UNIQLO is a fast fashion retailer from Japan. They have a strong presence in Japan and have rapidly expanded over the last few years into greater Asia. They opened their first US stores in 2005 in NYC and have slowly begun to increase their store count (now at 17) here. Their stores are mostly located in the NYC metro and the Bay Area, but they are starting to branch out a little more. I predict that they will have over 100 stores in the US by 2020.
What I like about UNIQLO is that it makes clothes that have an “Asian Fit”, which are usually tighter and more streamlined than the typical American clothes. The 5$ T-shirt that UNIQLO makes is my favorite wardrobe piece. They go well with anything and make my biceps and triceps look attractive. UNIQLO, like Lululemon, makes clothes for thin and fit people. However, unlike Lululemon, UNIQLO is affordable and appeals to a far broader demographic. I think Americans, especially young and hip Americans, will start to gravitate towards UNIQLO as it expands its retail presence. Hip and trendy people of all races have already begun to catch on to UNIQLO in NYC and the Bay Area. UNIQLO is not just an Asian thing, it is a cool thing. It is easy to dress hipster by shopping at UNIQLO.
American youth these days are embracing an international culture and turning their backs towards the American culture. American clothing brands such as American Eagle, Gap, Aeropostale, and Abercrombie and Fitch, are in decline. It’s not cool to be All-American anymore. It’s cool to be “International”. In the middle market of casual clothing, this means H&M (European) and UNIQLO (Japanese). Moreover, the fast fashion aspect of H&M and UNIQLO lets these companies quickly take advantage of fashion trends. UNIQLO also does a superb job of visual merchandising. Whenever I walk into a UNIQLO store, everything is neatly folded, the store is bright and clean, and there is a unique sense of calm, even in the NYC locations. The store environment is second to none. The Japanese are exacting in their standards and it shows in the store presentation.
Whenever I visit NYC, San Francisco, or Asia, I always stop at Uniqlo to shop for clothes. The one thing I do not like about UNIQLO is that some of the clothes tend to be of poor quality. This is understandable, given the fast fashion aspect of the company (the clothes are not meant to be worn very often), but I still find myself wishing for better quality.