Until I arrived at Sarah Lawrence, I had never heard of Uniqlo, a Japanese retailer that sells casualwear. As of now, there are Uniqlo stores in New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and California. The brand is rapidly expanding, hoping to generate 10 billion dollars from US retailers by 2020, and to have a location in every major city in America. In July, Uniqlo announced the opening of a Chicago store, their first location in the Midwest.
I was told that one of the best places to find a relatively inexpensive, warm winter coat was Uniqlo, so during parents’ weekend I made the trek down to the fifth avenue flagship store to see what I could find. One of the special characteristics of many items from Uniqlo is Heattech, a fabric that allows for wearers to stay warm and comfortable through 8 functions: heat of absorption, heat retention, stretchable comfort, anti-static, soft texture, odor control, texture, and maintaining shape. These qualities could make for the perfect apparel to survive a New York winter: Uniqlo even outfits employees of New York Water Taxi. While not every product that Uniqlo sells is Heattech, one can find Heattech shirts, pants, leggings, tights, gloves, socks, and more.
While browsing through the 5th Avenue store, I noticed a wide variety of customers. Most of Uniqlo’s items are not loud or covered in patterns, and come in standard solid colors in a utilitarian style. Think of American Apparel’s basics at lower prices, and similar styles to H&M, but higher quality. Uniqlo’s generally affordable prices and well-made styles allow the brand to reach a diverse audience. Both my mother and fifteen year old brother managed to find clothing they liked in the store. In the check out line, I stood beside elderly New Yorkers and a young family of tourists.
I found myself going overboard as I went through the aisles of the massive store holding my basket. While I am typically attracted to patterns, the clothing at Uniqlo made minimalism appealing. But if you want an interesting print, look no further: Uniqlo collaborated with MOMA to create a line of artist-inspired apparel, representing Keith Harring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Andy Warhol on tee-shirts, sweatpants, and even down jackets. For winter coats, Uniqlo offers several styles and levels of warmth with short and long down and ultra lite down jackets, as well as wool and cashmere pea coats, ranging from ninety to two hundred dollars.
I have been wearing my Uniqlo down coat for about three weeks, and it has kept me quite warm and comfortable. The zipper is the only problem: it frequently gets stuck when I am trying to take the coat off. In general, I am glad that I made the purchase and I look forward to wearing it more as the temperature drops. The Heattech gloves that I purchased are also quite cozy, although they make using a touch screen phone pretty difficult. I recommend Uniqlo for any winter apparel needs, and if you are looking for gifts to give this holiday season, check out one of Uniqlo’s NYC locations.