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T0K10, Rotterdam. The wabi-sabi aesthetic of Tokyo in streetwear and avant garde clothing

Owner and founder Joep Jongen drew influence from the now shuttered down concept store Colette, in Paris. It assisted in shaping the ethos of the store – accessible fashion for the masses

T0K10, Rotterdam – Japanese Ethos in The Netherlands

«On the 18th of November marks the fifth-year anniversary since we first established T0K10, Rotterdam. The store is an homage, a love letter even, to Tokyo and the fashion that has since been translated to an audience away from Japan. My intention to curate T0K10 was to allow the individuals around me to be immersed in it for themselves», shares owner and founder Joep Jongen. When he had formatted the physical structures to T0K10, Jongen put forth the idea in mind to plateau design accents that were not native to the environs of Rotterdam, and in extension, Europe.

Jongen shares that design language to clothing ware from Paris based fashion houses like Yves Saint Laurent and Chanel, for instance, differed to designers like Yohji Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo’s Comme Des Garçons. Jongen states that the breath in design differs – where Japanese designs offer modern-minimalist and avant garde aesthetics that are the antithesis to the styles from the west. He adds that the business and corporate people of Japan, while dressing in formal attire, add clothing pieces, like Hermès ties that accentuate their demeanor.

«Fashion in Tokyo is varied from the Western segment of the world. Japanese designers and consumers have been able to plateau their identity through the clothing pieces they wear». While Jongen holds an adoration for Japanese clothing ware and accessories, he elucidates the assiduity of Western fashion labels mimicking the essences of Japanese artistry into their store designs in Japan.

As an example, he states that French fashion house Louis Vuitton garnered traction over time within the community of fashion cognoscente in Japan. Jongen states that Japanese consumers have an eye and admiration for designer goods. This and their ability to intertwine varied design aesthetics into their identity have allowed for a form of self-expression that is dissimilar to those in European countries. 

Lampoon Interview: T0K10 and its Juxtaposing Interest in Rotterdam 

Having this in mind, Jongen, who visited Tokyo on holiday while he was nineteen came back to Rotterdam with the intention of replicating the crux of the fashion culture he had experienced. With the assistance of an investor, Jongen worked to structure T0K10’s physical space in Rotterdam at twenty-four. «When we first began in 2016, the store was backed by a financial investor, and I ran the store by myself. Over the years, my investor and I parted ways and I took on the role of managing the store with the assistance of my co-workers».

Jongen, an Utrecht native who relocated himself to Rotterdam, pursued a degree in urban planning and architecture. He shares that while his educational pursuits do not reflect his interests that lie in fashion, his time spent in Japan went in parallel to his penchant for Japanese design and creations. «The designs of buildings and historical monuments varied to those in the Netherlands. I was enamored by this». At the time of his time of studies, Jongen partook in a gap year to gain experience in the work field. Having taken on a role at a fashion retail outlet where he rose in rank – Jongen was rewarded the role of being a buyer for the retailer.

The owners of the retailer, as Jongen shares, entrusted him with seeking out up-and-coming designers while replenishing the stores’ stocks of clothing and accessory items from brands they were in partnership with. «My time spent at the retailer led me to Paris Fashion Week over the span of a few years, as the role of a buyer. It was this pivot and familiarity in this business that led me to founding a store that plateaued designers that were not of European background». 

T0K10 – The Brand and Its Identity

The name, T0K10, as Jongen elucidates, is a derivation of the environs in Rotterdam. The combination of letters and numbers create a symmetry that evokes the name of the city it is based on while occupying an essence of Rotterdam. The replacement of the vowels in the typeface of the brand to numbers brings forth the area code of the district they are situated in. «The inhabitants of the city employ the use of area codes of the districts they live in to identify themselves and the subsets of groups around them».

Jongen goes on to explain that the replacement of the vowels in the name T0K10 held better meaning in the Dutch language as spelling out the word ‘Tokyo’ varied in English. The store’s physical location of Van Oldenbarneveltstraat, which falls under the area code of ‘010’ was affixed into the vein of the business, explaining the desired juxtaposition intended by Jongen. Having affirmed his ardor for fashion and design upon his visit to the city of Tokyo, Jongen drew influence  for T0K10 from the now shuttered down concept store Colette – a space he visited when he was fifteen on a trip to Paris.

He explains that his time visiting renown concept stores in his youth assisted in shaping the ethos of the store – accessible fashion for the masses. He elucidates, «I could have never been able to afford designer pieces when I was younger. While I could not purchase jackets that cost two thousand Euros at the time, I instead studied the fabrics and looked toward accessible pieces that were, to me, inexpensive».

With this in mind, Jongen saw through that T0K10 would be a vision of a concept store that could be attainable and welcoming to the young fashion savant, as he once was. He adds that he comprehends that while designer goods are unattainable to some, all are welcome to peruse the contents being sold in T0K10. «I intended it to be welcoming, to break down the barriers that high-fashion belongs to one subset of consumers». 

T0k10 is a Rotterdam based store embedded with the wabi-sabi aesthetic of Tokyo
T0k10 is a Rotterdam based store embedded with the wabi-sabi aesthetic of Tokyo

Items Sold at T0K10

Over the course of its existence, T0K10 has evolved its offerings, integrating a varied collection of designers, clothing pieces and accessories that fit the aesthetic of its buyers and consumers of the sort. Jongen shares that he has accumulated Homme Plus clothing items from Comme Des Garçon – an example of high-fashion goods that he did not foresee carrying as opposed to the beginning of T0K10’s establishment.

He shares that in its infancy, the brand carried collections of accessible clothing pieces that were in the realm of streetwear items – tee shirts and collectibles that were affordable. «My goal was to allow the youth of the environs to experience fashion in a non-judgmental space – a realization that I wished to have when I myself was in my youth. It is a practice followed through into today».

Over the years, Jongen has amassed an assemblage of designers that he stocks in T0K10. Some of which include Comme Des Garçon, Y-3 by Yohji Yamammoto alongside European fashion labels like Dries Van Noten, Gosha Rubchinskiy and Sacai. Jongen states that he has added accessories and lifestyle products that carry into the area of publications, body care and home accessories over the years to cater to customers beyond the realm of fashion. Brands under these categories include MALIN + GOETZ, Les Eaux Promordiales, and Medicom Toy, a designer collectible toy brand founded in Tokyo.

Publications include magazines from 032c, I-D and Sleek Magazine. Jongen shares that his intention in including such items was to allow people of varying interests to set forth into the store, even if avant garde and streetwear items were not of desire to them. Having a partnership with the brands and publications that are stocked in T0K10, Jongen takes part in seeking and buying these during fashion week and through seeking them online. «The brands that we carry in store encompass a design language which are familiar to me, the members of staff and our customers. We have continued to carry these brands and look to expand our inventory of items in the near future with the partnerships we have».

T0K10’s Location and Interior Design 

Located in the main-shopping district of Rotterdam, Jongen states that the street he exists in is in a dichotomy with the neighbors across the road. As he shares, one street is known for high-fashion goods and retailers who flock the area. Whereas the area across is a familiar area for queer bars and coffee stores that do not emulate the distinction to its former space. As such, Jongen chose this area as it reflected the internal identity of T0K10 – further disseminating the ideation of contrast for the brand.

«There used to be a store selling clothing items from brands like Junya Watanabe, Maison Margiela and Comme Des Garçon as well but it has since shuttered. The neighboring concept stores and retailers are within a vernacular that is unlike what I was presenting to the masses. This is how we have stood apart from competitors». While the store is located by department stores who offer inexpensive clothing items, Jongen’s choice to situate T0K10 within the means of accessibility falls in line with the ethos of the brand.

He adds that the street where T0K10 is situated holds historical significance that Jongen holds value to – being named after a ruler of The Netherlands who did not come from the monarchy. The design of the store, while maintained over time, has evolved in miniscule aspects. Having added a streak of red pain on a wall for the purpose of Christmas decoration, the added feature remains in the physical space since its inception some years ago.

Using wood and metal as the elements of design, adapting the Japanese wabi-sabi aesthetic, Jongen employed the assistance of his cousin, Ludo Groen, an architect, and cabinet maker Jacco Dost to visualize and realize his vision. Designer wear and lifestyle items are arranged side by side in a gallery like manner. An element incorporated by Jongen – which has been adapted by businesses in the environs – is operating without the presence of a cash register. As he puts it, there is a layer of closeness that is put forth between the customer and the salesperson in charge, creating a communicative layer that urges customers to return. 

T0K10’s Efforts in Sustainability & It’s Future Plans 

Jongen and T0K10’s part in upkeeping healthy social and environmental practices includes having a diverse team of staff members from varying cultural backgrounds. Jongen states that his belief in allowing individuals opportunities to work and collaborate with brands and businesses should not be led by racial stereotypes. «Each individual brings a differing aspect to the business – a part of a whole that allows T0K10 to cater to our customers».

Along with this, Jongen ensures that T0K10 follows through with the requirements from its local-government to recycle their waste and avoid the use of plastic bags. He adds that while the products that are sold cost an amount, they last the test of time due to its quality and style that succeeds trends. «The issue lies in the over-consumption of goods which are innate in human nature. At T0K10, while the clothing items are on the expensive side, we entice a customer to pave their purchase patterns by how they intend to utilize the article of clothing over time».

Having intended to host an event prior to the pandemic, Jongen looks to realize the event once more with the partnership of a renowned brand. Jongen ends by saying that all individuals who are keen to coincide their thoughts in fashion and lifestyle matters are welcomed to T0K10’s physical space. In the coming months, T0K10 is set to relocate their physical space to one that can house an extensive collection of items for their customers. 

T0K10

Van Oldenbarneveltstraat 135A 3012 GT, Rotterdam The Netherlands

A Rotterdam based store embedded with the wabi-sabi aesthetic of Tokyo, T0K10 is a dichotomy in design and identity through the clothes and lifestyle items being sold within a fifty square meter store. Displaying pieces from Japanese designers, T0K10 has since expanded their offerings to European creators in the vein of streetwear and avant garde clothing. 

Pravin Nair

The writer does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article.

check and buy on Prototipo Store
item collections in limited edition
crafted according to our editorial search

Hemp / made in Italy
Lampoon is working to restore Hemp production in Italy
as hemp is the one and only natural vegetal fiber sourceable in the country
for more info, please email us

check and buy on Prototipo Store
item collections in limited edition
crafted according to our editorial search

Hemp / made in Italy
Lampoon is working to restore
Hemp production in Italy
as hemp is the one and only
natural vegetal fiber sourceable in the country
for more info, please email us at [email protected]

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