UNIQLO: Japan's Fashion and Apparel Design Competes for #1

by Marianne Salina
Fashion School Review Columnist

November 10, 2006

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If you ask CEO Tadashi Yanai of Japan's famous casual clothing line UNIQLO what his long-term goal in the fashion design industry is, he will calmly say, "To be bigger than Gap." This may sound audacious for a retailer that has only recently opened its first store in the United States, but UNIQLO's bold fashion design and merchandising approach certainly makes it a strong contender in today's market.

Budget-Proof Quality Replaces Expensive Fashion Design
Yanai was quick to imitate the economic approach of some of the biggest fashion design names. Retailers like the Gap, Old Navy, and H&M are huge producers in the American market, providing customers trendy, affordable clothing. UNIQCLO follows suit with prices as low as $5.99 for a t-shirt with undeniably high quality, but is cheap and ultra-casual what Americans want?

Can Japan's Fashion Design and Merchandising Pass the Test?
UNIQLO may have high hopes for the U.S., but the prospects for successful sales are dubious at best. After all, in 2001, they launched twenty-one stores in the United Kingdom with similarly lofty ambitions, and ultimately lost. Since the U.S. is a far more competitive fashion market than the UK, UNIQLO's fate is uncertain.

Solve Market Quandaries in Fashion Design School
As a fashion designer, it is important to realize that there isn't just one type of consumer in the United States; there are actually many unique target markets. Finding your niche and developing your fashion designs for a specific clientele is sometimes a better sales strategy than relying upon bottom-dollar price tags.

While the financial details may seem daunting, fear not! In fashion design school, you are offered the opportunity to learn the fundamental business and merchandising skills that you will need to remain strong in a fickle fashion world.

About the Author
Marianne Salina is a freelance writer in Spokane, Washington. She writes about pursuits in education and degree opportunities.

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