Uniqlo is moving into markets north and south of the New York metropolitan area, where the brand established its U.S. presence.
This story first appeared in the May 7, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The Japanese fast-fashion company said it will open six stores in Boston and three in Philadelphia, while continuing to unveil units in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and San Francisco. The company previously revealed that it will open five locations in Southern California.
Bostonians will get a preview of the brand when a pop-up shop opens at Faneuil Hall in Boston in summer 2015. In the fall there will be openings at the Natick Mall in Natick, the Mall at Chestnut Hill in Newton, the Northshore Mall in Peabody, and Legacy Place in Dedham, all in Massachusetts. A flagship will bow in spring 2015 at 341 Newbury Street in Boston’s Back Bay, when a permanent Faneuil Hall location will open.
Stores will open in the fall at 1608 Chestnut Street in Center City, Philadelphia and the Willow Grove Park Mall in Willow Grove, Pa. A store at the King of Prussia Mall in King of Prussia, Pa. will open next week.
“We’re looking at various markets,” said Larry Meyer, chief executive officer of Uniqlo USA and Fast Retailing group senior vice president, adding that the company plans to expand on both coasts, but won’t limit itself if a great location comes up in another new market.
Uniqlo’s current obsession is art. Its SPRZ NY T-shirts with major artworks are on sale through a collaboration with the Museum of Modern Art. “We had a global desire to have art meet apparel,” Meyer said. While Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat were popular, Meyer was surprised that Sarah Morris and Jackson Pollock “saw a little broader use. We’re happy that there’s a more sophisticated look to our historic UT collection.” Pharrell Williams, a spokesman and collaborator for the brand’s “I Am Other” Uniqlo Ts, “gave a different look to the product,” Meyer said. The next round of artists to be featured will be an international set, Meyer said, adding that the project is an extension of Tadashi Yanai, chairman, president and ceo of Uniqlo parent Fast Retailing, who is an art lover.
At a recent preview of the fall collection, Uniqlo showed quilting on jackets and coats, Selvage denim, and Smart Style, a new line of casual wear-to-work clothes in fabrics such as houndstooth. Within the Inès de la Fressange collection, now in its second season, there is a black group that includes tuxedo pants and long dresses. The Heattech line now comes in extra warm.
Yuki Katsuta, head of research and design at Uniqlo, said the brand is looking for a designer to fill the role held by Jil Sander, who left the company in 2011. “Once we meet someone, we’re ready,” Katsuta said. “We wish to have a [partnership] with somebody again.”