Kicking off its expansion into U.S. malls on Friday, Uniqlo, Japan's largest retailer, brought its Apple-esque take on fashion to Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, N.J., where it opened a 43,000-square-foot store.
The retailer until now has operated just three freestanding U.S. stores in New York City, but has set its sights on opening "20 to 30 stores annually, and reach[ing] $10 billion in sales in the U.S by 2020," Shin Odake, CEO of Uniqlo USA, said during a press event on Tuesday at the new store.
A division of Japanese holding firm Fast Retailing Co., the chain operates more than 1,100 stores in 12 countries, including Japan, China, France and the United Kingdom. The new one is the chain's largest mall-based store.
Uniqlo's goal is nothing less than changing how America dresses, using sleek stores showcasing affordable clothing that pair a minimalist design with performance features like Heattech, its exclusive heat-retaining and moisture-resistant technology.
"We want to make a perfect T-shirt, sweater and jeans that can be worn by everyone," Odake told DailyFinance last year.
Second Time's the Charm?
The two-level Paramus store will be the company's fourth U.S. retail location, with their fifth U.S. store scheduled to open on Oct. 5 in San Francisco.
It marks the chain's second attempt at mall expansion. Uniqlo's first bid to conquer the U.S. market flopped: It opened three mall stores in 2005, only to close them by the end of the year.
The reason: The company had failed to build awareness of the brand beforehand.
This go-round, by contrast, Uniqlo began last year by opening two huge stores in New York City, the fashion capital of the world, buoyed by an ample marketing blitz to generate the requisite buzz.
Friday signaled "a very special day for Uniqlo as we open our doors to New Jersey" Odake said, in a press release. "We want ... to improve the world through our clothing."