This past weekend, Uniqlo opened its second-largest US outpost right in the heart of the Mag Mile (fun fact: your correspondent was the first official customer).
We think the iconic Japanese brand’s ethos — superior construction, understated styling, garments that play nice with all seasons and occasions — will find a kindred spirit in the Midwest.
1. It’s all about the basics
Uniqlo Creative Director John Jay told Fast Company in a 2012 interview that “selling sportswear in America is like selling rice to the Chinese.” But armed with the knowledge that his brand’s basics could beat out most domestic offerings in terms of both function and value, it was a gamble he was willing to take. From T-shirts to button-down oxfords, all the way down to underwear and socks, Uniqlo makes it easy to re-up on wardrobe staples in one fell swoop.
2. Affordable prices without cutting corners
Uniqlo steers to the middle when it comes to high fashion versus fast fashion. For example, the brand sources its denim from Japan’s historic Kaihara mill … but only charges customers a Grant for a pair of jeans.
3. Seasonal collaborations keep the stock fresh
Speaking of high fashion: Uniqlo has a knack for bringing couture mainstays in for a collab or two each season. Past co-conspirators have included world-class designers such as Jil Sander and Michael Bastian, with a few wild cards thrown in (like the Andy Warhol Foundation). Their 2015 Fall/Winter co-signer: Lemaire, headed by Christophe Lemaire, formerly the Creative Director at Hermès.
4. It’s a modular, organized shopping experience
The Uniqlo experience is very similar to the Tokyo experience. Bright colors. Organized chaos. All in, you’re looking at 60,000 sq. ft. of retail space. It’s in your face but somehow restrained. Overwhelming at first, but once ya get the hang of it, easy enough to navigate so long as you can follow signs and keep tabs of the escalators.
5. This jacket...is $150. We’ll take one in every color, please and thank you.