09 April 2010

Uniqlo sales up up and away!

Uniqlo announced this week that company's global net profit in the three months to 30 November totalled 34.85bn yen (£234m), up 57% from a year before. In case anyone hadn’t noticed, there is a global recession on at the moment and fashion retail as a sector has been toughing out some serious low points.

The first Uniqlo store opened in Hiroshima in 1984, founded by Tadashi Yanai, CEO of its parent company Fast Retailing. He is now the richest man in Japan – yes really.

Grazia’s Fashion Editor at Large, Melanie Rickey says – “I interviewed them about five years ago, and one of the things that they mentioned was their goal of being the biggest retailer in the world by 2010. Now it looks like they weren’t being particularly far fetched . . . .”

The brand has long employed a strategy of celebrity figureheads to their campaigns, and to give you a clue of the company’s cool-ometer, Primal Scream singer Bobby Gillespie and Nicholas Hoult (BEFORE Tom Ford got his mitts on the lovely young actor) plus actress Chloë Sevigny and Kills singer Alison Mosshart have both been photographed by Terry Richardson for Uniqlo womenswear. Agyness has also posed in their simple block-coloured bits. And the stylist? None other than Lady Gaga’s right hand man and DAZED fashion director, Nichola Formichetti.

Collaborators for the brand over the past few years have included t shirt designs by brills skills (and at the time, quite underground) designers like Gareth Pugh, Carri Mundane and Kim Jones and images by artists Keith Haring and Michel Basquiat.

Most significant, though, must be their ongoing partnership with Jil Sander, the cool leader of the minimalist pack. Unlike most designer collaborations, this is not to be a one-off range but an ongoing consultancy that will see Sander involved across all aspects of the design and manufacture of Uniqlo's products, and has been widely applauded (and envied) by lots of other retailers.

When you bear in mind that men and women, from 15-year-olds wanting to buy a bargain print tee, to career girls hunting a Jil Sander trench for every day, to 65-year-olds looking for un-stuffy cashmere basics, then its easy to imagine how this Japanese chain has pulled it off.

- Naomi Attwood

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