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Japanese retail whips SF into a frenzy -- but are they that much different than the chain stores we already have?



STREET SEEN To the casual observer, it may have appeared as if I had taken a painful, rainy early morning Muni ride into SoMa for the sole purpose of eating plastic-wrapped Japanese pancakes filled with red bean paste in a chain store. But to adherents of the Muji phenomenon, I was actually witnessing the birth of cross-Pacific retail revolution.Read more »

Cheap basics, side of rainbow magic: Uniqlo's full-size store opens this week


"We're trying to impress you with the amount of colors we have for socks," says Aldo Liguori, Uniqlo global director of corporate PR as he guides us through his Japanese clothing brand's soon-to-be-open San Francisco store. There are indeed, a lot of sock colors. The three-story Union Square space is home to many wonders, however. Walls of affordably-priced cashmere sweaters, a magic mirror, color-shifting staircases, heat-generating clothing, and -- perhaps most compelling to your reporter -- a $9.90 special on "Japanese engineered denim."

They have eggplant, dark gold, forest-colored jeans. An autumn palette rainbow. Grab them while they last. "They are manufactured in ChIina," said Liguori in a reserved cadence befitting a person whose office is in the Minato ward of Tokyo. "But to Uniqlo Japanese standards." Read more »