After visiting a Seoul and the Taipei Uniqlo, I’ve realized just how great the Soho Uniqlo is. My friend mentioned that the business model for Asia is probably different than the US flagship store, where they opt to open more small stores to maximize market penetration. True, when I consider the stores I’ve been to in HK, but not the one in Japan – my neighborhood Uniqlo was the one in Ginza. I’m going to highlight my experiences in Seoul and Taipei, and give my two cents on the Designer Invitations Project collabs and the Spring +j line.
- Seoul Gang-nam COEX Mall: I was disappointed at the selections at the small store we went to in the Seoul COEX mall. They highlight the more vanilla selections that Uniqlo has to offer (which do not pique my interest whatsoever). Upon closer inspection, I found the already launched Costello Tagliapietra and Vena Cava dress collections. The Charlotte Ronson one had just launched. There were slim pickings for the Costello collection and the dresses ran HUGE. Typically the Uniqlo Asia sizes run one size smaller than the US/UK. I think most of the Koreans were probably sized out – a sharp contrast from my other shopping experiences in Seoul…
- Taipei Hankyu department store (統一阪急百貨): Taiwan’s only Uniqlo opened with much fanfare in October 2010. According to my aunt, the line to the basement level store ran outside and around the corner; sales for opening day broke Uniqlo’s opening day records. This is no surprise to me – I always hear a ton of Taiwanese accents when I’m at the Soho Uniqlo. The selection was also disappointing – no designer collabs at all! There was plenty on their Taiwan online store though. I went back a few days later and was happy to see that they’d stocked up on their Cath Kidston, Cacharel, and Vena Cava collabs. The store is very crowded on weekends and much more manageable, even on a Friday night.
- As cute as Cath Kidston’s bags are, I don’t want to wear the prints. This collab will also be in the US.
- Cacharel had a few nice prints. I have always admired their designs. The t-shirts run very big.
- Vena Cava is a huge disappointment. Their designs, in general, have gotten pretty “meh” over the years.
+j Spring/Summer 2011 collection:
It was interesting to note that +j wasn’t at any of the stores I visited. I know it’s definitely in Shanghai and probably Japan per their ecommerce sites. When you’re visiting the other countries’ Uniqlo sites, stick to only window shopping – they have different stock/earlier launch dates and sometimes more product images. In addition, the China e-store has nifty numbers, e.g. how many units have sold within the past 30 days and how many units are left in the warehouse, and measurements, on the product pages. Also worth noting that the full Charlotte Ronson and Costello Tagliapietra collections were on sale online in China well before it was announced in the U.S. blogosphere, so the first look posts weren’t as exciting.
I can’t remember the last time I visited the Soho store and was itching to since the Costello collab launched while I was gone. There was tons of Costello, Charlotte Ronson, and +j (the second half launched in March) with the dress collabs priced at a friendly $29.90. I think the Asia and US/UK Costello dresses have the same sizing, as in they ran HUGE. XS is scarce. The mint green dress would look cute belted, but the material is too flimsy. The tie-front dress was cute, but I didn’t love the colors. Also, a lot of the black dresses look like they may fade after a few runs in the washing machine. I think I’m going to end up keeping the black Costello cowlneck dress. There was also tons of +j on sale in the basement. The current +j line had some eye-catching styles and colors, but my money is staying in my wallet. If you need to shop, it is a good time to stop by Uniqlo.