Uniqlo first opened its doors in Hiroshima in 1984, but has quickly become a global brand. Photo courtesy: WMC
Uniqlo is coming to Toronto in fall 2016 and opening two flagship stores: one at Yorkdale Mall and the other at the Toronto Eaton Centre.
The fashion retailer has stores all around the world with 1,500 outlets spanning several continents, but these will be the first to open on Canada turf. There are currently 39 outlets open in the United States with locations from coast to coast.
Uniqlo will be the second major retailer to open its doors to Canadians with IKEA-like Muji bringing a storefront to the Atrium on Bay in downtown Toronto. It’s a fashion brand that’s growing and with an increasing number of Japanese people in Toronto, the city is becoming a perfect test market for Canada.
“Uniqlo is growing and I thought — we all thought — that Canada was a terrific market, especially starting in Toronto,” Larry Meyer, chief executive officer of Uniqlo USA and Canada, said in an interview with The Star. “It’s in reasonable proximity to our New York City flagship store on 5th (Ave.) and we thought it would be a natural expansion.
But what is Uniqlo?
For Canadians who might not be familiar with the brand, Uniqlo first opened its doors in 1984 in Hiroshima, Japan. Tadashi Yanai, founder of Fast Retailing, which Uniqulo is a subsidiary, first called the fashion outlet “Unique clothing warehouse”, but is now known worldwide as Uniqlo.
Uniqlo sells cheap and simple clothing with many colour variations.
The company also has clothes geared for both the summer and winter months. For the winter, the company sells what they call “Heat Tech” clothes, which keep you warm and comfy, and for the summer they sells “Airism” apparel. When they were first unveiled, Japanese were surprised just how well the technology in the clothing works.
I actually gave a piece of “Heat Tech” clothing to my Canadian roommate for this long winter season. He was surprised at how well it functioned saying that it made him warm and comfortable. He said that he had to go to New York to buy more, so he can’t wait Uniqlo comes to Toronto.
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And this is the problem with Uniqlo until now. Currently the company has stores in the United States and the United Kingdom, but not in Canada where people could really use warm clothing for winter and cool clothing for the summer.
Canada’s winter is really, really cold and most Canadians can buy brands like UnderArmour, but that brand isn’t fashionable like Uniqlo.
According to the company’s website there are 849 retail locations open, and the 850th might just be in Toronto.