Eager shoppers lined up for hours, waiting for the flagship Uniqlo store in Manila to officially open 10 days ago, undeterred by protests from animal rights activists from PETA. At a press conference two days before, the protesters had threatened to organize a boycott of the Japanese fast fashion retail giant for using Australian wool from mulesed sheep. Two protesters showed up at the opening, shouting “Stop Mulesing” and “Stop Using Sheep,” but security personnel ejected them.

By the time Tadashi Yanai, chief executive officer of Fast Retailing, Inc, Uniqlo’s parent company, arrived to cut the ceremonial ribbon, together with other company representatives from Japan and the Philippines, the lines had snaked around the outside of the store and stretched all along the second floor of the massive Mall of Asia. The lines showed no sign of receding by evening.

The first shoppers reportedly began lining up outside the 16,400-square-foot store as early as 4 am.  Within several hours, the crowd had already numbered over a thousand, and guards were stationed outside to ensure that shoppers entered the store in an orderly a fashion as possible once the doors opened. There was some panic buying, nevertheless, as customers sought to snap up many of the opening day specials, such as selected items being offered for the special price of Php 590 ($14) throughout the store. Other promotions included free ice cream for the first 500 customers, plus a free tote bag with a single receipt purchase of Php 2,000 ($47), valid only till the next day.

The Mall of Asia store is the first of 50 Uniqlo stores scheduled to open in Manila in the next three years. Mango, Zara, Topshop and Forever 21 are among the fast-fashion retailers who have established a strong presence in the Philippines.

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