Uniqlo

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Uniqlo Co., Ltd.
株式会社ユニクロ
Wholly owned subsidiary
Industry Fashion
Retail
Founded Ube, Yamaguchi, Japan
1949; 68 years ago (1949)
Headquarters Midtown Tower, Akasaka
9-chome, Minato, Tokyo, Japan
Key people
Tadashi Yanai (Chairman, President & CEO)
Takahiro Wakabayashi (Senior Vice President)
Products Clothing
Number of employees
30,000 (2008)
Parent Fast Retailing
(2005–present)
Website uniqlo.com

Uniqlo Co., Ltd. (株式会社ユニクロ?, Kabushiki-gaisha Yunikuro) (US: /ˈjuːnikl/ EW-nee-klo[1] Japanese pronunciation: [jɯɲikɯɾo]) is a Japanese casual wear designer, manufacturer and retailer. The company has been a wholly owned subsidiary of Fast Retailing Co., Ltd. since November 2005. The company operates in Japan and several other countries.

History[edit]

Uniqlo flagship store in Shinsaibashisuji, Osaka

Origins in Japan[edit]

Since March 1949, a Yamaguchi-based company, Ogori Shōji (which, until then, had been operating men's clothing shops called "Men's Shop OS") existed in Ube, Yamaguchi.

In May 1984, they opened a unisex casual wear store in Fukuro-machi, Naka-ku, Hiroshima under the name "Unique Clothing Warehouse". Initially, from the contraction of "unique clothing", the brand was going to register under "uni-clo". However, in 1988, during administration work between Hong Kong in relation to the brand, staff in charge of registration misread the "C" as "Q", and that is how the brand name was born. From then, Tadashi Yanai changed the store name to "uniqlo" across Japan.[2] In September 1991, the name of the company was changed from "Ogori Shōji" to "Fast Retailing", and by April 1994, there were over 100 Uniqlo stores operating throughout Japan.

Private-label strategy[edit]

In 1997, Fast Retailing adopted a set of strategies from American retailer The Gap, known as "SPA" (for specialty-store/retailer of private-label apparel), meaning that they would produce their own clothing and sell it exclusively. They engaged the retail brand consultancy, CIA, Inc. / The Brand Architect Group, to guide the company through the realization of this strategy, including consulting on merchandise, visual merchandising and display, store design and a new logo designed by Richard Seireeni and Sy Chen of The Brand Architect Group's Los Angeles office. Uniqlo had begun outsourcing their clothing manufacturing to factories in China where labour was cheap, a well-established corporate practice. Japan was in the depths of a recession at the time, and the low-cost goods proved popular. Their advertising campaigns, clothing quality and new retail layouts also proved fruitful.[3]

In November 1998, they opened their first urban Uniqlo store in Tokyo's trendy Harajuku district, and outlets soon spread to major cities throughout Japan. In 2001, sales turnover and gross profit reached a new peak, with over 500 retail stores in Japan. When Uniqlo decided to expand overseas, it separated Uniqlo from the parent company,[1] and established Fast Retailing (Jiangsu) Apparel Co., Ltd. in China. In 2002 their first Chinese Uniqlo outlet was opened in Shanghai along with four overseas outlets in London, England.

2005 saw more overseas expansion, with stores opening in the United States (New York City), Hong Kong (Tsim Sha Tsui) and South Korea (Seoul), their South Korean expansion being part of a joint venture with Lotte. As of year-end 2005, in addition to its overseas holdings, Uniqlo had around 700 stores within Japan.[citation needed] By 2006 sales were $4 billion.[1] By April 2007, the company had set a global sales goal of $10 billion and a ranking among the top five global retailers, joining what at the time was Gap, H&M, Inditex, and Limited Brands.[1]

Fast Retailing signed a design consulting contract for Uniqlo products with fashion designer Jil Sander in March 2009.[4] Shiatzy Chen has been approached by Uniqlo to produce a capsule collection of ready to wear pieces to launch in November 2010 while Asia's largest Uniqlo store outside Japan opened its doors in Kuala Lumpur in the same month.

Labour rights record[edit]

In January 2015, a number of labour rights violations were reported at Uniqlo suppliers in China.[5][6][7][8] Uniqlo pledged to remedy the violations.[9][10]

In June 2015, Uniqlo factory workers went on strike in relation to lay-offs.[11][12]

In November 2015, investigations into the measures Uniqlo introduced in the wake of the January 2015 revelations found that Uniqlo's remedies had been only partially successful, with significant violations continuing to occur.[13][14]

In October 2016 the report 'This Way to Dystopia: Exposing UNIQLO’s Abuse of Chinese Garment Workers'[15] by SACOM and War on Want claimed that it was still the case that "excessive overtime, low pay, dangerous working conditions and oppressive management" were common in Uniqlo factories in China and Cambodia.

2020 goals[edit]

Uniqlo jeans at their Tokyo store.

On September 2, 2009, Fast Retailing Co., Ltd. announced that the company would target annual group sales of 5 trillion yen (about 61.2 billion US dollars) and pretax profit from operations of 1 trillion yen (about 12.2 billion US dollars) by 2020. This means that the company is aiming to become the world's biggest Specialty retailer of Private label Apparel with a continuous growth rate of 20% per year. The figure breaks down as one trillion yen from Uniqlo's Japan business, three trillion yen from its international business, and one trillion yen from "Japan-related and global brand business."[clarify] The company's international business target breaks down as one trillion yen in China, one trillion in other Asian countries and one trillion in Europe and the United States.[16]

Notable stores[edit]

As of 28 February 2017, more than 1,800 Uniqlo stores existed worldwide.[17] A handful of these have been featured in newspapers or retail trade periodicals.

Australia[edit]

In April 2014, Uniqlo opened its first store in Melbourne, followed by two new stores opened in Sydney in fall.[18][19] It then expanded its first stores in Queensland in late 2015, with the introduction of two Brisbane stores at the Queen Street Mall and the Indooroopilly Shopping Centre.[20] There are currently 12 stores in Australia by mid-2017.[21]

Bangladesh[edit]

Uniqlo started their first store at the Jamuna Future Park Shopping Complex in Dhaka,Bangladesh in 2013.[22]

Canada[edit]

Uniqlo opened their first Canadian store at the Toronto Eaton Centre in September 2016, followed by a second store at the Yorkdale Shopping Centre in October 2016.[23]. Measuring at 28,000 and 24,000 square feet, both stores are five times the size of the Muji store that opened in Toronto in 2014.[24]

China[edit]

Uniqlo in Sanlitun, Beijing, China.

Uniqlo entered the Chinese mainland market in 2002. As of July 2013, there were 211 stores in China, including in Beijing, Guangzhou, Chongqing, Chengdu, Nanjing, Ningbo, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Shijia, Tianjin and Xi'an.[25]

In May 2011, the magazine Shukan Bunshun[clarification needed] published a story alleging that Uniqlo had forced employees at its stores and factories in China to work long hours for little pay. In response, Uniqlo unsuccessfully sued the weekly's publisher, Bungeishunjū, for ¥220 million for libel.[26][27]

A 2015 online video of a couple having sex in a Beijing Uniqlo store changing room became notorious among Chinese internet users. Chinese police arrested at least five people in connection with the incident, allegedly including the couple and three other disseminators of the video, for having 'severely violated socialist core values'.[28] The New York Times noted that the store's exterior had become a popular venue for people to gather and take pictures in poses reminiscent of the video.[29]

France[edit]

On November 17, 2014, Uniqlo opened its first store in Eastern France (and the second store in France outside Greater Paris) in the city of Strasbourg.[30]

Germany[edit]

Their German flagship store opened on 11 April 2014 at Tauentzienstraße, Berlin.[31]

South Korea[edit]

In November 2011, Uniqlo generated more than 2 billion won ($1.7 million) in one day's sales on November 11 when it opened Asia's largest flagship store in central Seoul. The sales figure was the highest ever set by a fashion outlet in Korea.[32]

Philippines[edit]

Uniqlo opened stores at SM City Fairview on June 14 and Glorietta on June 28 2013.[33]

Uniqlo Philippines COO Katsumi Kubota said that the company is opening at least 200 outlets in the country by 2020, when he was interviewed at the SM City Clark during the third anniversary of the global retail brand. It started with five branches three years ago and now has 27 stores.[34]

Thailand[edit]

6 stores were opened between 2015 and 2016 in Bangkok (3), Chiang Mai, Surat Thani und Pattaya. They also operate a On-Line Store.

United Kingdom[edit]

Ambitious expansion plans in the early 2000s were reversed, with 16 stores being closed in 2003,[35] including those in Manchester,[36] Coventry,[37] and Leicester.

United States[edit]

Uniqlo's flagship store in Chicago on the Magnificent Mile

In November 2006, Uniqlo opened its first store in the SoHo fashion district of Manhattan, New York City. New fashion designers joined the store's team to boost and rebirth fashion concepts catering to the US market.[38]

As part of Fast Retailing's 2020 plan the company has stated that it plans to generate $10 billion in annual sales in the United States from 200 stores, which will lead to a location in every major U.S. city. This goal was stated when the company's only U.S. presence was its handful of stores in the New York City area,[39] soon after the company began an aggressive expansion in the United States.

In October 2015, Uniqlo opened its first store in the Midwest with a flagship Chicago store on Michigan Avenue.[40]

Notable projects[edit]

"Art for All" partnership with Jeffrey Deitch[edit]

Launching on January 20, 2017 “Art for All” is a partnership with New York art dealer and curator, Jeffrey Deitch. The project is centered around the sale of 65 limited-edition products made by commissioned artists such as Marie Roberts, Starlee Kine and Ken Kagami. With a focus on making the collecting of artworks available to a larger audience, the items on sale will all be available for under $100.[41]

Awards[edit]

The German fashion designer Jil Sander, appreciated for her minimalist aesthetic, joined Uniqlo in 2009, and was appointed creative director of the brand's menswear and womenswear - as well as launching a new label, +J collection, which won 2011 Brit Insurance Design Fashion Award. Sander sees a thrill in offering a utopian ideal of high-quality clothing to the masses. 'I like the concept of basic clothes in a democratic world,' she said. 'Uniqlo reminds me of Apple Computers; fantastic design for everyone. And I like what is Japanese about Uniqlo, a strong sense of tradition, the orderly approach to everything, great know-how and logistics.'[42]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Hyde, Katherine (2007-04-26). "Uniqlo: From Tokyo to New York to Global Brand". Japan Society. Retrieved 22 December 2012. 
  2. ^ http://www.mpfinance.com/htm/finance/20130426/news/ea_eaa3.htm
  3. ^ Nagata, Kazuaki, "Choice, chic, cheap — no one feels fleeced", Japan Times, November 17, 2009, p. 3.
  4. ^ 2009 | FAST RETAILING CO., LTD. Fastretailing.com (2010-12-20). Retrieved on 2011-02-16.
  5. ^ "The reality behind UNIQLO's corporate social responsibility promises". 16 June 2015. 
  6. ^ Kuo, Lily. "Your Uniqlo skinny jeans may have a dark past". 
  7. ^ "CorpWatch : UNIQLO, Japanese Fast Fashion Label, Accused of Labor Violations". 
  8. ^ "Uniqlo under fire for dealing with Chinese factories accused of putting workers at risk ‹ Japan Today: Japan News and Discussion". 
  9. ^ "In Response to Working Condition Claims at UNIQLO Garment and Textile Suppliers in China - FAST RETAILING CO., LTD.". 
  10. ^ "Uniqlo owner promises to improve working conditions in China". 16 January 2015. 
  11. ^ "Workers on strike at China factory supplying Uniqlo owner -rights group". 16 June 2016 – via Reuters. 
  12. ^ Roeland, Paul. "UNIQLO under fire for factory closure after worker uprising". 
  13. ^ "[Report] [Revised Edition 2016] Unveiling The Labour Rights Violations – The Second Investigative Report on UNIQLO's Suppliers in China - Sacom". 
  14. ^ "China labor groups chide Uniqlo over continued worker abuses, pollution". 27 November 2015 – via Japan Times Online. 
  15. ^ "This Way to Dystopia: Exposing UNIQLO’s Abuse of Chinese Garment Workers". War On Want. 2016-10-19. Retrieved 2017-04-01. 
  16. ^ Kensuke Kojima (2011). Uniqlo Syndrome. Toyo Keizai Shinpo Sha. ISBN 4-492-76191-8 Tenkai Japan. ASIN: B004PYDPOK.
  17. ^ "Group Outlets | FAST RETAILING CO., LTD.". www.fastretailing.com. Retrieved 2017-04-03. 
  18. ^ "UNIQLO Comes to Australia Plans to Open First Store in Melbourne, Spring 2014 | FAST RETAILING CO., LTD.". www.fastretailing.com (in Japanese). Retrieved 2017-06-10. 
  19. ^ "About UNIQLO | UNIQLO Australia Store | FAST RETAILING CAREER OPPORTUNITIES". LIFE at FR | FAST RETAILING CAREER OPPORTUNITIES. Retrieved 2017-06-10. 
  20. ^ "Uniqlo heads to Queensland". 1 September 2015. 
  21. ^ "STORE LOCATOR - UNIQLO". www.uniqlo.com. Retrieved 2017-06-10. 
  22. ^ Jamuna Future Park#cite note-5
  23. ^ Delap, Leanne (September 29, 2016). "Uniqlo set to launch first Canadian store at the Eaton Centre". Toronto Star. 
  24. ^ Kopun, Francine (June 19, 2016). "Uniqlo targets a unique apparel market: Everyone". Toronto Star]. 
  25. ^ http://asia.nikkei.com/print/article/55722
  26. ^ Staff (5 June 2011) "Uniqlo Takes Bungeishunju to Court for Libel". The Japan Times. Retrieved 11 July 2013.
  27. ^ "Court tosses Uniqlo defamation lawsuit". The Japan Times Online. 2013-10-19. ISSN 0447-5763. Retrieved 2015-08-28. 
  28. ^ Jiang, Stephen. "Chinese police detain suspects linked to viral Uniqlo sex video". CNN. Retrieved 22 October 2015. 
  29. ^ Ramzy, Austin. "Beijing Police Detain at Least 4 Over Uniqlo Sex Video". New York Times. Retrieved 22 October 2015. 
  30. ^ "Uniqlo ouvre à Strasbourg, une centaine d'emplois à la clé - France 3 Alsace". 
  31. ^ First German Uniqlo Store TrendJam Magazine. Retrieved on 2014-04-06
  32. ^ "Uniqlo posts record daily sales at new flagship store". Korea Herald. 2011-11-20. Retrieved 2012-12-22. 
  33. ^ "Uniqlo opens in Makati". Business World Online. Retrieved July 10, 2013. 
  34. ^ "Uniqlo to open 200 stores by 2020". www.businessmirror.com.ph. Archived from the original on 5 August 2015. Retrieved 8 August 2015. 
  35. ^ "Uniqlo retreats from British fashion market". The Guardian. 2003-03-08. Retrieved 2016-12-02. 
  36. ^ "Uniqlo to close Manchester stores". Manchester Evening News. 2004-08-10. Retrieved 2016-12-02. 
  37. ^ "Uniqlo going after just six months; STORE IN LOWER PRECINCT TO CLOSE ALONG WITH 15 OTHERS.". Retrieved 2016-12-02. 
  38. ^ Basic Chic From Japan. But Will It Sell?, New York Times, 10 November 2006
  39. ^ Wahba, Phil (2011-10-13). "Reuters". Reuters. Retrieved 2014-08-31. 
  40. ^ "Chicago's 1st Uniqlo Store, Opening Oct. 23, Will Be Country's 2nd Largest". 
  41. ^ Sherman, Lauren (January 12, 2017). "BoF Exclusive - Uniqlo Partners With Jeffrey Deitch on ‘Art for All’ Shop-in-Shops". The Business of Fashion. 
  42. ^ "Jil Sander's new range for Uniqlo". 

External links[edit]