Step into the world of Uniqlo

“Hello, my name is Uniqlo, how are you today?”

Everyone I know has an obsession with Uniqlo (or at least has heard of it and acknowledges New York’s love affair with the US flagship) – be it their V-neck t-shirts (me, me, me! more, more, more!), incredibly inexpensive jeans, graphic tees, underwear, etc.. – they rock the basics (albeit sometimes a strange basic – UV resistant shirts? Very Japanese).

In the days of my youth, the Gap basics were the backbone of my unfashionable wardrobe – but Uniqlo’s basics are simply better than the Gap basics – they are fitted where Gap is loose, brightly colored where Gap is muddled.  Uniqlo was our first stop for our incredibly vibrant Halloween costumes when our dinosaur costumes demanded bright green and blue hoodies and tights and I own four and counting short-sleeved V-neck t-shirts in various colors (oh oatmeal how I adore thee).  Not to mention that all I want to put on in the mornings is my uniform of Uniqlo V-neck tshirt and skinny / straight leg jean (white vs. dark navy – its always a toss up).  The New York Magazine article titled “How Did Uniqlo Become the Hottest Retailer in New York?” tells me, this is the fitted-basic, downtown look, but I digress into my wardrobe.

“Soon after the Soho store opened, management noticed a blip in the sales statistics that prompted another midcourse correction: The styles of clothes Uniqlo had designed for America—an approximation of the Gap, with a looser, relaxed-in-the-middle fit—weren’t selling. Uniqlo doesn’t do market research, so instead they started to ship over smaller, Japanese sizes, and when those items started moving, they resized the American orders. Uniqlo had stumbled on an underserved market: the urban basics shopper.”

“You can’t walk into the Gap, or even the newly hipsterized J.Crew, and find yourself a wide selection of skinny jeans. This is because, with the notable exception of American Apparel, most American retailers have designed their small, medium, and large sizes to approximate the physiques (and tastes) of the general American population. Most of these customers do not want their basics fitted. What Uniqlo discovered, however, is that there are a lot of people who do—especially in New York.”

Although I’ve known about Uniqlo for awhile, the concept behind it has always been seemingly superficial.  I got the minimalist outlook, the respectful perkiness of its salespeople, and noticed the two-handed (and very Japanese) way in which they handed back your credit cards.  For me, there hadn’t been a lot more to it than my impression of Veruca Salt: “I want more t-shirts and I want them now.”  But there’s always been an underlying tone that said Uniqlo is a well-oiled machine, Uniqlo is not to be messed about with in a darkened alleyway.  There’s a discipline that other chain (read: American) stores don’t have.  And its admirable.

Here’s why New Yorkers have become obsessed and we peer into the minimalist, rainbow-hued behemoth.

How Did Uniqlo Become the Hottest Retailer in New York?


~ by drywoodburstingintoflame on May 11, 2010.

One Response to “Step into the world of Uniqlo”

  1. I’d just like to say that I do not like Uniqlo. Im from London so maybe its different over here? ill check out a US store and maybe post about it..!

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