July 24 2010
There’s something that bores me about Uniqlo – its obsessively uniform expanses of almost identical, candy-coloured clothes are so unexciting. But in Harajuku in Tokyo, I found a Uniqlo outpost that impressed even me – the UT store. This three-storey outlet is dedicated to T-shirts, dozens of different designs in limited editions, most for Y1,500 (around £11).
Though I’ve scooped up at least four or five designs on each visit since, it isn’t just the shirts that are so appealing; rather, it’s their packaging. A few samples are ranged around to try on for size or inspect the finish; once you’ve picked a favourite, there’s a tag around the neck that indicates where the stock can be found on surrounding shelves. Each T-shirt is stored and sold, vending machine-style, in tubes – making the brightly-coloured, throwaway fashion as moreish as Smarties (in fact, I’ve kept the tubes and use them to store sweets and gum).
It’s been nine months since I was last in Tokyo and I’m jonesing for another jaunt – or I was until I walked into my local Uniqlo in Manhattan. Now, the Soho flagship is festooned with UT-branded T-shirts, newly launched stateside. The place is festooned with the signature tubes, but the only drawback is that in Manhattan, while I can take home as many shirts as I want, the tubes stay dangling from the ceiling – they’re strictly for decoration.