Enter the Outerwear Oasis with Uniqlo

The store Uniqlo is not a novel find by any stretch of the imagination. The first store from this Japanese brand arrived in the U.S. in the Soho shopping district in New York City in November 2006. While it has expanded to 200 stores nationwide, it’s name does not roll off of the tongue of fast fashion consumers the way that H&M, Zara or Top Shop does. For the latter fact alone it was worth investigating the brand by visiting its flagship location on Fifth Avenue. After carefully perusing the men’s section it became pretty apparent that the brand’s strong suit was in outerwear. Their offering in all other categories didn’t have the same appeal. From this it is safe to conclude and summarize Uniqlo as the following: an affordable hub for innovative and skillfully designed outerwear.

Price Point: For the man on a budget one of Uniqlo's shining components is its accessible price point. What a given consumer will receive by participating in this entry level commerce of sorts are technologically imbued and modernly designed outputs like a convertible collar coat (With Lining) for $130. Then there is the healthy competition between the ultra light down jackets at $60, and the ultra light down ribbed Blouson at $80. Furthermore, you have products that speak to the world of tomorrow such as the $70 block tech hooded parka. On the opposite end a consumer can enjoy classic options like the soft bomber MA-1 Blouson priced quite reasonably at $50. Lastly, there is the mecca of them all - the denim jackets . On average these no frills, undecorated, non-distressed, and in tact garments without unnecessary rips will cost a man on the hunt just $40. When it comes to the austere considerations of economics, you can't get any better than meticulously engineered product at a price that won't leave you hungry, or without light or gas. 

From left to right: Convertible collar coat and slim fit oxford shirt.

From left to right: Convertible collar coat and slim fit oxford shirt.

The Good: Uniqlo’s interior design is spaciously lain out, and while it is earnestly stocked the selection is not overwhelming. While the men’s section is, naturally, available on a diminutive scale relative to the women’s, it includes all categories. For the men looking for basics to replace or add into their wardrobes, i.e. bomber jackets, non-distressed denim, working chinos, or crewneck sweaters, Uniqlo is effectively equipped. On a personal note, the offering was so streamlined that I was compelled to purchase a mid-wash blue denim jacket for only $40. This was a pre-meditated purchase that came after shopping at other retailers and being unhappily met with either shearling lined or heavily distressed options. Moreover, there is ample inventory at the consumers’ disposal. Any given customer will find his size on end of season sale styles and new spring arrivals alike. What the latter does is create an environment of breadth in product selection, which is a rare feat for men when shopping at mainstream retail spaces.

The Bad: One of the primary negative aspects of Uniqlo is that the store does not have a fashion forward product offering. Albeit the fits presented are incredibly modern and of the times, design elements such as colors, patterns, and silhouettes are not as cutting edge in the vain of Zara or Top Shop/Top Man. Another disqualifying trait of Uniqlo is that the quality of the button-down shirts and cotton chinos are not great. Neither garments have a luxurious feel to the touch as does the outerwear. This contra-asset is of significance as cutting-edge quality is a factor that has established this brand in the ever-growing fast fashion market.

Cufflinks: Uniqlo – for all of the product lines in which it provides, and its ubiquitous presence in the retail landscape – will receive 3 cufflinks. To put it frankly, this brand does not provide the product assortment that a young professional male with stylish proclivities is looking for. A man of style can procure affordable basics to both a casual and business casual extent, but that is not enough. While it provides great quality outerwear at an expedient price, it is very limited in what the style savvy man of today is looking for. One can justifiably commend the Uniqlo creative team for not conforming to the overdesigned nods to Insta-famous trends that their competitors are keen on. Conversely, for the guy looking for a single location to fulfill his wardrobe, or trying to piece together an entire outfit, this is likely not the place for him.