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Uniqlo is latest addition to downtown L.A.’s the Bloc

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Uniqlo’s downtown Los Angeles store at the Bloc.

Fast Retailing Co. Ltd.’s Uniqlo on Thursday opens its ninth store in the Los Angelesarea in downtown at lifestyle center The Bloc.

The retail center, which has a Macy’s and recently opened Nordstrom Local, is part of a mixed-use project that also includes the Sheraton Grand Los Angeles hotel and office space.

The center was redeveloped following National Real Estate Advisors, The Ratkovich Co. and Blue Vista Capital Management partnering in 2013 to acquire what was then the Macy’s Plaza, spending some $180 million to turn it from indoor mall to outdoor center.

For Uniqlo, the two-story door is its ninth in the Los Angeles area and totals 12,000 square feet.

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Los Angeles is viewed as a critical market for the retailer and downtown’s momentum with new development, restaurants, entertainment and the arts was an attractive pitch for Uniqlo, according to the company’s head of U.S. marketing Suzanne Seymour.

“I think that we have over the past few years, especially, put extra emphasis and care on growing and expanding in this market,” Seymour said. “That’s why we’re excited about this opening at The Bloc. It’s been a highly anticipated door for us internally. New York is our home market and here in the U.S. is the fashion capital, but L.A. is equally so.”

To bring an element of the community in, the company partnered with students from the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, in addition to two local chefs, to show how they personally styled Uniqlo products. FIDM students also worked with Fast Retailing’s nearby Jeans Innovation Center on an in-store installation focused on sustainability in denim.

It’s not the first time the retailer’s partnered with local groups on custom design elements to help localize a store in a bid to learn more from the consumer.

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“We’re not looking at it really as a business driver as much as developing goodwill with the local community,” Seymour said. “A lot of what we’re doing when we’re measuring these types of activities is really talking to the customers and getting their feedback and understanding if it’s valuable and meaningful to them.”


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