Fast fashion, Japanese style
Friday, June 15, 2012
Source: BusinessWorld By Raoul J. Chee Kee, Sub-editor
ONE OF the most awaited foreign clothing brands opens its first Philippine store today and lines are expected to snake all the way to the main entrance of the SM Mall of Asia.
This is not uncommon for Uniqlo, one of five brands under the Japanese retail holding company Fast Retailing Co. Ltd. (FR). Every time they open a new branch, queues form as early as the day before the actual opening. Shoppers are enticed by a limited number of complimentary premium items, and prices for some of their most popular items are slashed for a limited time.
When Uniqlo, which now has over 1,100 stores worldwide, opened a four-story branch in Seoul on a particularly cold day, it wisely gave out blankets to hundreds of shivering early risers.
This time, the first 500 customers from June 15 to 17 will receive a specially designed tote. The bag will also be given to shoppers who spend a minimum of P2,000 in a single receipt.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Tadashi Yanai, chairman, president and chief executive officer of FR, said through an interpreter that he hoped the opening of the first Philippine branch would signal the turning of the tide of “bad news” following the upsets of boxer Manny Pacquiao to Timothy Bradley in their title fight and tennis player Novak Djokovic to Rafael Nadal at the French Open.
“I hope we can recover from this spate of bad news with the opening of Uniqlo on Friday,” Mr. Yanai quipped.
The store on the second level of the mall measures a sprawling 1,550 square meters but not all of the brand’s merchandise is on display. Instead, the team from Fast Retailing Philippines, Inc. headed by its Chief Operating Officer Katsumi Kubota, chose 300 of its best-selling products.
“We want Uniqlo to be the number one brand in the world by 2020 and we hope to achieve this by securing our rank in Japan first, Asia next, followed by the world,” Mr. Kubota said.
He added, however, that their idea of being number one is not just about volume sales but also being the “favorite apparel brand of people all over the world.” They plan to achieve this by adhering to the Uniqlo philosophy of providing clothing that is “Made for All regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or any other ways that define an individual.”
Near the front of the store is UT (Uniqlo T-shirts), a wide range of round neck statement or character tees featuring Snoopy and Hello Kitty. Beside them are stacks of the brand’s neatly folded denim jeans arranged by color for easy identification. The shirts and jeans which normally retail for P790 and P990, respectively, are priced for one week (until June 21) at P590. Jeans for both men and women will be available at the promo price until July 5.
It is obvious that comfort is an important consideration of the brand, especially with store exclusives like breathable tops and undergarments under the self-explanatory categories Dry Pique Polo Shirt and AIRism.
Women are also spoiled for choice with the store’s line of branded Bra Tops that provide support without the need to wear an actual bra. For one week as well, the Dry Pique Polo Shirts and the Bra Tops that are regularly priced at P990 will be sold at P590 each.
If expansion plans push through, according to Mr. Kubota, FR will put up 50 Uniqlo branches in the next three years.
Until then, shoppers can find out what the fuss is all about by heading to the SM Mall of Asia.