Store Review

Uniqlo London

Look the business

Situated on London’s Oxford Street, the new flagship store from Uniqlo follows the company’s well-known strategy – easy to shop, simple products that are logically displayed in volume. The basic areas are nothing new for Uniqlo but the company has added alternative impact here in some fantastic, innovative ways – in part thanks to its collaboration with London department store Liberty, bridging the love of authenticity with creativity through the launch of an entire sub-collection. Further partnerships with well-known artists, designers and brands spice up their basic T-shirt ranges to create areas that are anything but basic. Keith Haring designs sit alongside Disney and Moomin products to create a concept that is unmistakably playing to their Japanese heritage.

Overall, the store is a ‘special combo’ of diligent staff and walls of organised and attractively merchandised product towering to the ceiling. Although ‘unreachable and unshoppable’ may not make commercial sense, the impact of these well-ordered displays distracts from detailed inspection that reveals products are less than perfect at eye level.

What truly allows Uniqlo’s latest flagship to dazzle is the introduction of a brand new concept space, offering a store within a store experience unlike anything you would expect from the brand. The space, Uniqlo WearHouse is the first of its kind. It’s primarily accessed through its own separate entrance, complete with vintage tiled floor, that opposes against the bright, modern simplicity that the brand is known for. The floor space itself is more reminiscent of lifestyle brands such as And Other Stories and Urban Outfitters, and pays homage to the London urbanist lifestyle with the title ‘Life on two wheels’ featuring cycling props and merchandise, providing a mix of old school and new vintage cool.

Down an iron staircase, past vintage leather chairs and cosy rugs is a retail style curated exhibition, ‘London Lives’, centred around six up and coming Londoners (models, actors, designers etc.), each with a dedicated wall space presenting selected garments from the Uniqlo range that best represent the ‘Londoners’. Supporting tables feature carefully chosen but non-typical Uniqlo products , but apparently the Vaseline tubs, disposable cameras, books and gadgets, to name a few, accurately represent their appropriate rising star.

Whilst these two concepts do seem strange in one building it’s easy to see how they would appeal to the same customer. The quirky, fun loving fashionistas that enjoy the nods to Japanese culture will also embrace anything quintessentially British. Both areas are creative, eccentric and fashionable yet entirely opposite aesthetically. It’s an interesting idea albeit one that is unlikely to be rolled out in every store, due to both architectural and locational issues. But Flagship stores should be a cut above the norm, a destination that provokes interest and conversation about a brand, and this is one does it in a very surprising yet satisfying way.

To view more images from our visit to Uniqlo, Oxford street, click here or, to find out more about the store and its upcoming events, click here.

By Suzanne Tanner

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