UniQlo Shanghai Flagship Store

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Just another Saturday afternoon outside UniQlo’s Shanghai flagship store

Following Paris, London and New York, Japanese fashion retailer UniQlo opened its 4th and largest global flagship store last month right here in Shanghai, on Nanjing West Road, close to M&S. Since opening its first Shanghai store way back in 2002, UniQlo has joined the ranks of KFC, Starbucks and McDonalds as one of the few foreign retail brands to have made it big in the People’s Republic of China, thanks to some pretty creative marketing. They now have over 60 stores in China.

Despite being open for a few weeks now, the store still had massive queues last Saturday, and although reluctant at first, I joined the masses in the line to get in to see what all the fuss was about.

Inside, I found it was pretty much like all the other UniQlo stores in Shanghai, except bigger at a whopping 3,300 square metres spanning 3 floors. I expected bigger to mean less crowded, but I suppose I should have known better. This is China after all, where building things bigger merely means more people will come. And so I queued with everyone else to get in and then to try on clothes at the changing rooms. At the changing rooms, they limited everyone to 5 items per time to keep the lines moving. The girl in front of me must have had about 25 items in her basket, so she had to make the agonising choice of what to try and what to leave to keep for the next round.

Apart from being bigger than the regular Shanghai stores, the flagship featured an atrium that goes from the ground to the top floor with “flying mannequins” that go up and down like superman, only more stylishly dressed!

I ended up with a couple of tee shirts and a nice polo shirt for around 240 rmb. I did spot a nice white linen shirt for 199 rmb, but all the small sizes had sold out and I didn’t fancy the other colours on offer. I’ll have to see if the branch near my office has any left.

After spending a couple of hours at UniQlo, I wandered over to M&S to pick up a few bits and pieces (fish fingers, sausage rolls, chicken jalfrezi and some tea bags for those who are interested). The store wasn’t exactly dead, but the contrast between M&S and UniQlo was quite noticeable and M&S clearly could learn a thing or two from its new Nanjing Road neighbour.

969 Nanjing Xi Lu (near Mao Ming Lu)
Shanghai

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18 Responses to UniQlo Shanghai Flagship Store

  1. Viv says:

    Woai, I left Shanghai (my hometown, sort of) the day after the big opening. My question: does this branch carry the Jil Sander for Uniqlo collection, +J?

  2. T. says:

    99 RMB jeans will make people line up.

  3. WoAi says:

    @Viv – I didn’t notice but I wasn’t looking. Will check next time and report back.

    @T – Indeed. UniQlo are wiping the floor with Gap in my humble opinion.

  4. WoAi says:

    @Viv – Actually yes they do carry the +J range. It’s featured on their Chinese website with prices (in RMB). There’s a womens trench coat for example, for just 399 RMB.

  5. T. says:

    Is gap actually open in China yet?

    I think gap doesn’t have an equivilant – uniqlo sits between old navy and gap on the brand perception vs. Cost dual axis chart – except they do have cooler designer hook ups.

  6. WoAi says:

    No Gap yet but there are definite overlaps. A few months ago I went to UniQlo in London and got their staple Merino wool v-neck sweater. I think it cost GBP 19.99. Stopped by Gap next door. Their version was GBP 34.95. Why anyone would buy from their is a mystery to me. I did get some GREAT jeans from Gap though and I wear them almost every day when not working. Just happens to be my perfect size : 30 waist, 30 length (short), slim fit. 32 length at a push is okay, 34 is just way too long.

  7. Viv says:

    Thanks for the update! Actually, in the U.S. Uniqlo is seen as a hip, inventive brand with smashing collaborations (like the Jil Sander gig, which has actually turned into a permanent arrangement, I think). Fashion conscious people know that Uniqlo, where available, is the place to get basics — including $99 cashmere!

    The Gap, on the other hand, has stagnated in the last five years. They’ve done some interesting things like a small collaboration with the shoe designer Pierre Hardy, but generally Gap is pretty humdrum, even with the introduction of Patrick Robinson as creative director. I suppose part of the reason is that Uniqlo isn’t available on the West Coast. Can’t wait until Uniqlo and Muji finally make it out to Los Angeles. Until then… Shanghai.

  8. N says:

    Was there on a weekday afternoon so it wasn’t as crazy. I found the selection of goods smaller than that of the store in my suburban neighbourhood in Japan despite it being the largest global flagship store.

  9. WoAi says:

    @N – Yes, I imagine the range was limited here in China, perhaps they only sell stuff that’s manufactured here or something like that.

    @Viv – I think you summed up Gap perfectly, they’ve fallen asleep and let things slip and are going to pay the price. Complacency is a dangerous thing.

  10. T says:

    I know Gap is planning to open a huge store (4 floors – but not quite the same footprint as Uniqlo) on Nanjing East Road sometime in the next 6 months.

    I actually haven’t bought clothes from the Gap for years, work clothes are banana republic, casual basics are american apparel and uniqlo/h&m

  11. anthony says:

    @Woai – any chance of making the podcast go live ?
    that means you guys go live on friday night each week
    and people can call in, people like shopgirl all the way
    from sweden or angie from texas . i wonder if you could take advertising ? lol

  12. D says:

    wow i would like to see podcast go live for one special event. on a weekend or something. but not all the time :p

    can you think of any retail brands that’s not in shanghai yet, and you would love to see it in SH?

  13. Yalan says:

    Impressive to see the long queue outside.

  14. WoAi says:

    @D – That’s a great question. I’d like to see Pret A Manger in Shanghai!

    @Anthony – You realise a podcast can’t be live! But certainly we could feature some calls from listeners. Great idea.

    @T – Do they have Banana Republic here? There was a shop in Beijing years ago.

  15. stimpy says:

    HATE their ads on the subway- I’ve never seen so many gormless looking models.

    And queuing to get into a clothes shop that has been open for two weeks and 4 of the same-type of store within walking distance of each other? Has the world gone mad?!

  16. T says:

    @WoAi – unknown. Hasn’t opened yet. I think the only BRs in Asia are in Japan, Singapore and there was a shop-in-shop in LCX in Hong Kong for a few years.

  17. Rich says:

    Woai – RE the merino jumpers, I’d pay the extra cos for the right size. Uniqlo ones are too small.

  18. WoAi says:

    @Stimpy – You sound like a grumpy old man. But yes, I’ll be visiting the store near my office soon to see if there’s any difference in the range, although they did have more sizes at the flagship which was helpful (I’m a small and they always run out).

    @T – Let’s wait and see then. I do like BR.

    @Rich – For you maybe, bigboy!

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