Crowds gather for the opening of the first Unique Clothing Warehouse, now known as Uniqlo, on June 2, 1984, in Hiroshima, Japan. A lot has changed since then for the Japanese retailer, whose roots go back to 1949. Photo: Uniqlo

The Uniqlo story: from a single store to a global fashion empire, with ambitions to be world’s No 1 brand

  • Uniqlo’s roots go back to a men’s clothing store in a far-flung Japanese city in 1949; influenced by US retail trends, it began expanding in Japan in the 1980s
  • It took another cue, from US retailer The Gap, and a fortuitous name change to trigger global expansion. Now everyone, everywhere is a potential customer
Topic |   Stories behind top Asian brands

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Crowds gather for the opening of the first Unique Clothing Warehouse, now known as Uniqlo, on June 2, 1984, in Hiroshima, Japan. A lot has changed since then for the Japanese retailer, whose roots go back to 1949. Photo: Uniqlo
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Julian Ryall

Julian Ryall

Julian Ryall never expected to still be in Japan 24 years after he first arrived, but he quickly realised its advantages over his native London. He lives in Yokohama with his wife and children and writes for publications around the world.