ChaneyBrooks Hawaii has won leasing rights among U.S. retailers to the Paradox Project, a new retail development planned for Tokyo's edgy fashion district of Harajuku. CLICK FOR LARGE
Isle firm ties into Tokyo fashion center
ChaneyBrooks is handling U.S. leasing for a project at a hot Harajuku crossroads
U.S. retailers looking to strike it rich in Japan's trendiest, most cutting-edge shopping district will need to make a deal with ChaneyBrooks Hawaii.
The company, along with partners PacRim Marketing Group Inc. and Bedrock Branding Hawaii, is in Las Vegas for the annual International Council of Shopping Centers convention pitching entrée to the Paradox Project. It is a nine-level, 123,500-square-foot retail center in Tokyo's Harajuku district.
Folks fond of following fashion fiendishly know about Harajuku, but its appeal goes beyond fashionistas like recording artist and fashion designer Gwen Stefani. Her song, "Harajuku Girls" sings about the funky, fashion-forward scene that's been around for decades.
When people travel to Tokyo, they want to see Tokyo Tower, the Imperial Palace and "you definitely gotta make a stop at Yoyogi Park and Harajuku on the weekend," said Steve Sombrero, president and chief executive officer of Chaney Brooks & Co. LLC.
The park, near the Paradox site, "is where the young people hang out," dressed in trendy or outrageous clothing or in costume, as characters in anime (Japanese animation) shows and manga (serial comics).
When complete in 2009, the building's upper floors will have views of the park and Meiji Jingu Shrine.
It is across the street from the Harajuku train station, serving more than 140,000 passengers daily.
Japan developer RECRM Research Co. Ltd. chose ChaneyBrooks, "because we have experience leasing shopping centers and because we have a reach into the United States based on relationships and experience," he said.
The company's multilingual professionals have been traveling Japan extensively. "We know, not just how to speak to them, but how to think like them," he said.
ChaneyBrooks is networking through ChainLinks Retail Advisors, a Georgia-based retail and real estate advisory group.
European couture houses Gucci, Chanel, and Dior have long had a presence in Tokyo, but they are not what Harajuku is about. Paradox is being pitched to American retailers serving the 18-to-35 crowd, Sombrero said.
He wouldn't name names but said, of the retail concepts that have expressed interest, "we have some of the hottest brands in the United States, that might even pass Hawaii and go directly to Japan."