By Devon Johnson
Popular Japanese fashion retailer Uniqlo has opened its second Canadian location at Toronto's Yorkdale Shopping Centre. The 25,500 square foot store opened to the public on Thursday, October 20, 2016. This marks Uniqlo's second store in the Canadian market, with the first having opened at CF Toronto Eaton Centre last month.
The store is located in Yorkdale's new 300,000 square foot, $331 million Nordstrom-anchored east wing expansion, which also includes new retail spaces from retailers such as Samsung, Canada Goose, Saje, Williams-Sonoma, Strellson, Lululemon, and Nadege. Fellow Japanese retailer Muji is also found in the new wing, located right next door to Uniqlo.
The company was founded in Japan in 1974, and operates over 800 stores globally. Uniqlo's simple, affordable, and high quality fashions have proven to be a hit at its first Canadian location. With Yorkdale being a mall with a very different demographic, Uniqlo didn't skimp out on the grand opening festivities.
A massive crowd of Uniqlo fans came to the grand opening - many who had been waiting in line since the early hours of the morning. The first two customers in line were Max and Hannah, who both arrived at 4:30 am. Uniqlo kept their eager customers happy by providing hot drinks, pastries, and bottled water to those waiting in line.
To kick off the opening of the Yorkdale store, all of those in line were entered in a draw to win a trip to Japan for two. This special prize was given away to Kanako Tschimoto.
The store itself is similar to most Uniqlo stores around the world - featuring men's, women's and kid's fashion items. The facade of most Uniqlo locations are marked by glossy white walls, colourful LED lights, and displays of white mannequins.
Compared to the CF Toronto Eaton Centre location, the Yorkdale store's finishes and feel are very similar. However, the store is 2,000 square feet smaller, which means a 'Uniqlo Meets Toronto' section is not found at this location.
The store's first floor contains men's and women's fashions, and selection of sportswear and jackets. The store's second floor contains more men's and women's fashions, children's fashion, and undergarments and accessories.
As mentioned in our last article, Uniqlo philosophy is to not separate men's and women's collections by floor. The company's COO says Uniqlo is truly a brand for "all ages and genders" and it is important that presence should be felt on the first floor of the store.
This Uniqlo also features pieces from 'Uniqlo U', a special collection from Uniqlo's global artistic director Christophe Lemaire. This collection was North American exclusive during Uniqlo's CF Toronto Eaton Centre launch, and has since been launched worldwide.
Multiple cash registers are found on both floors. This weekend only, customers will be seeing major savings. Just to name a few deals, cashmere sweaters are on sale for $89, and vintage chino pants are on for $39. Customers that spend a minimum of $75 will also receive a special, limited edition tote bag with their purchase while quantities last.
Despite massive lineups and positive word-of-mouth, the company's internal marketing studies have shown Uniqlo's brand recognition in Canada to be low. Uniqlo confirms that further Canadian expansion will be carefully considered.
(Editor's note, Jeff Berkowitz of Aurora Realty Consultants represents Uniqlo as Canadian broker, and negotiated both Toronto store deals with their respective landlords).