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Uniqlo is a major casualwear producer and retailer, wholly owned by parent company Fast Retailing. The brand has its beginnings as a tailor shop in Ube, Japan known as Ogori Shoji, opened in March 1949. Currently, Uniqlo has 1,400 stores in 16 markets worldwide and boasts collaborations with the likes of Jil Sander and Pharrell Williams, as well as NIGO as its Uniqlo UT creative director. The first Uniqlo shop was opened in May 1984 in Hiroshima as the unisex casualwear store “Unique Clothing Warehouse.” The name was later shortened to “Uniqlo,” while CEO Tadashi Yanai changed the name of his father’s company Ogori Shoji to “Fast Retailing” in September 1991. By April 1994, there were over 100 Uniqlo stores throughout Japan. Learning from the strategies of American retailer The Gap, Uniqlo consolidated all of its design, production and retailing in-house, selling its products exclusively at its retail outlets, and outsourcing production to Chinese factories for their cheap labor. During an economic recession in the late ‘90s, Uniqlo’s cheap wardrobe essentials proved to be popular, and following the opening of its first major urban store in Tokyo’s trendy Harajuku district in November 1998, the brand saw rapid expansion into 500 branches nationwide, and the opening of stores in Shanghai and London in 2002. However, the company hit hard times in 2002 and 2003, experiencing lower-than-expected sales in England and falling profits as a result. However, the acquisition of other fashion labels, along with new designer collaborations and a coordinated celebrity ad campaign restored the company’s economic viability, with the 2005 - 2007 period seeing expansions across Asia and the United States, reaching sales of $4 billion USD. Its ambitious 2020 plan also aims for Uniqlo to be the world’s biggest clothes retailer by the year 2020, with expected annual global sales of 5 trillion yen ($12.2 billion USD).

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Christophe Lemaire joins Uniqlo as Creative Director of the Uniqlo U collection


April - Collaborated with Pharrell Williams on a capsule collection entitled “i am OTHER”


Streetwear mogul NIGO is appointed Creative Director of UT, Uniqlo’s t-shirt division


May - Tennis player Novak Djokovic beings endorsing for Uniqlo


German fashion designer Jil Sander joins Uniqlo as Creative Director


April - Uniqlo sets a global sales goal of $10 billion


Sales hit $4 billion


November - Uniqlo opens their first urban Uniqlo store in Tokyo’s trendy Harajuku district, and outlets soon spread to major cities throughout Japan


Fast Retailing adopts a set of strategies from American retailer The Gap, known as “SPA” (for specialty-store/retailer of private-label apparel), meaning that they would produce their own clothing and sell it exclusively


The name of the company is changed from "Ogori Shōji" to "Fast Retailing"


During administration work between Hong Kong in relation to the brand, staff in charge of registration misreads the "C" as "Q", and that is how the brand name is born


May - Ogori Shōji opens a unisex casual wear store in Fukuro-machi, Naka-ku, Hiroshima under the name "Unique Clothing Warehouse"


March - A Yamaguchi-based company, Ogori Shōji (which, until then, has been operating men's clothing shops called "Men's Shop OS") is operating in Ube, Yamaguchi
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