Marin Minamiya, the youngest Japanese person to ever summit Mount Everest, has broken another barrier: she has become Uniqlo’s first female global ambassador. It has taken the Japanese brand a while to end its streak of all-male brand emissaries, including tennis stars Novak Djokovic and Kei Nishikori.
Minamiya, 19, is currently enrolled in the school of political science and economics at Waseda University, which is also the alma mater of Tadashi Yanai, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Uniqlo’s corporate parent Fast Retailing.
Yanai told WWD last year that he was looking for a female to join the ranks, but hadn’t yet found someone whose values and personality matched those of the brand.
“It’s not just about achievements,” Yanai said last year. “In addition to being at the top of their sports, our ambassadors are all gentlemen, so a female ambassador should be a lady.”
Uniqlo signed on Djokovic as an ambassador in 2012. Nishikori, golfer Adam Scott and wheelchair tennis champion Shingo Kunieda are all under contract with Uniqlo to represent the brand.
Minamiya trekked up Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak, in May. She said she has long been a fan of the fast-fashion brand’s functional basics.
“I’ve been a Uniqlo devotee for some time, relying on the amazing functionality of its clothing in the harsh environs of Everest and other mountains or when I’m training or simply out and about,” she said via a Uniqlo press release.
Yanai said the partnership with Minamiya could extend to product development for the brand.
“Her desire to keep taking on challenges perfectly matches the relentless Uniqlo commitment to innovation. We look forward to collaborating with her to develop new LifeWear items that leverage advanced technologies while helping her to realize her dreams,” said the executive, who is Japan’s richest man according to Forbes’ ranking of billionaires.