Japanese clothing retailer Uniqlo has, in a relatively short time, become a staple in the American market. Its frugal, yet durable basics are a hit with stateside shoppers interested in dressing subtly and smartly, and collaborations with high-profile names like Jil Sander and Christophe Lemaire have demonstrated how diverse the brand can be. A good percentage of wardrobes from the east to the west are stocked with Uniqlo clothing, and, needless to say, the company has kept up by opening stores across the country at an alarming rate.


They might be moving a little too quickly, however. Since the first Uniqlo flagship store opened in SoHo in 2006, five more stores have popped up in and around New York City. The locations at 34th Street and 53rd Street are bustling with tourists and locals, and the New Jersey and Brooklyn stores get quite crowded on weekends. Uniqlo’s location on Staten Island, however, recently closed only three years after its opening.


The decision to close the branch is telling about so-called “fast fashion” brands and their unnecessarily great presence in large cities across the country. Though the five boroughs of New York City have a population of more than 8 million, six large stores simply offer too much overlap. Manhattan-based customers have more than enough easily accessible Uniqlo stores, and shoppers living in the other boroughs can reach those locations quite easily via public transit. The Staten Island store simply did not serve a broad enough group.




Uniqlo is hardly the only retailer nearing its carrying capacity in the city. At the time of writing, international fast fashion giant H&M has more than ten stores open in Manhattan alone. Its most newest branch was opened at Herald Square in 2015, and not only is it the largest H&M location in the world, boasting 63,000 square feet of shopping space. but it also sits only blocks away from the store at Penn Station.


While H&M and Uniqlo capture very little extra business by opening multiple megastores, the extra space does enhance their brand images. Massive red logos are now plastered on impressively large buildings all around New York, and these fast fashion brands have become constant fixtures in the city. Just the absurdity of how much space they occupy gets people talking, and that might be their main goal: maintaining their relevance any way they can, even if that means building seemingly unnecessary storefronts in key locations.


How often do you visit Uniqlo or H&M? Let me know here or on Twitter @BillChangNY