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A User's Guide To
UNIQLO's New Fifth Avenue Store

It's been a long time coming, but this Friday, UNIQLO's new global flagship will open its doors to the public at Fifth Avenue and 53rd Street. We're pretty sure that nobody has been as anxious to get their eyeballs on this store than The Shophound, and today we finally got a good look inside the most signifigant new new store in New York this season. Here's what we saw:

At a whopping 89,000 square feet, this location of the Japanese based chain will be the largest by far among its hundreds of store's worldwide. It is  2½ times the size of what was until now the only Uniqlo store in America, the five year old SoHo location —which at the time of its opening was itself the largest Uniqlo store ever.

UNIQLO5thAveEscalatorsThe first thing you see when you walk through the front door is an immense bank of escalators leading to the third floor. They all go up, not down, because the vast third floor is where all the action is, and it goes on and on and on. Most of the selling space is up there, and it contains the men's and women's regular lines. The floor is configured as a giant U-shape with women's lines placed at the back half of the store where the escalators let you off, and men's lines toward the front. There is a glass display box display area to spotlight the latest merchandise similar to the one at the SoHo store, a concierge desk for information and to facilitate things like alterations and other special requests, and huge banks of registers to minimize the checkout lines that often snake throughout the SoHo store. The most striking feature is the "swing tunnel" (pictured above) which connects the two sides of the store and will be used to focus on special collections and product lines. Currently, it is devoted to Heattech, the popular line of insulated t-shirts, innerwear and accessories now framed with mirrors and an LED ticker for maximum sensory stimulation.

The store, like the SoHo unit, has been designed by Wonderwall Inc., the Japanese architectural firm, and includes all the familiar minimalist elements like brushed steel, natural oak floors and crisp white walls, but now they are festooned with LED panels on stairs that continually change colors and video screens at every turn focusing on the brand's latest products, campaigns and special collections. It's as if they scooped up bits of what we imagine Tokyo's Ginza neighborhood must be like and liberally sprinkled it throughout the store.

UNIQLO5thAve+JThe second level of the store is entirely devoted to the final collection of +J, Uniqlo's wildly popular collaboration with the designer Jil Sander. The floor has been fully stocked with new goods, including many items that have already sold since this season's collection was released last month in SoHo. A final delivery of new items is reported to be arriving at the beginning of November, but we are told that that's it for this much loved label. Consider this an opportunity to grab some of those great pieces before it's all over. We can only guess what will take over the floor next season. Will it be the recently announced collaboration with Undercover's Jun Takahashi take over, or the ongoing Uniqlo Innovation Project (bottom Image) by Nicola Formichetti and former Issey Miyake protegé Naoki Takizawa which will launch with this store's opening, or some other as yet unannounced project?

UNIQLO5thAve3rdFlRegular Uniqlo shoppers know that it's always worthwhile to look out for special offers, and the store will be offering some particularly eye-popping special prices on some of its most popular items through October 30th at the Fifth Avenue store only. They are worth braving the crowds for, and they include:
Cashmere V-neck sweaters, normally $99.90 will be $49.90 for women and $59.90 for men.
Japanese Engineered Jeans in regular fit for men and skinny fit for women normally $39.90 to $49.90 at a mere $9.90.
Ultralight Down Jackets for men and women, normally $79.90 for $59.90.
Heattech collection items normally starting at $19.90 for $12.90.

UNIQLO5thAveCashmereSo expect to see even more Uniqlo activity leading up to Friday's opening throughout the city, including their portable pop-up cube shops which are currently at 53rd and Fifth but could appear anywhere. And keep an eye out for street teams handing out little packages of Uniqlo tissues. We hear that they are very hot in Japan, and allergy season is coming!

Honestly, we are expecting the store to be mobbed for the forseeable future, but don't get too discouraged. A third 64,000 square foot store will be opening on 34th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues only one week later on Friday the 21st, so that may help ease the crush of the crowds.

UNIQLO opens on Friday October 14th at 666 Fifth Avenue at 53rd Street and on Friday October 21st at 31 West 34th Street, between Fifth & Sixth Avenues


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