TOKYO – Japan’s casual clothing network, Uniqlo, will open a new outlet on Friday in the Tokyo Harajuku neighborhood, marking eight years of going home in the making to a dynamic city center for youth fashion.
Ahead of the event, the company on Wednesday held a store preview, open to the media. “The Harajuku shop is a very symbolic location for Uniqlo,” said CEO Maki Akaida.
Owned by Fast sales, Uniqlo was launched in 1984 with its first outlet in Hiroshima and has since concentrated on suburban street-level shops.
To increase its name recognition in central urban areas, Uniqlo opened its first Harajuku store in 1998, which helped drive the fur chain boom, but the Harajuku store closed in 2012.
This new store is located in a used complex “With Harajuku” near Harajuku Station. The sales space of almost 2,000 square meters occupies one floor above the ground and one floor below.
Uniqlo plans to use Harajuku stores as a testing ground for retail concepts that integrate physical and virtual reality.
The company designed the sales floor to be compatible with StyleHint, an application developed jointly with the sister brand GU. This application allows users to upload photos wearing their favorite clothes, which other people can search for clothing ideas. It then matches the selected photo with similar clothes sold by Uniqlo or GU.
This store offers more than 200 touch screen tablets that showcase photos uploaded through StyleHint. If customers see what they like, the monitor can direct them to the correct clothes rack. Customers can also buy clothes through the Uniqlo online shopping portal using a QR payment code.
This location also contains a special space for UT t-shirts, the Uniqlo brand created in collaboration with artists and brands. Many t-shirts will feature Japanese cultural motifs as well as art from manga.
Harajuku is an attraction for international tourists as a center of pop culture. The UT corner will be the center of the Uniqlo store that caters to the crowd.
Because of the coronavirus outbreak, Uniqlo temporarily closed 311 of 813 outlets across the country. The pandemic sharply reduced sales in physical stores, but sales surged on online shopping sites.
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