Uniqlo has already featured as a store of the week during 2012 (in Paris), but there are few excuses for not affording it space once more because the Shanghai flagship, on the West Nanjing Road, does things that other branches do not.
That it is big is a given, but it’s the mechanical elements that really impress. Inside the main entrance there is a circular area above which glass capsules, each containing a mannequin, rotate endlessly.
Those with long memories may recall something similar in the 1970s cult sci-fi film Logan’s Run, when inhabitants who were about to be “renewed” went on carousel (they all ended up dying, in fact). Whether this is reminiscent of a sci-fi flick or not, it is a real piece of in-store excitement and it is not the only element that is worth taking a look at.
At the other end of the store, a glass tube that extends from the bottom to the top of this three-floor edifice contains three mannequins on platforms. These rotate and rise and fall within the space. That most 1990s of buzz retail terms, ‘retail theatre’, is what this is about and, even though the store is a couple of years old, it feels fresh and for shoppers it’s a little like becoming part of a movie set.
It is also, like other Uniqlo global flagships, quite different from its sister stores – providing a further reason to drop in and take a look if you happen to find yourself in China’s booming commercial capital. Turn up shortly before 10am (opening time) and you’ll be able to witness the company huddle and bow.