Lines formed outside Uniqlo’s three Manhattan stores for Friday morning’s launch and some stores sold out of select items by lunchtime, according to Justin Kerr, director of merchandising. There were also lines intermittently throughout the weekend as stock was replenished, and a velvet rope was set up in the SoHo store to keep everyone orderly.
“It was our best example of how high the demand was. With this launch, we put up a special landing page 30 days before. It received such a strong reception from so many different people. We were really excited to see so much engagement before the collaboration started. That carried through to the online sales,” Kerr said. “We launched it at midnight on Thursday, and by 8 a.m. Friday there were very exciting results even in those eight hours when everyone was presumably sleeping. Some must have missed some sleep to order Lemaire.”
Knitwear and outerwear were the strongest categories, with a $170 cashmere blended robe coat and a $70 cashmere blend square sweater being two bestsellers. An assortment of the 31-piece women’s collection is still being sold in New York, in three California stores and online. Before last weekend’s launch, Uniqlo revealed it will offer a spring collection with Lemaire, which is led by Christophe Lemaire and Sarah-linh Tran.
“Monday’s global recap showed that across the U.S., Europe, China and Japan — it was a success everywhere,” Kerr said.”It was a global phenomenon. We were all very excited and wanted to see, ‘How do we keep the momentum going not only with the next collection but also chasing the fall collection as we move into the holidays?’ That was something we wanted to achieve very quickly and Uniqlo’s fantastic operation allows us to have that flexibility.”
One Oct. 2 noontime shopper at the Fifth Avenue store compared the frenzy to a Black Friday-type setting, with the crowd practically “pulsating” while staffers hurriedly opened boxes and threw piles of clothes onto display tables. Even the company’s media preview Thursday night drew a crowd of 200, considering many editors are still in Europe at the collections.
To flag the collaboration, a banner was posted outside the lower Broadway store in Soho, and as word spread about which stores still had what via social media some shoppers chased the business around the city, Kerr said. “What was a pleasant surprise about the collaboration was whether you were a fan of Uniqlo or of Lemaire previously, or whether you just like great fashion, this collection spoke to everybody,” he said. “This was definitely a collection where there weren’t one or two standout pieces. But almost across the board we were seeing sell-throughs, which is very rarely the case. Usually, you have winners and losers. With this one, really the whole collection was well-received. There were no disappointments. There were only pleasant surprises of things that even outpaced our high expectations.”
Lemaire and Tran did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
“Certainly, this was one of our highest expectations for the season and for it to be able to outpace expectations after 24 hours in the store, let alone 72 [hours] speaks to how popular the collection has been and how much demand there is for this type of luxury that is made for all,” Kerr said.