ATHOUGH the Japantown area of San Francisco has remained largely static since the 1970s — stretches of concrete, blocky mini-malls and lots of sushi restaurants — a new wave of Japanese popular culture, from monster movies to Lolita dresses, has hit the area, thanks to the recent arrival of New People, a five-level, glass-walled, 20,000-square-foot shrine to all things Japanese.
Opened last August, New People (1746 Post Street; 415-525-8630; newpeopleworld.com) is a modern mash-up of culture, art, design and fashion. It has a ground-floor cafe that serves vegan doughnuts, Blue Bottle Coffee and bento boxes by Delica, the upscale Japanese deli. The next two floors are dedicated to merchandise, specializing in items rarely found outside Japan; one level carries a wide selection of books, stationery, music and other goods, including skinny silk neckties ($139) from the Japanese brand Giraffe and hand-printed postcards ($2.25) by the popular Tokyo-based artist Yuki Koishikawa.
The second level is mostly devoted to three permanent labels — Black Peace Now; Sou-Sou; and Baby, the Stars Shine Bright — that are all big players in Tokyo street fashion and run from punk-rock goth to Lolita schoolgirl chic. An additional rotating boutique space introduces other works to Western audiences, including a line of white ceramic pins and rings that sprout live moss ($190) by the jewelry designers On Za Line, and whimsical line drawings by Noritake, an artist who collaborates with fashion houses and magazines in Japan.
Link to New People stores.