Given its worldwide ubiquity, it was quite a surprise to learn that Japanese clothing brand Uniqlo (pronounced “unique-low,” a clever contraction of the phrase “unique clothing,” as opposed to the more popular “YOU-knee-clow”) just opened its first flagship store in Southeast Asia. Just because a Uniqlo boutique houses the complete product lineup and is located in a prime spot does not make it instantly a flagship. For the meticulous brand, there’s more to a flagship store than inventory and location—there must be a meaningful story, too.
The Southeast Asian flagship store is located in Singapore’s Orchard Central, right in the midpoint of the country’s popular shopping district. Orchard Central is Singapore’s first and tallest vertical mall.
Tadashi Yanai, Fast Retailing’s (Uniqlo’s parent company) chair, president and CEO, said he hoped the flagship would serve as another bridge for both their Southeast Asian patrons as well as those traveling from all over the globe.
The 2,700-sqm space features three floors of apparel heaven for men, women and kids. Unlike flagship stores in Japan where their inventory is mandated by the current season, the Singapore boutique will carry clothes that span different seasons for a more global audience.
Even though it was a sweltering 34°C at the time of the boutique’s opening, one of the prime highlights of Uniqlo was the introduction of its buttery-soft cashmere line. Floor-to-ceiling shelves were stacked with cashmere sweaters arranged beautifully according to color. Despite the heat in Singapore, the sweaters are predicted to be best sellers, not just for those travelling to cooler climes, but for those who work in offices with air conditioning set to Arctic temperatures.
Another reason why Uniqlo’s cashmere lineup is set to fly off the racks is the price. According to Yanai, Uniqlo has always been committed to delivering high-quality garments at reasonable prices. Indeed, the smart, luxurious cashmere coats were priced at a little over SG$200 or approximately P6,600—not bad at all for honest-to-goodness cashmere.
Uniqlo’s proprietary innovative fabrics are also given prime space in the store. Heattech, its ultra-lightweight, ultra-thin line of magical winter warmers; Airism, the breathable fabric that cools your body as it wicks moisture and resists bad odor; and the brand’s signature light down vests and jackets—designed for cold weather outerwear that can be stored as compactly as a regular toilet paper roll.
No Uniqlo flagship is complete without UT, the brand’s graphic tees with prints and illustrations done by various artists and brands around the globe.
As with all boutiques, the brand’s wide array of garments are styled on rotating mannequins to give shoppers an idea on how to create outfits from the selection. Even the way the clothes are stocked reflect a little shopping psychology. The women’s clothes are arranged according to complementary pieces, allowing a woman to browse leisurely. The men’s section meanwhile shows everything available at a glance to suit the typical manly grab and go approach to shopping.
On the topmost floor, globalization meets local flavor through a “neighborhood” art installation featuring beautifully designed Singapore spots interspersed with Uniqlo ensembles. This is where the brand’s LifeWear philosophy comes alive, where the clothes play an integral yet unobtrusive part of one’s lifestyle. Indeed, one of the most appealing things about wearing Uniqlo (apart from the comfort) is how the clothes assume your personality: distinct and tailored enough to make you look sharp and polished, but never homogeneous that you end up looking like emoji twinsies when you bump into someone wearing the same thing.
If you happen to have a trip planned to Singapore, make sure to drop by Orchard Central to check out the first SEA flagship. With the exception of the cashmere line, a lot of the new apparel available at the flagship store is also available here, like our new favorite travel essential: the two-way stole, an ingenious huge scarf with a groove in the center that sits flush against your nape so you can wear it as a cape (the rhyming part is optional). You can also wear it as a regular scarf and it comes in three different kinds of textures: a multicolored fringe, a semi-chunky knit with button, and a basic rectangle. All are warm and roomy and you’ll enjoy having this with you on the plane, in the cinema, or in your frigid office cubicle.
Download the Uniqlo app to be the first to know about daily deals and get app exclusive discounts and promos. Visit www.uniqlo.com for a list of branches in the Philippines.