Salon recently toured some of Tokyo’s top salons and style makers to get the scoop on business and fashion. Plus see a video of hairstylist and Contessa winner Edwin Johnston trend hunting on the streets of Tokyo!
The stats: Director Koji Yamashita opened the salon 19 years ago and now commands a troop of 80 staff in three locations.
The vibe: The interior straddles two decks of polished concrete in the Jingumae district of the city. Dappled with quirky artwork and minimalist window displays, the shop has a sophisticated metropolitan vibe complemented by overly polite staff whisking coats to closets and offering sweet tea.
Style: “About 50 per cent of our clients get colour,” says Yamashita. “New styles include blonde and are getting very short, almost shorter than many men.” He adds they’re doing more and more razor cutting and adding texture to more clients’ hair.
The stats: “We opened 15 years ago and have grown to 8 locations,” Shima’s Yuya Nara says. “Each space is different according to what we want it to represent and what the clients might like.”
The vibe: A double-storey wall of glass on two sides floods natural light into the minimalist box of a room. Ambient bass throbs into the space through dozens of speakers lining the walls, amping up the edgy mega-posters of heavily photoshopped models on the walls.
The buck-the-cookie-cutter approach extends into every part of the salon. “Stylists here don’t have a fixed station,” Nara says. “They have their kits with them and move to where their clients sit.”
Staff dedication: Music is chosen by the staff, and everyone is encouraged to express their individuality. “But we’re also dedicated,” Nara adds. “We have two staff meetings a day, all stylists stay until the salon closes, young stylists stay to practise. Nine-hour days are normal here.”
Hair Cutting Salon Imaii
The stats: “In 1973, my wife and I started our little salon,” CEO Hideo Imai recalls. There was nothing like it and their motivation was to “make Japanese ladies beautiful.” After training with Sassoon in Los Angeles, Imai basically introduced colour to Japan and worked tirelessly to work this influential industry.
Style: “I don’t like trends,” he states. “There’s no reason to walk on the street to be noticed. Style should make a statement about you, and trends are flashy, loud.” Hideo says hair colour is heading to young people and the old. “In a short time, three-quarters of hair colour may very well be for grey hair coverage. Watch for it.”
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