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NEW YORK — When it comes to marketing itself in the U.S., Uniqlo hasn’t missed a trick.
Pop-up shops, prefabricated roving stores and advertising blitzes on taxicab roofs and subway entrances are part of the arsenal that has been employed to raise awareness of the brand in advance of next month’s opening of a 36,000-square-foot Uniqlo flagship on Broadway in SoHo.
Now the Japanese casualwear retailer has tapped Lutz & Patmos, Kino, Alice Roi, Phillip Lim and GVGV to design capsule collections for women as part of its spring Designer Invitation Project, which is being launched in conjunction with the SoHo store opening.
Uniqlo is taking a page from another foreign transplant, H&M, which made waves by hiring designers such as Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney and Viktor & Rolf, names not usually associated with fast fashion, to create collections for the H&M label.
Target has also brought class to the masses with the Isaac Mizrahi label and Go! International, its program of rotating designers. So far, Luella Bartley, Tara Jarmon and Sophie Albou have participated. Next up is Behnaz Sarafpour.
Uniqlo’s capsule collections will be available at all of its stores worldwide. The company views the project as a cross-cultural exchange, exposing American consumers to young Japanese designers and Tokyo culture, and vice versa.
Each capsule collection will remain in stores for one month and will feature eight looks, a spokeswoman said. The items can be mixed and matched within a collection and will be complemented by Uniqlo products.
The collections will draw on the strength of each designer. The first, from Lutz & Patmos, will bow in February, and focus on sweaters. The designers are known for modern knitwear in luxury fibers. In March, Japanese designer Kino will design tops and skirts in knit fabrics; Alice Roi in April will offer dresses and separates; Phillip Lim in May will develop an abbreviated collection of his label 3.1 Phillip Lim, including dresses with bubble hems, and GVGV from Japan will feature crisp shorts with bibs.
Three men’s wear designers were also announced: Cloak’s Alexander Plokhov, and Satoru Tanaka and HALB from Japan.
“I’m excited to have the opportunity to work with these esteemed and talented young designers,” said Yuki Katsuta, president of Uniqlo Design Studio N.Y. “I look forward to seeing each collection and the unique vision and interpretation they see for the broader Uniqlo customer.”
Nobuo Domae, Uniqlo’s U.S. chief executive officer, said the project will underscore the company’s philosophy of balancing “high style and high quality merchandise at affordable prices.”
Uniqlo is owned by Fast Retailing, whose other brands include Comptoir des Cotonniers in France and One Zone in Japan.