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The More You Know, The More You Want: Wandering in Search of Hit Cosmetics

長谷川 真弓

GINZA SIX EDITORS Vol.69

GINZA SIX lets you see, touch, and experience the absolute latest in Tokyo fashion, beauty, and food.
As part of my work responsibilities, I often visit the Beauty Floor, where the cosmetic counters for various brands offer limited edition products available only that season and cosmetics in various new colors. The lineups of standard products are extensive, too. I know I’m not the only one who loosens her purse strings for these brands.

One boutique to which journalists and writers on the frontlines of beauty have conferred both attention and numerous “Likes” is SUQQU, on the first belowground floor. Debuting in 2003, the brand is celebrating its 15-year anniversary this year. It’s a virtual certainty the brand will be mentioned in women’s and beauty magazines this year in makeup features that discuss ways to remedy dull skin. It’s currently the hottest brand targeting mature buyers.

In particular, word-of-mouth concerning the brand’s foundation—that it easily meets the lofty requirements of adult women—has gained momentum year after year. Upgraded this past fall, the Extra Rich Glow Cream Foundation (seven colors, 10,000 yen each; all prices listed before tax) is also drawing the attention of seasoned beauty professionals.

“We’ve been getting more customers from overseas each year, from China, Korea, Taiwan, and other parts of Asia, as well as from Germany,” says staff member Hiroko Yamaguchi. The foundation’s reputation as something of a beauty elixir has clearly spread far and wide—not just in Japan, but to countries overseas.

The key point is that the foundation meets the needs of adult women. Dullness and spots grow more prominent with age. This foundation is an effortless fix for dullness and spots. It gives skin a trendy sheen and maintains moisture—just what adult skin needs. I expected a thick texture. Instead, when I first tried it, I found the cream spreads smoothly, as if sliding on the skin. Yet it also stays perfectly on the skin. If you’re not quite satisfied with the foundation you’re currently using, I recommend giving it a try.

The GINZA SIX boutique offers the brand’s first treatment room. Here you can get hands-on lessons on the brand’s trademark facial massage and try the latest makeup while receiving expert advice. Incidentally, you can soon experience the surprising freshness of the 2019 spring collection and other fun makeup items—so, don’t miss it!

My next stop is RMK, also on the first underground floor. It’s a brand loved by countless women of all ages. Its makeup collections and limited production sets have been so popular, primarily among younger women, that they’ve become hard to obtain.
The brand also offers a long-running item that continues to sell well even without special advertising: RMK’s iconic Makeup Base (30 ml, 3,700 yen).

RMK debuted in 1997. At the time the mainstream cosmetic trend in Japan for foundation was strong coverage and a thick matte application. Makeup Base and Liquid Foundation were conceived based on the notion that it’s a shame to cover up the smooth, beautiful skin of Japanese women. Today, it’s fair to say they’re RMK’s best known products. Makeup Base, in particular, which emphasizes the importance of the base layer below the makeup, garnered rave reviews in magazines from editors, journalists, and writers who attended the product release press conference. The enthusiasm spread to women attuned to beauty, eventually giving the product the status of a major sensation. It’s no exaggeration to say it marked the start of the glossy boom.

“More than 20 years have passed since it was launched,” says Erina Otake, the GINZA SIX boutique’s chief beauty communicator. “The formula hasn’t changed even once, which is rare. It beautifully addresses skin texture and provides an ideal glossy sheen. It’s an item you’ll want to stock up on.” The story of the product’s power lies in the numbers. It’s popular, of course, among Japanese customers. But it’s also popular among foreign tourists, who ask for it by name. Makeup Base ranks among the top three best sellers for all RMK boutiques nationwide. The GINZA SIX boutique alone sells over 200 units a month, an astonishing figure. It’s a legendary cosmetic.

Leaving the cosmetics floor, I head up the escalator to #0107 PLAZA on the fourth floor. This store by PLAZA proposes new lifestyles. It creates a pleasing shopping experience while letting visitors handle the carefully selected merchandise. When I went to a private viewing at the shop’s opening, I found small, tasteful implements and other objects displayed throughout the space. When I asked why, I was told the items on display included some of the personal possessions of PLAZA’s famous buyer. I like the fashionable whimsy of the name, too, which can be decoded in Japanese to mean grownup—reflecting the store’s awareness of Ginza’s reputation as a destination for the mature.

You’ll find three areas inside: Fashion & Stationery, Food & Kitchen, and Health & Beauty. The open, relaxed space piques my shopping zeal. The juice stand at the entrance offers cold-pressed juice and coffee. The vegetables and fruit are squeezed right on the spot; the drinks are fresh and delicious.

The Health & Beauty area toward the back of the store features an extensive range of reasonably priced cosmetics and natural cosmetics. They’re displayed so you can see all the trendy makeup and products making word-of-mouth waves in a single glance, which is why I drop in almost every time I come to GINZA SIX.

One example is TAKAMI Skin Peel (30 ml, 4,584 yen). Among beauty journalists, beauticians and makeup artists, it’s known as a major hit product of unwavering popularity. “As a keratin care beauty lotion you apply right after washing your face,” explains PR representative Kazutane Togo, “it’s popular because it’s ideal for anyone, regardless of age or skin type.”

The product lines for beauty-sensitive customers by brands like GUHL LABORATORY and rms beauty are also interesting. #0107 PLAZA is the ideal place to encounter helpful, reasonably priced cosmetics.

Finally, I’ll introduce Sennenkoujiya on the Food Floor, the second belowground floor. If you like sake, you’ll know about Niigata’s renowned Hakkaisan, which helped start the sake microbrew boom in the 1990s. As I walk around the store, I’m surprised to see all the Hakkaisan varieties.

There’s Snow Aged Junmai Ginjo 3 Years (280 ml, 1,400 yen; 720 ml, 3,100 yen), whose popularity is currently skyrocketing. “This sake is aged in insulated ‘snow rooms,’ traditional in Uonuma, Niigata, where the winter snowfall is heavy,” store manager Shinichi Abe tells me. The sake is aged for three years in a storehouse in which snow is installed. Sake that’s been aged at a stable temperature, he says, has a smooth, crisp flavor.

The Koji Dare, a dressing that uses koji malt from Hakkaisan, is another hit. “It’s a product customers with a strong interest in food buy repeatedly,” he says. The yuzu flavored dressing (200 ml, 550 yen) is most popular during the winter season. Its refreshing flavor goes well, Abe-san says, with meat and fish dishes and hot pot meals.

I was unaware the Hakkaisan brand has a line of cosmetics. Hakkaisan sake, carefully brewed in the rich natural setting of Snow Country, Uonuma, in Niigata Prefecture, is packed with amino acids, an essential component of beautiful skin. “The hand cream,” Abe-san tells me, “contains 10% Hakkaisan sake.” That’s a lot!

Face Gel catches my eye. It has a moist, light texture, I’m told, and is all you need for skincare after washing your face—a very contemporary convenience. I’m surprised how deftly it incorporates current trends in the cosmetics market. The package is inscribed in English as well, which is popular with foreign tourists. It’s an authentic cosmetic product that reflects the awareness of a brewer not preoccupied with mere trend-surfing. I can recommend it especially to women who don’t like sticky creams.

Popular brands have good reasons for popularity: passion and particularity. I shop while enjoying talking to the staff. All are well versed in the brand’s history and its products—something that’s characteristic and fun about shopping at GINZA SIX.

Text:Mayumi Hasegawa Photos:Yoriko Saito Edit:Yuka Okada

editors_hasegawa

長谷川 真弓

美容エディター・ライター編集プロダクションを経て、広告代理店で化粧品メーカーの営業を7年半担当。化粧品のおもしろさに目覚めたのち、2009年INFASパブリケーションズに入社。美容週刊紙「WWD Beauty」の編集を担当し、2014年にフリーへ転身。ビューティにまつわるヒト・コト・モノを精力的に取材している。現在は講談社Webマガジン「mi-mollet(ミモレ)」の他、@cosme、TOKYOWISEなどで執筆中。
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2018.12.25 UP