UNIQLO and Disney officials, from left, John C. Jay, president, global creative, Fast Retailing Co. Ltd.; Tadashi Yanai, founder, chair, president and CEO, Fast Retailing Co. Ltd.; Josh Silverman, EVP, global licensing, Disney Consumer Products and Allen Au-Yeung, VP, product creative, The Walt Disney Company, Greater China
What started out as a capsule collection between Uniqlo and Disney Consumer Products in 2009, featuring a handful of Mickey Mouse T-shirts, is now a full-blown Uniqlo LifeWear collection consisting of flannel shirts, down jackets, parkas, plush toys and a wider range of tees dubbed as Magic for All.
Apart from featuring old and new Disney characters, including Anna, Elsa and Olaf of “Frozen,” the deal between Walt Disney Company and Fast Retailing Co. Ltd., the Tokyo-based giant behind Uniqlo and other global retail brands, extends to images and inspirations culled from movies and characters from Marvel, “Star Wars” and Pixar.
The Magic for All collection was formally launched recently and is now on full display at Uniqlo’s flagship store in Shanghai. With a floor area of 6,600 square meters, the five-level store is Uniqlo’s biggest in the world. Magic for All occupies 1,140 sq m of floor space on the fifth level.
Officials from both companies including Tadashi Yanai, chair, president and CEO of Fast Retailing, and Josh Silverman, executive vice president-global licensing of Disney Consumer Products, graced the opening.
“Disney is number one and loved by all,” said Yanai on the reason behind the partnership. “There are many things you can explore. Thanks to Josh, it has become a full-fledged partnership.”
Silverman said both companies “share big values.” Apart from its huge market, what makes Shanghai an ideal site for the launch is the opening of the newest Disneyland theme park just outside the city.
“We both deal in innovations,” he said. “Magic for All is one exciting partnership for us.”
Divided into five areas, Uniqlo’s Magic for All store reserved its biggest and most prominent space for Mickey Mouse.
A statue of Disney’s most iconic character greets shoppers as they get off the escalator. Behind it are 100 Mickey Mouse figurines displayed in glass cases.
Dubbed as Mickey 100, each figurine has been spruced up and reinterpreted by an artist. Uniqlo designers then went to work rendering 15 of these artworks into T-shirts.
The area also features down jackets, flannel shirts and joggers for men and women, who can be as bold or as subtle as they want, as some checkered flannels are plain, while others are dotted with Mickey’s unmistakable silhouette.
Ultra-light down jackets, a Uniqlo invention, are lined either with the smiling faces of Mickey Mouse or his partner Minnie Mouse.
“Disney and Uniqlo can do whatever they want with Mickey except make him look bad,” said Allen Au-Yeung, vice president-product creative of the Walt Disney Company-Greater China. “These Disney items can’t be found in our theme parks. They’re all exclusive to Uniqlo.”
A smaller area devoted to “Star War” sconsists of tops for men and women, hoodies and pullovers mostly in dark colors, emblazoned with the gold “Stars Wars” logo or printed with images of spaceships and hovercrafts culled from the movie franchise.
The area is bound to be flooded with more items as the latest “Star Wars” installment hits theaters this December.
One of the area’s focal points is Shout Mickey, a monitor-slash-camera that’s activated based on how loud you shout Mickey’s name in front of it.
It then measures your energy level by giving you a score. As a bonus, it captures a downloadable image of you while shouting.
Adjacent to it is Little Adventure, which features bright, colorful down jackets, fleece sweaters and mini versions of the 15 Mickey 100 tees for kids.
A Disney-theme store won’t be complete without an area devoted to fairy tales and princesses. Magic for All allotted exclusive niches at the back of the store to female characters like Minnie Mouse, Alice in Wonderland and, surprise, surprise, Anna and Elsa of “Frozen.”
Each circular niche tells a story of both featured characters and Uniqlo’s current range of merchandise, which, in this particular area, is designed to appeal to both girls and young women. The featured princesses and heroines are likely to change based on consumer demand.
Magic for All’s tribute to its most famous character continues with a wall of Mickey Mouse plush toys done in all sorts of fabrics, from plaid to Scandinavian-inspired prints.
And since fashion is all about self-expression, an area in the middle of the store features UTme! and My Uniqlo Service. Shoppers can have their white Uniqlo tees, flannel shirts and hooded fleece jackets customized by having them either digitally printed or adorned with Disney patches.
The service was introduced in Japan and then offered in France and the United States. Judging from the number of people flocking to the area, Shanghai natives love the idea.
Uniqlo and Disney officials were mum on future plans to open more Magic for All stores in other cities. But shoppers in the Philippines can now buy Magic for All stuff at any of Uniqlo’s 24 branches.
Bigger Uniqlo branches at SM Megamall, SM Mall of Asia, SM North Edsa and SM Aura offer a wider selection of Magic for All products.
“Disney doesn’t exist only for kids,” said Yanai, who founded Uniqlo in 1984. “Each of us has his or her own interpretation of Mickey. Just look at Mickey 100. What’s your Mickey? At the same time, Magic for All goes beyond Mickey to include other images and characters.”
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