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Uniqlo Doesn't Think Fashion and Technology Are Mutually Exclusive

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A couple of month's ago, Uniqlo was caught in a bit of a branding identity crisis. Is the Japanese retail company, whose focus on performance and fabric innovation has driven exponential growth in American markets, more of a tech company or a fashion company? As Uniqlo Chairman Shin Odake told the Wall Street Journal last April, "We are not the new Gap [...] We are not style-driven. Our competitor is Apple. We don't see ourselves as having competitors in the fashion-retailing space." On the other hand, collaborations with Orla Kiely, Lulu Guiness, Undercover's Jun Takahashi, and design big guns Jil Sander suggest otherwise.

Now CEO of Uniqlo's parent company, Fast Retailing, Tadashi Yanai, would like you to consider how they're merging the two opposite poles in the consumer sphere, telling Wired, "Whether it's tech or fashion, it must be for the customer."

Just one example of joining the two disparate branding niches is the new San Francisco store's so-called "magic mirror," with which customers can "try out" any color of the same product without have to go through the motions of taking off and putting on Uniqlo's massive color options.

So try subbing out the word "trend" in reference to the company's branding and sub in the word "tech" for a new take on fashion, or as Yanai puts it: "In general, the apparel industry isn't about continual process improvement or making the perfect piece of denim, it's about chasing trends. At Uniqlo we're thinking ahead. We're thinking about how to create new, innovative products [...] and sell that to everyone."
· Uniqlo's CEO on His Long, 'Crazy' Fight for the Future of Retail [Wired]
· Is Uniqlo Having a Fashion Identity Crisis? [Racked]
· Guess Who's Starring in the Uniqlo Ad Campaign with the Man Repeller (You Won't) [Racked]