It is no secret that Tokyo boasts one of the healthiest second-hand markets in the world. From RagTag to Ware mo kou, luxury consigners and vintage stores are omnipresent from Shibuya Crossing to the backstreets of Harajuku. While each location offers its own unique selection, ranging from American vintage to fresh-from-the-runway Chanel, one chain stands above the rest: RINKAN. Spread across 10 stores—eight in Tokyo, as well as a branch in both Osaka and Fukuoka—RINKAN is one of the preeminent used luxury retailers in the country. From a store dedicated to jewelry stuffed with Goro's and Chrome Hearts to a streetwear focused location with nearly every piece from the Louis Vuitton x Supreme collaboration, if people want to buy it, RINKAN sells it (and vice-versa). Whether it's second-hand Yohji or brand new with tags BEAMS+ from across the street, chances are it's sitting at RINKAN.

Despite the company's massive retail operation, company president Kengo Saito felt unsatisfied. He noticed a growing segment of buyers were frustrated with the current state of the fashion industry. For lack of a better term, things are simply not as good as they used to be. His solution? Rather than open another location packed to the brim with premium goods from his favorite designers, he did the complete opposite. Saito opened a store whose sole purpose is to highlight the archival nature of the garments he cherishes. The result is Archive Store.

Located in the basement level of the Wacko building in Shibuya—directly below RINKAN's flagship—Archive Store is not easy to find, undoubtedly on purpose. Hidden down a dark stairwell, the only visible signage is a few copper letters on a black well, barely illuminated by some dim lighting beneath. Walk down the stairwell and swing back the opaque door and suddenly you are transported into a literal museum of some of the rarest men's and women's archive pieces in the world.

Filled with chrome bars, wall-to-wall mirrors and deceptively complex construction—one room feels like a square box, however, upon closer inspection transforms into a mirrored walkway—the store is a carnival funhouse worshipping Archive Store's rotating cast of idols, ranging from Martin Margiela to Slimane-era Dior Homme. While merchandise rotates, the Archive Store holy trinity—Rei Kawakubo, Helmut Lang and Yohji Yamamoto—is always on sight. Naturally, there's a section devoted to Raf Simons as well.

From the hidden trap door concealing the flower-laden dressing room to a sitting section with statuesque Comme des Garçons dresses straight off the runway, Archive Store is worlds away from RINKAN—or any other store, for that matter.

When we learned that Archive Store was a member of our community and already selling on Grailed, we just had to speak with it. In order to learn more about arguably the most unique second-hand retail experience in Tokyo (if not Japan), we spoke with Saito on why he opened the store, how he finds these archive gems, and what's in store for Archive Store's future.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Images courtesy of Archive Store.

Visit Archive Store's Grailed wardrobe here.