Thursday, June 28, 2012

Uniqlo: A Private Clothing Label Takes On The World

All photos of are of the Soho Flagship Uniqlo Store.
(photos: TheHopefulTraveler)
The first Uniqlo I ever stepped into was this one in Soho in New York City. At first I was more impressed with the look of the store. A clean line aesthetic via the use of white, lots of glass and wood floors throughout its 36,000 square feet accented by the meticulously organized bright colors of the store's merchandise.

Probably the first things most visitors encounter as they enter this location is the array of printed t-shirts geared towards a younger and hipper crowd or the graphic t-shirt nerd in them. Like most people, I like my clothing to be practical, simple and versatile but also have a quality that will make them last. So with lots of linen sold during that first visit to the store in the summer of 2010 and thinking of the care they require, I largely dismissed the shop's selection of clothing for men.

But when I returned a second time during that same summer vacation, I found a bright light lime green polo that I found soft, would look dressy with a pair of work slacks or casual with shorts or jeans. Another thing I found is that the quality of the clothing feels more luxurious than merchandise I've found at competing clothing retailer H&M. That Swedish shop brand was my go to place to find cheap, good looking clothing when in Manhattan. But I always felt lucky if those clothes lasted more than a season if not more than a few washings and wearings. Somehow I felt this Japanese brand of clothing (and yes I know they're made in other Asian countries) had the quality and durability I wanted. I still have that polo today and it still looks and feels like I bought it yesterday.
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What makes this shop a pleasant experience is the upbeat atmosphere generated by the helpful employees (well most of them when they're not busy). The merchandise is affordable like H&M and though ultimately it'll be your taste in clothes that determines if you like the merchandise at Uniqlo I have a feeling there is something her for most everyone.

Today I found a button down shirt in an uncomplicated design of waffled white cotton with square dots of light blue, grey and black sprinkled sparsely on the pattern. It feels comfortable and instructions for care of the garment is practical (meaning: dry cleaning not necessary).

Uniqlo is shop I will visit again on successive visits to Manhattan if only to find that unique item to show I found it at Uniqlo. As usual for new retailers breaking into the U.S. market, it'll be a while before the brand opens a branch in my home state of Hawaii.

The name Uniqlo is a contraction of the shop's former name in Japan called "Unique Clothing Wearhouse". The company opened its first shops in the United States in 2005 at three unheralded locations in New Jersey before opening a flagship store a year later in Soho. The company has publicly announced they wish to open 200 stores located in every major U.S. City and reach a goal of $10 billion in sales in North America by 2020. That would it make it one of the most successful clothing retailers in the world.

Besides Japan and the U.S., Uniqlo shops are located in China, France, Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and the United Kingdom.

For more information and to shop online visit The Soho Uniqlo is open Mon-Sat 10:00am-9:00pm; Sun & Holiday 11:00am-8:00pm. Address: 546 Broadway between Prince and Spring Streets. Nearest Metro stop: Prince St [N, R].


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