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Casual Fashion Retailer Collaborates with Top Designers (November 7, 2006)

An example of the Designers Invitation Project (PANA)
The streets of Tokyo's trendy Harajuku and Daikanyama districts are awash in black, white, and shades of gray this season as young people affect an avant-garde style by combining monotones. Coinciding with this trend, casual apparel retailer Uniqlo has launched a line of clothing in collaboration with Japanese and foreign designers who show at the Paris and Tokyo collections. Known as the Designers Invitation Project, the line is being offered this fall for a limited time only at Uniqlo's online and bricks-and-mortar stores both within and outside of Japan.

Chic But Affordable
One of the designers currently collaborating with Uniqlo is Nicolas Andreas Taralis, whose clothes feature modern, sporty designs. The items being sold by Uniqlo are priced attractively at around one-tenth the price of typical designer items, with an open-shoulder parka and a balloon skirt both priced at around ¥1,900 ($15.83 at ¥120 to the US dollar).

An outfit from Uniqlo's fall/winter collection (PANA)

The items are of surprisingly high quality for the price, and they are selling briskly even at Uniqlo's location in the upscale Ginza district, where fashion-conscious women who have never before been part of Uniqlo's customer segment can be spotted picking out Uniqlo items with enthusiasm. Meanwhile, women who have always favored casual, basic designs are discovering the appeal of this designer apparel, which transcends their previous notions of designer fashion. Uniqlo's new line appears to have found a niche that was crying out to be filled.

Catering to Sophisticated Tastes
Until now, the Uniqlo name has stood for casual, low-priced clothing in a wide range of sizes and colors. If designer and luxury labels represented one end of the fashion spectrum, Uniqlo's basic styles were at the other end. As consumers have matured, however, they have become more discerning and are no longer content with items that are functional and low-priced. Shoppers these days pursue a balance of trendiness, quality, and affordability.

By introducing some designer creativity into its lineup, Uniqlo has boosted its fashion appeal and brand image, attracting a new demographic. Uniqlo is not alone in adopting this strategy, and the trend of providing high-quality fashion at affordable prices appears likely to keep gaining ground.

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Copyright (c) 2006 Web Japan. Edited by Japan Echo Inc. based on domestic Japanese news sources. Articles presented here are offered for reference purposes and do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Japanese Government.

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