I have just discovered the Holy Grail of men’s shopping. And it’s called Uniqlo. That’s right, Uniqlo – the Japanese place with a name like washing powder or some complicated new word-puzzle game.
It first opened in Britain eight years ago without much success, but after a revamp and some tweaks to its styling (more European-friendly sizing; closer attention to the needs of the more fashion-aware UK market), its UK sales have risen from £19.3 million in 2007 to £37.3 million in 2008.
Walk into one of its stores and the first thing that will probably strike you is the neatness of the layout. If all you want to do is go looking for a pair of cords, find a pair of cords, buy a pair of cords and get out sharpish, Uniqlo is a dream come true.
What will impress you next is the colour range. Take the cashmere V-neck sweaters – superb value at just £70 a pop. Whereas in M&S or Gap you can choose between perhaps five or fewer colours at Uniqlo you get 25.
These range from safe colours – beige, sage – for your more middle-aged moments to ‘brave’ ones – shocking pinks, bright yellows, electric purples – for when you’re feeling more adventurous. It’s one reason why it appeals to such a very broad age range – from teenagers to staid men in late middle age. It seems to have all the bases covered without compromising on style.
Similar rules apply to all the other clothing lines: jeans, corduroys, chinos, cardigans, merino wool sweaters, T-shirts, socks, pants… This idea works particularly well with T-shirts: there are so many in the range, you can buy one and nobody will know where you got it; unlike one from, say, Gap.
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