Uniqlo to Go looks like a soda machine, and works like one, except it dispenses jackets and underwear.The automated apparel vending machines are being deployed by the Japanese retail giant to high-traffic areas that may not warrant a store or have the square footage to accommodate one.Uniqlo, which prides itself on fabric innovations such as Heat Tech, is trying to find ways to distribute its products by giving consumers another way to purchase them. Uniqlo to Go vending machines will sell Lifewear, the retailer's signature apparel line, at select airports and shopping centers nationwide.Ten Uniqlo to Go units are launching in the first wave at locations including the Oakland Airport, where the vending machine bows today; Hollywood and Highland Center in Los Angeles on Aug. 10; Houston Airport, Aug. 17, and Queens Center, Elmhurst, N.Y., Aug. 22. The six remaining locations will be revealed shortly, the company said.
A spokeswoman said Uniqlo is working directly with airports and mall owners to identify the busiest locations in their spaces. "We're already talking with amusement parks, train stations, entertainment conventions and movie theaters about additional opportunities," she said. "The goal is to open new markets and use machines as an introduction to our products."
"These locations will place Uniqlo products in high-traffic locations to better meet the needs of customers when and where they shop. We're looking forward to introducing a new and easier way of shopping,” said Hiroshi Taki, chief executive officer of Uniqlo USA. “Uniqlo to Go machines will carry the best of Lifewear, providing convenience to travelers looking for a warm jacket without the bulk, or a versatile undershirt, all with the push of a button. Our aim is to answer the real needs of our customers through clothing and we hope to broaden the reach of that mission through this new concept.”
Uniqlo has experimented with pop-up concepts since it launched in the U.S., including experiments such as UT Truck Stops, which in 2013 sold T-shirts from the UT collection featuring Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol. Also, Uniqlo Cubes, which in 2011 surfaced prior to the opening of the retailer's Fifth Avenue flagship, were six cube-shaped pop-up shops with high-tech surfaces that glowed brightly at night that turned up around Manhattan.
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