Fender has a high-street retail presence for the first time in its history after it opened its doors at the Fender Flagship Tokyo on 30 June.
The Fender Flagship Tokyo is located in Harajuku-Omotesando – a hot-spot for youth culture and upscale shopping outlets – and will stock the full line-up of the US brand’s electric and acoustic guitars, bass guitars, guitar amps, effects and accessories. It will also be the first place in the world you can buy its brand new Japanese apparel line, F Is For Fender.
The store is huge, spread across four levels. If you are visiting from overseas, you will be glad to know there is coffee available onsite to help with the jet lag. The store is home to the Fender Cafe, serving up coffee from Verve Coffee Roasters all day.
It also has an events space onsite where it can host product launches, broadcast shows, panel talks, live performances and workshops. “Designed for all music lovers, Fender Flagship Tokyo goes beyond the conventional music store, offering a one-of-a-kind music experience to all visitors,” says Fender.
This is a big move for Fender. A Fender-branded retail outlet has been something many have expected from the US brand. Recent years have seen rival Gibson open the Gibson Garage in Nashville, with another expected to be opened in London soon. In 2022, Gibson's then-CEO JC Curleigh hinted at more Gibson Garages opening internationally.
Visitors to the Fender Flagship Tokyo can demo gear in the soundproofed rooms of the second floor. Those with deep pockets can hit the top floor and order a Custom Shop instrument, perhaps one designed by a Master Builder – or they could just take in the sights and dream. Just take a look at the hand-tooled wooden cabinet of this Deluxe Reverb below.
That Fender chose Tokyo for its first outlet speaks to the strength of the brand in Japan. Nikkei Asia/The Financial Times report that Fender is the market-leader in Japanese electric guitar sales, commanding a 35 per cent share.
It is also an indicator of where they see growth. The Japan Times reports Fender CEO Andy Mooney describing Japan as the most influential country in Asia, a region Fender expects to be the largest music market in the next 10 years.
“Some people say to us, ‘Why Japan? Why not LA? Why not New York? Why not London?' Well, the reason is Fender has deep roots here in Japan,” Edward Cole, Fender’s president for Asia-Pacific, told The Japan Times. “We have history, legacy and providence in this influential music market.”
It is often said that Japan gets all the cool stuff when it comes to Fender. This does little to change that. But we are seeing a trend right now where the range of Fender and its brands’ Japanese-made instruments has been expanding across other territories.
Jackson, Charvel and EVH Gear have all debuted MIJ high-end electric guitars in the past year, with EVH launching the shreddable Wolfgang Signature only last week. In the past month, Fender has added limited edition Satin Black Noir models to its MIJ Hybrid II Series .