Uniqlo’s origins date back to 1949 when Ogori Shoji privately founded his clothing company in Yamaguchi. The name Uniqlo derives from the union of Unique Clothing since it initially was a unisex project. In 1984 he made the decision to expand the company and open the first store in Hiroshima, with a wide range of casual clothes. It was immediately successful and in one year there were almost 100 points of sale throughout Japan.

uniqlo-campaign-2019Uniqlo campaign 2019


In 1997 Uniqlo changed its name, becoming SPA (Specialty Store of Private Label Apparel) and establishing itself on the market with the opening of new flagship stores in the most important cities of Japan. In fact, in 1998, a store was opened in Harajuku, in the center of Tokyo, and 500 points of sale were reached in the entire Japanese territory. From that moment the company decided to expand abroad as well. In 2001 4 stores were opened in London and the following year the first Uniqlo store in China, in Shanghai, was inaugurated. In 2002 Uniqlo involved about fifty young designers for the creation of the collections, obtaining wide appreciation from both the domestic and foreign markets.


Uniqlo Jacket

To help strengthen the growth of the brand, in December 2004 Uniqlo set up a support design studio in New York, while keeping young Japanese talents in a prominent position. In September 2005, the first store was opened in Seoul, in South Korea and also in New Jersey, in the United States, In the same year the inauguration of the store inside the prestigious Tsim Sha Tsui shopping center in Hong Kong took place. In 2006 Uniqlo decided to close its stores in America to open a bigger and more important one in Soho, the most trendy district in New York.

In 2009, the brand also arrived in Europe with the opening of a flagship store in Paris, with an area of over 2 thousand square meters behind the Opera, and the intention to open stores also in Italy, Germany and Spain.


Uniqlo mainly produces basic items, mostly in solid colours and of quality at affordable prices. Often it offers special collections, with an innovative design and made with hyper-technological materials. Like the Heat-Tech winter line, garments that are light to the touch but capable of retaining heat in contact with the skin. Or even the famous UV Cut Collection, a line made with materials that protect the skin from the harmful rays of the sun. In 2009 an exceptional collaboration started with the launch of the + J line, designed by the German designer Jil Sander. Thanks to this collection for both men and women, in February 2011 she won the prestigious Brit Insurance Design Fashion Award.


Uniqlo x Jil Sander

Due to the brand’s care for communication on the occasion of the launch of the new Uniqlo stores in Japan, Taiwan and China, there was the longest but most fun queue in the world. An online event that involved millions of people all over the world; ten days before the event, the online queue was opened, and participants simply had to register on the site to receive a discount coupon and their position in the queue. This had a record result: Uniqlo Lucky Line produced, in Japan alone, proceeds of 10 million yen.

Many stars and celebrities appeared in Uniqlo commercials, both Japanese and American. Charlize Theron and Orlando Bloom were chosen as Uniqlo’s Global Ambassadors for the Made For All line, the claim that underlies the Uniqlo philosophy: garments for everyone.


Since 2014, Uniqlo has been collaborating with many internationally renowned brands. The first one was with Helmut Lang, working with the creative director Alexandre Plokhov to launch an active collection. The collection includes 21 unisex pieces, or for men and women, made only in black and gray shades.


Uniqlo x Helmut Lang

In the same period, a few days later, Uniqlo collaborated with Jil Sander. The line consists of 42 garments for women and men, chosen from the last 5 seasons starting from fall-winter 2009. In 2015, Uniqlo honoured its origins with a capsule collection of t-shirts, loungewear and fabric bags made in collaboration with the Shochiku theater company, in homage to Kabuki art. 


Uniqlo x Shochiku

Uniqlo raised its prices in 2014. An endorsement of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s efforts to stimulate a sluggish economy: with high confidence, even suppliers of affordable sweaters had become more expensive. But as Abe’s expansionary policies struggled to rekindle growth, the brand reversed those increases, lowering prices in 2015 and increasing discounts again in the first two months of 2016. The sales of the brand in Japanese outlets rose 18% in 2016 compared to the previous year, the largest increase since April 2015.

In 2017 the owner of Uniqlo, Fast Retailing Co. promised to increase the speed, both in supplying its stores with the latest fashion and in obtaining tailor-made products for buyers, which allowed it to surpass the powerful Zara. 

Uniqlo hired Rebekka Bay as the creative director of its research and design centre in New York, starting from the 1st of May 2017. Bay was previously Everlane’s product and design manager, a role she left in February. Previously, she was the creative director at Gap, Bruuns Bazaar and Cos.

In 2017, Uniqlo also established another collaboration with the Irish designer Jonathan Andreson of J.W. Anderson. The line, called The life wear collection, combines the aesthetics of the British brand with the design and materials research of the Japanese label.


Uniqlo J.W. Anderson

Uniqlo launched a new capsule collection with Alexander Wang in 2018. Ten years after the first partnership, the American designer collaborated with the Japanese fast fashion brand again, this time on an underwear collection. The line blends the aesthetics of the American brand with the innovative Heattech fabric, which includes underwear for men and women, bras, T-shirts and leggings available in a range of neutral colors and in neon green, Wang’s favorite shade.


The Japanese entrepreneur Tadashi Yanai, owner of Uniqlo, announced his retirement in 2018 after the disclosure of fiscal second quarter results, leaving the company in 2019.


Uniqlo fall/winter 2021

In 2020, Uniqlo reopened more than 100 stores in China, while 125 remained closed due to the coronavirus epidemic. The company manages 750 stores in China, its key growth market, while the growth of the Japanese market is slow at the moment. China has also been the Fast Retailing’s crucial manufacturing base, with 128 of its 242 global sewing factories located there.

In 2021, the brand collaborated with Jil Sander again for Uniqlo x J+. The collection was released on the 11th of November 2021, including winter classics reconceived with modern design elements: loose clothes, thick fabrics and unique shapes.