Uniqlo set to open Fifth Ave. flagship

New York City -- Uniqlo, the expansion-minded Japanese apparel retailer, on Friday will open its largest store in the world, an 89,000-sq.-ft. flagship on Fifth Avenue. The three-level store reflects the chain’s ambitious designs on the United States and also the changing nature of Fifth Avenue, which is experiencing an influx of moderately-priced retailers.

Uniqlo is looking to grow its business to $50 billion by 2020. U.S. expansion figures into its strategy.

“We see great potential in the United States,” said Shin Odake, CEO, Uniqlo USA. “By 2020, we hope to open stores in major cities across the country.

Designed by the cutting-edge Japanese firm Wonderwall, the new Uniqlo is sleek and futuristic. It is massive in scale, with 100 fitting rooms, 45 checkouts, 100 LCD and LED screens, four glass elevators and an escalator that takes customers from the entry directly to the third level, which is the main selling floor.

“It’s a futuristic design that shows the future of Uniqlo,” said Shin Odake, CEO, Uniqlo USA. “We think it will become an iconic location for Fifth Ave,”

The store’s modern aesthetic and high-tech feel are on par with the merchandise on display. Uniqlo is known worldwide for its basic, classic stylings, but the retailer has been dialing up its product innovation to give it a competitive edge. 

“Our approach to product is a little different from other competitors,” Odake said. “Everyone is focusing on trend. But our focus is on how to bring innovation to core basics. Another focus is product quality. We partner with the best fabric mills/

That emphasis is brought home in the flagship, which features the new Uniqlo Innovation Project (IPJ) collection of high-performance, active everyday-sportswear. Among the offerings: zippered jackets that can be torn open and anti-microbial T-shirts made of UV-blocking fabric. And the company’s popular moisture-trapping and heat-generating Heattech line is spotlighted in a tunnel-like department set off with mirrored ceilings, a stainless steel floor and an LED reader board.

Uniqlo will follow up its Fifth Avenue debut with a store in Manhattan’s Herald Square area (34th St.), opening on Oct. 21. At 64,000 sq. ft., it will be the brand’s second largest location. The two stores will join Uniqlo’s much-smaller SoHo outpost, which opened at the end of 2006.

Click here to see more photos of Uniqlo’s Fifth Avenue flagship.

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