"Welcome to the best Uniqlo store in the world," says the booming voice over the announcement system.
That's a pretty bold claim, considering Uniqlo now operates some 1,500 outlets in 16 different countries (and counting), but it helps when your store happens to be situated on the busiest street of the most upscale district in Tokyo. With a floor space of 5,000 square meters and standing 12 stories high, Uniqlo Ginza is the brand's flagship store in Japan, and also the second largest Uniqlo outlet in the world.
It is difficult to stand out amidst all the glitz and glamour in Ginza, but Uniqlo Ginza aims to capture the attention of every window shopper. The company hired architect Katayama Masamichi, famed for his work on boutique Collette, to head a creative team in order to achieve this objective.
The result is a visual spectacle unlike anything I've ever seen in an apparel retailer. Featuring rows of revolving mannequins, the entirely transparent glass facade of Uniqlo Ginza forms an impressively hypnotic installation that also doubles as advertising to feature Uniqlo's latest offerings. Equally tasteful is the shop interior, with the heavy use of LED lights and glass displays to attract visitors inwards and upwards through each floor.
Of particular note is the 11th floor. Although each story features its own unique displays, the 11th floor is far ahead in terms of its innovative merchandise display. Resembling a futuristic hall of fame, the walls on either sides of the this level are decked with full shirt-only displays of the limited edition UT designs available at the time. Topped off with dot-matrix displays running the length of the floor above the shirts, the metallic-theme UT level was especially flooded with shoppers, many of them whipping out mobile phones and cameras to capture the amazing scene.
Uniqlo Ginza certainly spared no expense in providing shoppers an experience like none other, and the result is one best conveyed in pictures; or better yet experienced first-hand by visiting the Uniqlo Ginza flagship store yourself. Even if you aren't a shopaholic, prepare to lose yourself for hours taking in Uniqlo Ginza, and perhaps you might also find your wallet a tad lighter by the time you are done.
The Yamaha Ginza flagship store can be accessed via Tokyo Metro, alighting at Ginza Station that serves the Ginza, Hibiya and Maruouchi lines. From the station, the flagship store is a short 3 minute walk down Ginza's main street - Chuo Dori. Alternatively, the flagship store is also a 12 minute walk from JR Shinbashi station that serves 4 JR lines, including the prominent JR Yamanote line.