COSTA MESA, Calif. — Uniqlo opened its first Southern California store at South Coast Plaza Friday. The 18,000-square-foot store is the 25th U.S. location for the Japanese specialty retailer and the fifth retail location that has opened this year as part of the brand’s 18-store rollout scheduled through November.
“We love this shopping center,” said Larry Meyer, chief executive officer of Uniqlo U.S. “It’s a global shopping center from both the brands [housed here] and where customers come from, so we felt it was an appropriate place to start our Southern California launch.”
The company will continue its SoCal rollout with a 30,000-square-foot Los Angeles flagship scheduled for October at Beverly Center. Los Cerritos Center, Northridge Fashion Center and the Glendale Galleria will follow. There are already seven Uniqlo stores in Northern California and two more opening there this year.
While Beverly Hills may boast the larger footprint, the South Coast Plaza store is the only location to offer Uniqlo’s Pure Blue Japan collection, which is hand-dyed in Japan with natural indigo. It is also one of a few locations to offer the brand’s UT T-shirt customization kiosk where users can create original T-shirt designs directly in the store.
Meyer said he would have loved a larger location at South Coast Plaza, but the space was not available. “If we could have been bigger, we would have been bigger.”
Uniqlo, owned by Fast Retailing Co., Ltd., currently operates 1,400 stores in 16 markets worldwide.
The 150 people lined up outside the store flocked to the staples at 10 a.m., but the new store also houses many of the retailer’s popular collaborations — from the Disney collection to its collaborations with designers such as Michael Bastian and Ines de la Fressange. Saturday’s grand opening is expected to draw 1,500 customers.
Fittingly, Josh Silverman, Disney’s Executive Vice President of Licensing for Disney Consumer Products, was on hand to ring in the opening as well. “Uniqlo represents style, quality and fun,” he said. “We’re proud to partner with them.”
While the fall shopping season is just starting and the summer temps are still simmering in Southern California, Meyer said he feels upbeat about the holiday season.
“Given the markets we’re in, I feel good about the holidays. We’re not a national retailer in a bricks and mortar sense — in an e-commerce sense we are — but the fact that we’re in the major cities and seem to be doing OK is good.”