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

Ascend the breathing rainbow to affordable cashmere and many colors of sock.

"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."

Not even $10. Elbows out on Friday, shoppers. 

Sure, I spent the morning touring a chain clothing store. But Uniqlo is an exciting chain clothing store, way more exciting than Target, although maybe not as exciting as Top Shop. Te Powell Street location is the fifth full-fledged US location, although a San Francisco pop-up shop has been open since August a few blocks away. Would you believe New Jersey got a full-sized Uniqlo before the Bay Area? It did :(

Nonetheless, Uniqlo's been busy at the hype game here in SF -- promotional gambits have included online games involving Japanese cult cat Maru, and panel discussions held in the pop-up with Goapele and Mission Chinese Food's Danny Bowein. 

Those $9.90 jeans are one of a few opening days sales -- you can also get their heavily-promoted, weirdly-lightweight down jackets for $49.90, and no less than six pairs of socks for $9.90. Uniqlo's big on basics, but a lot of the basics come with twists, like aforementioned Heatech line of heat-producing long underwear, tank tops, etc. I swooned at the SF store over the wool cocoon coats and Double Standard by Masahisa Takino line of solid, Helmut Lang-like pieces. Slouchy sweatshirt shrugs, futuristic-looking rain trenches, etc. 

But maybe you're in it for the majick. You'll find it here -- like I said the staircases breathe rainbow. There are rotating army of fedora-wearing rainbow-clad mannequins, LOOK: 


... and a mirror that, with the touch of a button, will change the color of the reflection of the fleece or down jacket you are wearing, so that you can see whether you're more of a rose or a silver. 

DISCLAIMER: By popular demand, we'd like to remind you that clothes produced in China are not subject to the same labor laws as clothes produced here in the United States (love you, Guardianistas.) Please note, Uniqlo has a mediocre history when it comes to these issues.

Uniqlo San Francisco store opening 


Store hours: Mon.-Sat., 10am-9pm; Sun., 10am-8pm

111 Powell, SF


China is the best. Congrats China.

Posted by Danny on Oct. 04, 2012 @ 9:23 am

i believe what the first commenter is saying is that yes, you mention that the clothes are made in china, but you don't go into the issur that their workers are probably paid sweatshop rates to sell clothes at that price.

Posted by tom on Oct. 04, 2012 @ 9:20 am

It's a chain store. We always think independent stores are better. The opening of this one, I think, was interesting enough to our readers for me to comment on.

Most people are aware that clothes from China (again, specifically mentioned that Uniqlo shit is produced there) are not fair trade, etc. That is why I didn't hammer the point over people's heads in this piece. But just in case they don't, and to make those who were offended by the piece feel better about our intentions, I've added a link to Uniqlo's factories' mediocre history of labor conditions.

I also think it's important, here, to point out that not all workers across the pond suffer conditions worse than the workers here in the United States. Ask Walmart -- its employees actually have a union in China.

Posted by caitlin on Oct. 04, 2012 @ 11:36 am

Is this a promo-advertisement here in the editorial section of the SFBG? Or am I missing "the irony"?

Uniqlo attire is made in China by laborers paid around $14 a day for 10 hous of work.

Posted by Troll the XIV on Oct. 04, 2012 @ 6:30 am

It's a review of a weird chain store. We mention that it is made in China in the second paragraph.

Totes with you.

Posted by caitlin on Oct. 04, 2012 @ 7:07 am