan at the same time and didn’t even know it! We took out 18 year old daughter as a high school graduation present — she was born there, moved back to the US when she was 1, and has always wanted to visit. We were in Tokyo, Tateyama, Kamakura, Kyoto, then Tokyo again between July 31 and August 7. Fantastic (though beastly hot).

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  31. The fabric you bought is named Tink and was in the latest release Liberty winter range. I have the pink in store and it is YUM!Maybe you were thinking of specific fabric brand names in relation to the french provencal fabrics you saw. Two are Les Olivades and Souleido, both are manufactured in the south of France. Sounds like a dreeam holiday in Japan – wish I was there.

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  32. Great site. I am a wholesaler of Japanese textiles, based in Osaka. I am curious why you found some of the Liberty designs only in Japan and now in their UK stores. Liberty is a UK based company, I would assume they would send their designs for printing in Japan and have it sent back to them.

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  33. hi all. I am from Shaukat fabrics in UK. Our website is: http://www.shaukat.co.uk. The design above is called Tink and the design number is: Tink 03638290 in 4 colors A,B,C,D. It is liberty print and the same print are printed in Japan, but remember they are nt the same quality. the UK products is much better quality. Anyway just wanted to help all and give them right information. However if you need any more information about any fabric, please do not hesitate to contact me on: info@shaukat.co.uk. Just came cross this blog and thought I should write to lovers of liberty fabrics.thanks all.

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  34. thanks! will definitely visit there in a few days….getting excited and scared of the thought buying too much fabrics and not enough yen!

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  35. It’s pakira, not bakira. Here’s their website
    http://www.eleg.co.jp/pakira/index.html

    Phone number is on the bottom of the website. Address in English would be
    6-58-5 Higashi-Nippori, Arakawa-ku, Tokyo 116-0014 Japan

    The big yellow button goes to their shopping site, which has not cloths but catalogs of liberty prints.

    – A random trespassing bilingual samaritan

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