Some months ago I got excited about this japanese Retailer UNIQLO who do things pretty differently including a Robot shop assistant called Wakamuru and some of the whackiest, zanniest ideas in Retailing.
Well, those guys are back in the news again. UNIQLO now have a tie up with China’s largest online shopping portal taobao.com who reportedly have some 100 million online shoppers registered with them. The portal is owned by a the Alibaba Group ( !!) . I did not realise Alibaba was such popular metaphor across that part of Asia as well. Hmmm…
UNIQLO will open their Flagship click and mortar store on Taobao and will get hugely promoted by Alibaba!
Incidentally UNIQLO is the largest fashion retail chain in japan with 800 stores ( there are about as many Coffee Days in India, isnt it ?) and its owned by Fast Retailing co. who also own the European Lingerie brand ‘Princesse Tam Tam’ amongst others.
Its interesting to know that Fast Retailing had unsuccessfully offered a bid of $900 million for Barneys New York department store in 2007.
Amongst their many creative ideas in Fashion Retail, I found a very interesting UNIQLO concept of Container Stores. I like it since it is so relevant for Indian Retail with our street markets, Diwali melas and crazy real estate prices ! The UNIQLO container is hardworking store with strip windows and an external generator for lights and POS. The door and ramp fold on hydraulic struts. The designers for the UNIQLO Containers are LOT-EK
Sharing pic of a UNIQLO ‘Container’ store in New York :
Pic source : http://www.psfk.com/2006/10/uniqlo_containe.html
I have been snowed under millions of little things that if added together do not unfortunately add up to ‘work’. But the fact remains that I have been snowed under. For a morose period of time I have wondered if I will ever get this blog to life again. That’s funny since I have got a total of 1.25 readers on the blog anyway ! But that at-least is a Sign of life !
What got me stirring again was something I read today about the Jap fashion retailer Uniqlo. At times when the Japanese economy is bracing recession, Uniqlo it seems is cruising along. What they do well and differently from the rest is stick to a strong and clear cut positioning – simple, modern, cool clothes sold in a minimalist setting with the trademark japanese style service.
Keeping with the ‘modernity’ promise they keep the brand renewed by innovation. The latest are ‘Heat Tech’ range of clothes including thermal underpants that converts moisture to heat ! I bet we could do with those in Delhi this winter !
To launch the Heat Tech range the store had a ‘human’ vending machine distribute free products to visitors – basically a big transparent box with a girl miming robotic vending machine actions. It looks funny but I guess it got them the required attention.
More in store is a cute little Robot store assistant called Wakamuru who blogs and some crazy, quirky Advertising. Check out !
The Hermes ‘Plush Horse’ sells at $490 ! Chrissake, that is twenty three thousand Indian rupees !
I understand Nicole Kidman and the likes buy these gifts for babies of Tom Cruise and the likes. What I don’t understand why anyone who is not on Hollywood ( or Bollywood) should buy the Hermes horsey for little kids to feed to their doggies ?!
America’s bust but the Hermes Horsey is still selling, never mind why ! Also proves that the ultra high end of the luxury market is safe and sound in any economy.
Back home, population of high net-worth individuals was estimated at 1,23,000 in 2007. That is up 22.7 % from 2006, making Indians the fastest-growing wealthy population in the world as per FICCI. It is also estimated by an independent Luxury player that there are about 1.6 million households in India earning $100,000 a year.
Earlier this year I read in the Business Standard that Hermes quietly launched their first store in India in Delhi in May this year at the Oberoi’s in partnership with the wife of PRS Oberoi’s grandson Ashok Khanna. Incidently Khanna also owns the celebrated Ananda Spa. Since they launched too quietly for comfort, I wrote to the Hermes guys asking if they indeed have a store in India. I got back a cryptic reply saying “we currently do not have a store in India”.
I am scratching my head now. Did they come or did they go ?
As I stood outside the Grand Hyatt in Bombay after the Images Retail Awards, waiting for my car – I spotted Jesse Randhava in front of me. There were a few painted others who were younger and maybe from the time that I stopped following page 3 news. The inaugural HDIL India Couture Week was happening at the same venue and I couldn’t help but think that no matter what, recession never hits the Indian fashion industry. Or the real Estate Industry for that matter. Or if it hits them, it takes a long time for the message to sink in ! And in keeping with that spirit you have a real estate company called Housing Development & Infrastructure Limited ( HDIL) sponsoring the Couture Week ! He He ! Funny.
The organisers, FDCI had discreetly said earlier that said that the Couture Week was timed to appeal to India’s wealthy elite and expatriate Indians ahead of the autumn wedding season. And to catch the Big Fat Indian Wedding season, the Delhi Fashion Week begins on October 14, Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week starts in Delhi the next day, and Lakme Fashion Week begins on October 20 in Bombay. Hallelujah !
The great indian wedding show, truly, deeply and always goes on.