‘It is a competitive market,’ says Hiroe Imai, the founder of Japanese beauty brand Shiro, when asked why she chose London as the destination for Shiro’s first store outside of Japan. On the surface, expanding into a city that’s hardly short of luxury skin-care shops might seem like a risky venture, but when said business comes with a distinct Japanese heritage and 22 stores to its name, Imai’s conviction carries considerable weight.
Visitors to the Shiro store on King’s Road can expect an extensive skin-care and fragrance range, comprised of natural ingredients that have been expertly sourced and sampled from Japan for their rich cleansing properties. Herein, the most frequently-used ingredient is kombu, a type of seaweed commonly used as a cooking ingredient in Japan. Its high viscosity and moisture content forms the foundation of the skin-care range.
Vintage aged woods were utilised for the store's warm interiors
Sake kasu – the edible, fruity-tasting residue from sake production – is also used for its skin hydration properties, as well as being nutrient rich and high in amino acids and minerals. Imai once again enlisted Naoki Mizushima – the in-house architect/executive director of Shiro – to realise the company's vision. Consistent with his design of the previous 22 stores, Mizushima here continues Shiro’s carefully considered aesthetic, using vintage aged wood for the flooring and Manchurian ash wood for the shelves – a tree native to northeastern Asia.
The pendant light fixtures – made from oxidised brass – and the freestanding bathtub are both antiques. Mizushima used aged materials to mirror the purity and timelessness of Shiro’s skin-care formulations – design details that scrub up well.