SHANGHAI — Declaring ambitions to create Asia’s most globally recognized brand, Japanese retailer Uniqlo on Thursday launched an online store for China in partnership with Mainland Internet giant Taobao.com.
“Just as everyone drinks coffee, and that has been turned into Starbucks, everyone wears clothes, and that can be made into a universal Uniqlo experience,” said Jack Ma, or Ma Yun in Chinese, chairman and chief executive of Taobao’s parent Alibaba Group.
“Look at McDonalds, Starbucks and such, they are all U.S. brands. We hope a Chinese or Japanese brand will become like them,” added Tadashi Yanai, founder of Uniqlo and president of its parent company Fast Retailing Co. Ltd.
Under the partnership, Uniqlo will have both a virtual shop on Taobao, plus a dedicated China Web site, uniqlo.cn, which will operate and sell through Taobao’s system.
Uniqlo opted to operate through Taobao in order to avail itself of the Web site’s user base of 100 million, who conducted 99.96 billion yuan, or $14.6 billion at current exchange, in transactions last year, according to the company. In recognition of limited credit card use in China, the new Uniqlo online store allows shoppers to purchase through their existing Taobao accounts. The collaboration additionally emerged out of Tadashi and Ma’s friendship since meeting at a conference two years ago, both emphasized.
“We have stores in cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, but online we can reach all of China — even in Tibet and Xinjiang we will have customers,” said Tadashi.
Pan Ning, Uniqlo’s China director, said the retailer had 21 stores in Mainland China as of June 2008, and that will have increased to 45 by June this year, out of 848 internationally, and is launching next week in Singapore. The brand’s Mainland sales doubled year-on-year in 2008.
“Within Asia, China is our main focus. The Internet provides great opportunities for both marketing and sales. It is a way to be available to consumers,” said Pan, who denied the Web platform might compete with Uniqlo’s expanding retail network. “The Web develops fast, and the relationship between the Internet and physical stores is symbiotic.”
The Web site launch marks not only the beginning of Uniqlo’s online presence in China, but also Taobao’s first dedicated site for an independent brand. Ma hopes to establish about a hundred such online shops through the site. “Taobao is not just consumer-to-consumer, but increasingly business-to-consumer,” he said. “Combining the Web with consumers is powerful.”
“At first we were modeled upon eBay,” continued Taobao president Lu Zhaoxi, “but three or four years ago we started wanting to become bigger than that, and not just be consumer-to-consumer.”
While Uniqlo is the trial effort for that, Ma added the brand has its own niche positioning. “If Uniqlo can spark the dreams of young Chinese people, then this will be successful,” he said.
Taking the final spot on the mens’ portion of New York Fashion Week calendar next month will be none other than @tomford. Though he’s shown his men’s wear in New York in the past, this will mark the first time the designer has shown his men’s collection alone during New York Fashion Week: Men’s. His runway show will debut on February 6 at the Park Avenue Armory. #wwdfashion
London-based couture house @ralphandrusso has certainly been in the spotlight, having its dresses worn by @beyonce, Angelina Jolie, Meghan Markle in her engagement photos and more. For couture, Tamara Ralph focused on ornamentation — think: feathers with chain mail, jet embroidery and clusters of pearls and crystals. See the rest of the collection on WWD.com #wwdfashion #couture (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo)
Minnie Mouse celebrated her 90th birthday by getting her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. For her celebratory luncheon, @coach’s creative director @stuartvevers dressed her in a custom made prairie dress, complete with Vever’s take on the polka dot – black sequined versions – under a cropped motorcycle jacket. The designer also put his own mark on Minnie’s classic red shoes, infusing the color with sparkles and adding some Coach crystals. “We chose colors that were very Minnie and also represented quintessential Coach elements,” said Vevers. #wwdfashion #nationalpolkadotday (📷: George Chinsee)
@nickjonas is unveiling his first-ever apparel collection through a partnership with John Varvatos. The limited-edition capsule, which makes its debut in spring, also marks the first time the designer has collaborated with anyone on a line. “The process in working with Nick is amazing. It’s inspiring to be around someone who is not only connected with the trade that they do, but also with what’s happening in the environment around him, and how that connects to what we do with style,” said Varvatos. (RG: @johnvarvatos) #wwdfashion
@margotrobbie steps out onto the red carpet wearing @miumiu. The actress is nominated for “Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role” in “I, Tonya” at the #SagAwards. (📷: Stewart Cook) #wwdfashion
For @massimogiorgetti of @msgm, the Nineties are his favorite decade. “They had a huge impact on my personal growth. What I like of the Nineties is that they are not so precise in terms of style as other decades…there was actually a bit of everything,” he said. As seen on MSGM’s Spring 2018 show: tie-dye and a bit of grunge, two styles that are synonymous with the decade #wwdfashion #wwddecades (📷: @kukukuba)