Tokyo alterations: Fixing up your duds

Tokyo alterations: Fixing up your duds

Three sartorial saviors that will be happy to help when a moth feasts on your favorite sweater or you need to pep up that old party dress
Tokyo alterations
Sure you could learn how to sew yourself, but why not just pay a professional and avoid ruining your garments in the process?

During the New Year holidays, you likely dug out some fuddy-duddy clothes, either fashion disasters from years gone past, or much loved but tattered favorites with broken zippers and unfortunate holes. Don't throw them away! Instead breath new life into them with a visit to one of Tokyo's alteration spots.

Sarto: High-end craftsmen

The wizard tailors at Sarto are those who officially alter clothes at such high-end retailers as United Arrows and Chrome Hearts. They're especially skilled at fixing leather jackets, taking the jacket up or down a size and adding custom linings with your own fabric.

Along with alterations and made-to-order tailoring, personalization is also available through embroidery, painting, dyeing and decoration. Sarto has three locations in Harajuku and Ginza.

Sample prices
Skirt hem shortening: from ¥1,500 
Shoulder alteration on men's jacket: from ¥5,000 

Work Shop Sarto (Harajuku): 3F, Jingumae 2-18-5, Shibuya-ku, 03 3408 3982,

Big Mama: Quick and cheap repair

Big Mama is great for casual clothing that needs a bit of sprucing up. The chain also wins points for having 11 convenient locations in Tokyo.

The unassuming shop can handle all of the usual alterations on clothing as well as some interior items such as curtains and cushions. Big Mama's predominantly female staff will also repair shoes and bags that may seem past the point of rescue.

Sample prices

Skirt hem shortening: from ¥1,890
Shoulder alteration on men’s jacket: from ¥6,350

Big Mama Marunouchi: Marubiru B1F, Marunouchi 2-4-1, Chiyoda-ku, tel. 03 3211 8704, 11am-9pm (8pm on Sundays and holidays),

Individuet: New creations from old garments

Individuet goes beyond mere alterations and works to make things into completely new custom pieces. The end results are highly eclectic with the seamstress' taste leaning towards prairie and punk. But if you can turn dowdy old sack into a wild cocktail frock, the recycle gods will smile upon you.

Individuet is based in Kanagawa but does business through mail orders and sketching. Inquire about pricing via email or phone.

Individuet: Yokoyama 6-4-1, Sagamihara-shi, Kanagawa-ken, tel. 042 794 6860,, email:

Misha Janette is a fashion reporter, stylist and translator who runs the fashion commentary site, Frivolite. She is a graduate of Tokyo's Bunka Fashion College.
Read more about Misha Janette