Thursday, July 22, 2010

What Makes Uniqlo Unique

Japan's Fast Retailing, parent of the Uniqlo clothing retail chain, has more than 940 stores worldwide and is expanding at the rate of 500 new stores per year.

Uniqlo differentiates itself from retail competitors such as Zara and H&M. "We don't want to chase after 'fast-fashion' trends,' Fast Retailing's founder, Tadashi Yanai, told the Economist recently.

Instead, Uniqlo sells fewer items for long periods--but in a vast selection of colors, as many as 50 per item, for example (see photo).

Uniqlo is unique in another respect: It recently began working with Grameen Bank to bring up to 2,000 clothing manufacturing jobs to Bangladesh. To date, this seems to be the most ambitious attempt by a Japanese firm to launch a social business. Adding a social component to the fashion and selection component is an excellent way to improve the value proposition, IMHO.

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