Ready or not, here they come. Emporium Melbourne’s official ribbon-cutting was scheduled for 9am this morning, but the anxious queues were there well before. One of the most anticipated openings inside the new, seven-storey mega-mall is cult Japanese basics label, Uniqlo, with its debut Australian store.
Following its Swanston Street pop-up in January this year, the permanent store is the latest major foreign retailer to join a very rapidly growing party, following Zara, Topshop, A.P.C., H&M and Muji, to name a few.
When you walk beneath the glowing red sign into the brightly lit store, the first thing you notice are the meticulously colour-coordinated shelves, arranged by jeans, T-shirts, cashmere jumpers and the brand’s iconic ULD (ultra-light down) vests. Housed over four floors (that’s 2150 square metres of shopping space), Uniqlo’s range covers men, women and children. You’re truly spoilt for choice, with all key apparel items offered in a range of 24 colours.
If you have any hesitation or enquiry, you can bet on finding an eager Uniqlo employee by your side in seconds – there is 320 staff in Melbourne alone.
The store is spacious, light, and easy to navigate. Well-dressed brand ambassadors smile down at you from posters on the walls – Pharrell Williams, local street artist Rone, even chef Andrew McConnell.
With more than 1300 stores worldwide, this is the 16th market that Uniqlo will have a presence in globally. If you’ve been to a Uniqlo store anywhere else in the world – don’t expect a dramatic reinvention. It has found a formula that works, and judging by the jostling lines out the front, its Australian fans agree.