It creates everyday clothes, simple, somewhat predictable, of good quality, but keeping the price relatively low. We are talking about the Japanese brand Uniqlo, which has imperceptibly taken the seat of the fashion industry leader.
When hearing the phrase “the most valuable clothing brand in the world”, many people think of iconic fashion houses such as Hermes, Gucci or Louis Vuitton, or large chain stores such as H&M or Zara.
However, it turns out that the leader is… Uniqlo, owned by the Fast Retailing company. This brand, founded in Japan, owes its name to the conglomeration of English words for unique clothes. Legend has it that it was actually supposed to be called Uniclo, but an employee made a mistake while registering the company.
What is even stranger is that there is a large number of people who have never heard of this brand. We checked out the path Uniqlo went through before making it to the top.
The founder of Uniqlo is Tadashi Yanai, a billionaire and Japan’s richest businessman. He inherited Ogori Shoji’s 22 tailor stores in 1972, and 12 years later he became president of Ogori Shoji and opened the first casual clothing store for men and women called Unique Clothing Warehouse in Hiroshima. This was shortened in 1988.
Tadashi Yanai had a clear vision for his business from the beginning. He wrote down his entire philosophy in a document called “23 Principles of Management” with which every new employee is familiarized. The most important thing for a new employee to remember is that the customer always comes first, and the second is to act for the benefit of society. Uniqlo has provided clothing to refugees, disaster victims and single mothers, as well as helping female workers in Asian garment factories.
The company has its stores, among others, on the main shopping streets of London, New York and Paris. Unfortunately, we have not yet seen even one stationary point in Poland, although we can hope, because Tadashi Yanai clearly communicates its goal, which is to be the world’s largest seller of everyday clothing.
The founder was inspired by Western brands he met during his travels, such as GAP and Benetton, but without blindly chasing trends. He focused on quality, simplicity and minimalism, but at an affordable price.
Created clothes were and still are to be for everyone, regardless of gender, age, origin or size. Production takes place in China, Indonesia, Turkey and Bangladesh, and many processes and solutions are patented.
Uniqlo offers a wide range of pants, skirts, tops, polos, T-shirts (plain, no prints or inscriptions), but also nightwear, accessories and outerwear. Many of them are available in dozens of colors. When it comes to materials, there is no lack of natural ones, such as cotton, wool, linen, and even cashmere.
Over the years, the brand has collaborated with big brands such as Disney or Marvel, local artists and niche companies such as Marimekko.
Against the odds, the 2020 pandemic period brought huge profits to the Japanese brand. All thanks to the creation of clothing lines perfectly suited to the new reality. Uniqlo has introduced, among other things, tracksuits (sporty and more elegant) and masks that cover the mouth and nose.
Main photo: Hannah Morgan/unsplash.com