Most people are familiar with Uniqlo – their stores have hit the Western market harder than a freight train and can be found anywhere in the world, from Europe to the US. Uniqlo’s charm is in its inexpensive, yet stylish take on fast fashion. No other chain sells such high-quality basics as Uniqlo – save for GU, which is what we’re looking at today. GU is a sister brand of Uniqlo, but it is still available in Japan only. Their prices are even lower than Uniqlo’s, but the two brands are pretty similar in quality and style. What’s more, GU stocks a wide variety of sizes (generally XS to XXL), which is great news for foreigners who aren’t exactly fond of Japan’s ‘one size fits all’ culture. That’s why GU is one of the top destinations in Japan for shoppers on a budget, as you can hardly find better deals in other stores. Let’s take a look at the top GU fashion picks you can’t miss out on:
1. Business attire
If you’re in Japan for a job interview, or you’re grinding that 9-to-5 schedule back home, you need appropriate business attire. And if you’re one of those people who can’t wait to switch to casual wear as soon as the workday is over, you probably don’t want to drop ridiculous amounts of money on button-ups and suits. GU is the ultimate destination for cheap, yet sharp-looking business clothing for both men and women. They sell shirts and pants starting at around ¥900, and blazers starting at roughly ¥3900.
2. GU DRY
The hot season is approaching, and, in Japan, temperatures tend to climb up pretty high. Besides that, Japan is ridiculously humid during the warm season, which means two things. One, frizzy hair. Two, you will sweat a lot. Pack a good deodorant. Oh, and don’t forget to drop by GU and stock up on some GU DRY pieces, which are basically GU’s line of fast-drying clothes. They’re not really lingerie, but they’re not gym clothes either, and you can easily rock the plain tops as they are, or layer them with other pieces you brought along. The line includes tops in various cuts and colors, which go for just ¥790 without tax.
Jeans are one of GU’s trademark products, as the store sells jeast starting at only ¥990 per pair. The great thing about GU’s selection of jeans is the range of cuts and sizes – you can find both trendy models like mom jeans and baggy pants, and classic, timeless ones like straight, skinny, or flared jeans. GU also stocks sizes from XS to XXL, which means a wide range to choose from compared to other Japanese brands who stock three sizes at most.
Hats are very popular accessories in Japan, both in the cold and the warm season. However, they tend to be pretty expensive, with your average mid-range Japanese brand selling hats for over ¥2000. GU is here again to save the day – they stock a lot of trendy headwear styles, from baseball caps to bucket hats, and from berets to sun hats, all retailing for under ¥2000. End of season sales can bring you even better deals, and you can find off-season styles going for as little as ¥590!
Japanese fashion is all about accessorizing, and belts/harnesses have been a raging trend for at least a couple of years now. Again, leather goods and even imitations tend to be pretty expensive for the average buyer, but GU has the solution. They have cool graphics nylon belts, leather harnesses, even the famous corset belts that you’ve seen on any Instagram model! The men’s selection isn’t too bad either, having both classic and cutting-edge pieces to choose from. Price-wise, GU’s belts retail for around ¥990. Minus the classic leather ones, which will set you back around ¥1900. Our best find was a jeans corset belt for ¥1190 in the price cut section!
6. Scarves and mufflers
Keep yourself warm during the winter with a muffler or add a chic touch to your look with a silk square scarf from GU – we guarantee you won’t be spending more than ¥1000 on either. GU’s selection of scarves isn’t that diverse, but they do somehow manage to make them look not cheap. Especially when it comes to the silk ones, which don’t give off that unpleasant plastic sheen when you bring them out in the sun. In any case, they’re a great steal, so make sure you check out the scarves section at GU.
7. Collaboration items
Japanese fashion brands often cooperate with various characters and even anime franchises to create clothes and accessories inspired by said character or anime. The problem with these collaborations is that they tend to 1) sell out very fast, and 2) be pretty expensive, depending on the brand. GU has also hopped on the collaboration train and is currently rocking Sailor Moon and Evangelion-inspired collections. While they might not be there anymore when you arrive in Japan, check out the brand’s current collaborations and see if you can find anything for yourself – as you can’t beat GU’s prices, even when it comes to collabs.
This might not exactly apply to those visiting during the warm season, but those visiting during fall and winter would definitely appreciate GU’s selection (and prices!) when it comes to outerwear. Japanese winter doesn’t exactly call for down jackets most of the time, but it’s not really leather-jacket mild either. In other words, it can be hard to bring the perfect outerwear from back home, and in case you’re too warm or too cold, you can always drop by GU. Generally, outerwear prices range from ¥1900 to ¥3900.
It can be hard to find cute, comfortable AND affordable loungewear, but GU has them all. What’s more, they have a wide variety of loungewear available – from sets to individual pieces, and from warm and fuzzy clothes to light, summer-appropriate ones. Again, you can’t beat GU’s prices, even when it comes to something as simple as loungewear. Sets go for under ¥1900, while individual pieces start at ¥790. Did we mention the carry fuzzy slippers too?
GU is one of the top shopping destinations for foreigners in Japan, especially those on a tight budget with an eye for quality and style. You’ll hardly find pieces that cost more than $40 at GU, including outerwear and shoes, so you can easily freshen up your wardrobe with a couple items without breaking the back. Or you could stock on essentials like loungewear, PJs, and lingerie. Or choose a couple accessories to top up your look. Whichever of these you’re going for, you’re sure to find at least something for yourself in a GU store!
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