Uniqlo

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Uniqlo Co., Ltd.
株式会社ユニクロ
Wholly owned subsidiary
IndustryFashion
Retail
FoundedUbe, Yamaguchi, Japan
1949; 71 years ago (1949)
FounderTadashi Yanai Edit this on Wikidata
HeadquartersMidtown Tower, Akasaka
9-chome, Minato, Tokyo,
Japan
Key people
Tadashi Yanai (Chairman, President & CEO)
Takahiro Wakabayashi (Senior Vice President)
ProductsClothing
Number of employees
44,424 (2018)
ParentFast Retailing
(2005–present)
Websiteuniqlo.com

Uniqlo Co., Ltd. (株式会社ユニクロ, Kabushiki-gaisha Yunikuro) (US: /ˈjuːnikl/ YOO-nee-kloh;[1] Japanese pronunciation: [jɯɲikɯɾo]) is a Japanese casual wear designer, manufacturer and retailer.[2] The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Fast Retailing Co., Ltd.[3]

History[edit]

Uniqlo flagship store in Shinsaibashisuji, Osaka

Origins in Japan[edit]

A Yamaguchi-based company, Ogori Shōji (which, until then, had been operating men's clothing shops called "Men's Shop OS") was founded in March 1949 in Ube, Yamaguchi.[4]

In May 1984, it opened a unisex casual wear store in Fukuro-machi, Naka-ku, Hiroshima under the name "Unique Clothing Warehouse".[5] Initially, the brand was going to be registered as a shortened contraction of "unique clothing".[6] However, in 1988, during administration work in Hong Kong for registering the brand, staff in charge of registration misread the "C" as "Q", and that is how the brand name was born.[7] Tadashi Yanai then changed the store name to "uniqlo" across Japan.[8] 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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed] Uniqlo had begun outsourcing their clothing manufacturing to factories in China where labour was cheap, a well-established corporate practice.[citation needed] Japan was in the depths of a recession at the time, and the low-cost goods proved popular.[9] Their advertising campaigns, clothing quality and new retail layouts also proved fruitful.[10]

In creating its clothing lines, Uniqlo embraces both shun and kino-bi. Shun [旬] means 'timing, best timing, but also at the same time it's a trend,' something that's updated and just in time, neither early nor late. The company offers clothing basics, but basics that are current, that respond to what's going on today in art and design. Kino-bi [機能美] means function and beauty, joined together: the clothing is presented in an organized, rational manner, and that very organization and rationality creates an artistic pattern and rhythm. All these qualities reflect the defining characteristics of modern Japanese culture, modern 'Japaneseness.'

— Nobuo Domae, CEO, Uniqlo USA (April 2007)[1]

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.[citation needed] In 2001, sales turnover and gross profit reached a new peak, with over 500 retail stores in Japan.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed] 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.[11] 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.[citation needed]

Uniqlo jeans at their Tokyo store

On 2 September 2009, Fast Retailing announced that the company would target annual group sales of 5 trillion yen (approx. US$61.2 billion) and pretax profit from operations of 1 trillion yen (approx. US$12.2 billion) 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.[12]

In October 2018, Uniqlo collaborated with designer Alexander Wang to create a line of Heattech layerable basics including tank tops, leggings, underwear and bodysuits.[13]

International operations[edit]

Map of countries with Uniqlo stores

As of 30 November 2019, the company reported that 2249 Uniqlo stores were operational worldwide.[14]

Australia[edit]

Uniqlo in Perth, Australia

Uniqlo opened its first Australian store in Melbourne in April 2014.[15] In 2015, it expanded into Queensland, with the introduction of two shops in Brisbane.[15] Uniqlo opened a shop in Chadstone Shopping Centre in Melbourne, Victoria, the largest shopping centre in the southern hemisphere, in October 2016 when it was redeveloped.[16] There are currently 22 stores in Australia, including in Sydney and Perth. There is also a Uniqlo store in the Eastland Shopping Centre in Ringwood.[17]

Bangladesh[edit]

Uniqlo started their first store at the New Elephant road in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on 5 July 2013. Uniqlo is known as Grameen Uniqlo there due to their social business concept JV with Grameen Bank. There are currently 15 stores in Dhaka, 1 store in Gazipur and 1 in Narsingdi.[18]

Belgium[edit]

The first Belgian Uniqlo store opened in October 2015 at Meir, Antwerp.[19] A second store followed suit at the Wijnegem Shopping Center on 25 March in the same year.[20] 19 October 2017 saw the opening of a third store in Brussels.[21]

Canada[edit]

Uniqlo in Canada

Uniqlo opened their first Canadian store at the Toronto Eaton Centre on 30 September 2016, followed by a second store at the Yorkdale Shopping Centre on 20 October 2016.[22] 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.[23] Three new stores in Ontario opened in 2018 at Vaughan Mills, CF Markville and Square One Shopping Centre.[24] Uniqlo opened the new Oshawa location at the Oshawa Centre in March 2019 and opened the new Newmarket location at the Upper Canada Mall in April 2019, bringing the total number of stores in Ontario to seven.[25] A third Canadian store, the first outside of Ontario and the first in Western Canada, opened at Burnaby's Metropolis at Metrotown in October 2017 [26] to be followed by Surrey's Guildford Town Centre[27] and Richmond Centre[28] in Richmond, BC. A new store opened at Coquitlam Centre in Coquitlam, BC on 14 September 2018.[29][30] A new West Edmonton Mall store opened on 27 September 2019.[31][32] A new location is set to open at the Eaton Centre in Montreal in late 2020.

China[edit]

Uniqlo in Sanlitun, Beijing, China

Uniqlo entered the Chinese mainland market in 2002. As of August 2017, there were 555 stores in China, including in Beijing, Guangzhou, Chongqing, Chengdu, Nanjing, Ningbo, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Shijia, Tianjin and Xi'an.[33]

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.[34][35]

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'.[36] The New York Times noted that the store's exterior had become a popular venue for people to gather and take pictures in sexual poses reminiscent of the video.[37]

Hong Kong SAR[edit]

Uniqlo tram advertising in Hong Kong

Uniqlo has 27 stores in Hong Kong SAR as of May 2018.[38]

France[edit]

On 17 November 2014, Uniqlo opened its first store in Eastern France (and the second store in France outside Greater Paris) in the city of Strasbourg.[39]

Germany[edit]

Their German flagship store opened on 11 April 2014 at Tauentzienstraße, Berlin.[40] By 2019 the company operated 9 stores in Germany, 6 of those in Berlin.[41]

India[edit]

Uniqlo opened a store in India in Oct 2019, following the company's announcement about the same on 9 May 2018.[42] The company will set up a wholly owned subsidiary in India.[43] It clocked sales of ₹2.2 crore in the first two days of opening its maiden store in the country. The Japanese retailer has opened two more outlets in the Delhi NCR region, one in DLF Avenue Mall in Saket and another smaller store in DLF CyberHub in Gurgaon.

Indonesia[edit]

On 22 June 2013, Uniqlo opened its first Indonesian store at Lotte Shopping Avenue, Jakarta. It has 30 stores as of 2020, spreading east to Makassar, Denpasar and Surabaya, and west to Medan, Batam and Pekanbaru.[44]

Italy[edit]

The first Uniqlo store in Italy was opened in Piazza Cordusio, Milan on 13 September 2019.

Malaysia[edit]

On 4 November 2010, Uniqlo opened its first store in Malaysia in Fahrenheit 88[45][46] located in Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur. Uniqlo now has 47 outlets located across Malaysia.[47]

The Netherlands[edit]

The first Dutch Uniqlo store was opened in Amsterdam on 28 September 2018. The official opening was marred by protests against Uniqlo's unethical business practices in their factory in Jakarta, Indonesia.

The Philippines[edit]

Uniqlo's first store in the Philippines opened at the SM Mall of Asia on 15 June 2012.[48] On its sixth anniversary, the company opened its flagship store in the country at Glorietta 5 in Makati, it opened on 5 October 2018. The store is the biggest in Southeast Asia.[49]

Uniqlo has 60 stores across the Philippines as of October 2019.[50]

Uniqlo has partnered with the SM Group's SM Retail Inc. to bring the brand in the Philippines.[51]

Russia[edit]

On 2 April 2010, Uniqlo opened its first store in Moscow, Russia. By August 2019 there were 36 Uniqlo outlets in the country, 20 of them in Moscow.[52]

Singapore[edit]

On 9 April 2009, Uniqlo opened its first store at Tampines 1.[53] Its first flagship store in Singapore and Southeast Asia opened 7 years later on 2 September 2016 at Orchard Central.[54] As of 2017, Uniqlo has 25 stores located island wide.[55]

South Korea[edit]

In November 2011, Uniqlo generated more than 2 billion won ($1.7 million) in one day's sales on 11 November 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. Uniqlo sales over US$1.2 billion with 150 shops in South Korea. Lotte owns 49% of Uniqlo's Korean subdiary.[56] It currently operates 180 stores in South Korea.

Taiwan[edit]

On 7 October 2010, Uniqlo opened its first store at Hankyu Department Store. Uniqlo has 67 store fronts in Taiwan as of June 2018.[57]

Thailand[edit]

On 9 September 2011, Uniqlo opened its first store at CentralWorld. Its largest flagship store in Thailand and Southeast Asia. Uniqlo has 46 store fronts in Thailand as of January 2019.[58]. Uniqlo newest store in Thailand is at Samyan Mitrtown, opened on 15 November 2019.

Spain[edit]

Uniqlo began operations in Spain in 2016[59] with its on-line store and in September 2017 opened its flagship store in Barcelona[59] (Passeig de Gràcia). Nowadays, it also owns a two more stores in Barcelona[60][61] and one store in Madrid.

United Kingdom[edit]

Uniqlo currently has 13 shops in England as of 2019. Ambitious expansion plans in the early 2000s were reversed, with 16 shops being closed in 2003,[62] including those in Manchester,[63] Coventry,[64] and Leicester. Uniqlo opened a brand new shop in Manchester on Market Street in April 2019.[65]

United States[edit]

Uniqlo's flagship store in Chicago on the Magnificent Mile

In September 2005, Uniqlo opened the doors to its first United States store in the Menlo Park Mall located in Edison, NJ.[66] 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.[67]

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,[68] soon after the company began an expansion in the United States.

In October 2015, Uniqlo opened its first store in the Midwest with a Chicago store on Michigan Avenue.[69]

In October 2019, Uniqlo signed a lease for its first North American distribution center in Phillipsburg, NJ, leasing a space of over 950,000 sq ft. [70]

Vietnam[edit]

Uniqlo opened its first store in Ho Chi Minh city in December 2019. The store is located in Parkson Dong Khoi with three floors. Uniqlo has 2 stores in Ho Chi Minh city and 1 store in Ha Noi as of July 2020.

Denmark[edit]

Uniqlo opened their first store in Denmark in April 2019. The store is located on Strøget in central Copenhagen. The store includes three storeys.

Sweden[edit]

The first Uniqlo store in Sweden opened in August 2018 in Stockholm and covers three storeys.

Controversies[edit]

In January 2015, a number of labor rights violations were reported at Uniqlo suppliers in China.[71][72][73][74] Uniqlo pledged to remedy the violations.[75][76]

In June 2015, Uniqlo factory workers went on strike in relation to lay-offs.[77][78]

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.[79][80]

In October 2016 the report 'This Way to Dystopia: Exposing UNIQLO's Abuse of Chinese Garment Workers'[81] 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.

In 2019, a number of Australian workers reported that bullying and harassment is rife, there were "shouting rooms", and a toxic work culture. They claimed they had to work 18-hour days, had to fold 7 shirts a minute, and everyone leaves with "some form of PTSD".[82]

Window sign in Shinjuku, 2010.

Notable projects[edit]

Artist collaborations

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

Launching on 20 January 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.[83]

Awards[edit]

The German fashion designer Jil Sander 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 the 2011 Brit Insurance Design Fashion Award.[84]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]

  • Media related to UNIQLO at Wikimedia Commons