The largest UNIQLO in the world, right in Tokyo's Ginza retail heartland, sprawls over eight floors of rails, mirrors and changing rooms. This store only opened in 2012 but is already a staple stop for fashion buyers.
UNIQLO prides itself on simple designs in block colours, with an excellent range of staple items you can piece together an outfit from. Moderately priced, comfortable, stylish clothes which are great to wear as well as looking good, on and off. There is something immensely satisfying about the rainbow spread of one item in all the available colours. Simple presentation is enticing.
Working under the tagline 'Lifewear', UNIQLO offers a unique brand of comfortable clothing that can be smart without being over formal, or relaxed and casual. With shops in over seventeen countries, including Australia, America and the UK, UNIQLO really has become a global brand. It all starts here though, in this tall, slim, shining store.
There are good sized baskets to load clothes into. Lifts and escalators are both in operation to make the store accessible. Each floor is simply laid out and easy to navigate, with a good number of changing rooms available.
The changing rooms are big enough to be comfortable and well lit. Fastidious hygiene is of course paramount. An obvious manifestation is remembering to take your shoes off. Something much more odd, but sensible, is the bit of material you're given on entry to the changing rooms. With a gesture over the head, it initially looks like it might be to protect clothes from greasy hair. In fact, you mask yourself with it while putting clothes on, to protect them from your makeup.
Floorspace is very limited in Japan, so this store goes up, up and away, with different ranges on each floor. Luckily they are aware that not all visitors will speak or read Japanese, so signs are bilingual Japanese - English, and you are likely to find store staff able to help as many speak English, or are not themselves Japanese (perhaps not the first person you speak to though).
The ground floor is very much a showcase, with stunning marketing displays to draw you in. Menswear, womenswear, childrenswear - there is something for everyone here. Since no single floor is huge, the store manages to be large without feeling overwhelming, a true retail experience. It holds the largest range of UNIQLO clothes available, so this is the place to come for browsing and purchasing alike.
The shop is within a few minutes' walk of various metro stations, including most obviously Ginza itself. Opening hours are 11am-9pm daily, allowing for late-night shoppers as well as the usual daily traffic.