If you've been shelling out for designer clothing in the hopes that it will be more durable than cheaper options, you might want to reconsider.
By Yiting Wang, Mengxin Li
May 30, 2018
A new study from The University of Leeds suggests that low-cost clothing might actually outlast pricier pieces.
Uniqlo, in essence, is a tech company, competing against Apple instead of Gap, according to Tadashi Yanai, President of Fast Retailing. Just before his retirement, Uniqlo set another goal for its online business.
Tadashi Yanai, CEO of Fast Retailing Co Ltd (TYO:9983) recently said the corp will double the online sales volume of its core brand Uniqlo in the following two years, enlarging it to JPY￥ 300 b ($ 2.7 b), which will account for 20% of its total sales volume.
The study was led by Dr. Mark Sumner, a lecturer in fashion and sustainability. Using samples of T-shirts and jeans from a variety of brands and price points, researchers measured factors such as seam strength, colorfastness, and how long it took for the fabric of each piece to develop rips or tears.
According to Fast Retailings financial report of year 2017, though Uniqlos online sales volume soared by 31.6%, its online revenue only reached JPY￥140 b, accounting for 7.5% of its total revenue and falling far behind its rival, Inditexs fast-fashion brand Zara, which scored an online revenue of JPY￥ 330 b.
Tadashi Yanai revealed that reform will happen in two ways. On one hand, Uniqlo will connect global distribution channels via a brand new website. On the other hand, it will strengthen its basic product line and sell exclusive items online.
Despite the popular notion that designer clothes are more sturdily constructed than off-the-rack items, the study found that fast-fashion shirts and jeans usually out-performed their luxury counterparts.
On top of that, Uniqlo also announced within this fiscal year it will speed up itsoverseas expansion with main focus on Asian market. Its worth noting that the brands revenue overseas surged by 29.2% to JPY￥ 507.4 b, overtaking its domestic market for the first time.
In a time when global retailing is downsizing, Uniqlo bucks the trend to integrate its channels online and offline. Uniqlos former global VMD director Uchida Fumio pointed out that the brand prefers to build a model of online order and offline delivery.
"Some of the garments performed very well across a wide range of tests — more often than not, the best products were 'fast-fashion' products," Dr. Sumner told?The Telegraph.
Fast Retailings CFO Okazaki said the corp has established new delivery centers in China and America that will provide same-day or overnight deliveries.
The next step of Uniqlos digitalization is personalization through a steady transfer to AI. Now the company is testing the water by providing semi-tailored services. Ever since last September, Japanese customers were able to pick out semi-finished articles and adjust the size, color and details such as collar and cuff patterns to their liking.
"Jeans from one fashion brand lasted twice as long as a designer label jeans, but cost one-tenth of the price of the designer jeans," he said.
新宝2登陆 ，Consumers can draw their unique patterns on Uniqlos App and order custom-made T-shirts on UT line, a service which will be accessible worldwide.
Analysts believe custom service extends the diversity of products at a minimum cost. Uniqlo specializes in basic models and invests heavily in functional features, rendering its products less fashionable than counterparts of other fast-fashion brands. But with consumers own design, its products become more fun and personal.
According to Dr. Sumner's interview with?The Telegraph, designer label T-shirts were "the worst performing" in all of the tests. Surprisingly, T-shirts from an online fast-fashion brand held up the best.
But for Uniqlo, its more essential to hold on to customers physiological data for personalized recommendation and CMR (customer-managed relationship). The service now is available on its App for customers to access on their smart phones.
Through Uniqlo App, t-shirts of UT collection can be customized with prints individually online, which is gradually promoted globally.
Of course, price isn't the only thing to consider when shopping for new threads. The fashion industry is a huge source of environmental pollution, with low-cost clothing contributing heavily to landfill waste and carbon gas emissions.
According to Uchida Fumio, the brainpower of the application is UNIQLO IQ, an AI tool that visualizes the whole supply chain. As soon as an order is placed, the information will go to the headquarter, meaning customers get to track their purchase from production to delivery on their cell phones.
As a matter of fact, the heavy investment in digitalization accords with Uniqlos long-prized value of functionality. On The Art and Science of LifeWearexposition last year, Mr. Yanai emphasized the importance of functionality overfed. As he put it, fashion trends will transform overtime, but Uniqlo will weather any conditions with its unparalleled functionality and comfort.