First Time Shopping in Japan: Uniqlo Ginza

Uniqlo is a Japanese casual and affordable fashion brand for women, men and kids established in 1949 in Ube, Yamaguchi. Since 2005, Fast Retailing Co., Ltd. has been the parent company of Uniqlo, alongside with J Brand, Comptoir des Cotonniers, G.U., Princesse Tam-Tam, and Theory. Nowadays, there are more than 1400 stores worldwide, including in Indonesia since 2013 and I’ve become a fan ever since.

Thus, I’m so excited when I heard there’s a 12-storey Uniqlo flagship store in Ginza area, although I wasn’t sure I would have time to search for it on purpose. Anyways, there are a lot of Uniqlo stores in Jakarta, Indonesia, already and I initially didn’t see the point of visiting another one in Tokyo. Until I realized that Ginza Bay Hotel, the capsule hotel where I stayed, was just 10 minutes walking distance from that store.

Uniqlo flagship store in Ginza, on Chuo Dori St, is 9th branch and the largest Uniqlo store in the world opening since March 16, 2012. The 12-storey building stands impressively, especially at night time, with its see-through façade and vibrant lighting from top to toe. In fact, it’s the brightest building I saw of all in the area.

Not to mention the eye-catching visual merchandising with giant posters showing a glimpse of mood board of seasonal collections on the first 2 floors and rotating mannequins doing Uniqlo runaways starting from the 3rd floor and up.

uniqlo ginza tokyo

The see-through concept continues inside, including the transparent elevator and its tube in the middle, as well as a group of mannequins placed inside a secluded glass room. The ceilings are covered with mirrors, whose reflections are able to “visually” widen the store interior. Each floor represents one type of collection only, e.g. Women’s Casual on the 5th floor or Kid’s and Baby’s on the 6th floor.

My favourite part is on the 11th floor, a special section for UT collections. I love the lighted glass cabinets covering both sides of the wall, displaying rows of hanged graphic t-shirts offering the latest themes for certain period of time, such as Disney, Star Wars, Lego, etc. LED boards placed above the cabinets remind me of those at Times Square New York that usually report stock market updates.

It felt like visiting a modern art museum in a dynamic atmosphere, representing past-paced and practical life of young people. Only that it offers quality clothing with value for money, not masterpieces only the rich and famous can afford.

uniqlo ginza tokyo

Apart from the modern-edgy looking store, perhaps there’s one question here. Is it still worth to visit if there are already Uniqlo stores in your city (in my case, in Jakarta)? I admit, in terms of the collection availability, Uniqlo flagship stores in Jakarta are very complete, including sunglasses and accessories. The only thing Jakarta stores don’t have are appliqués for kid’s wear, from alphabets to Moomin. Though they are cute, I don’t really sweat about their absence.

mickey mouse uniqlo ginza tokyo
Mickey Mouse statue on 11th floor

Nonetheless, let’s take a look at the price tags. Remember that it does not include 8% VAT. I checked the price of the navy blue Eyelet Shorts, one of my favourite Uniqlo collections I’ve been spotting since its launch in Jakarta. I was waiting for the special offer that had not come yet until I left for Japan. It was ¥ 2,990 (approximately Rp. 360,000 or $ 30) before tax.

I couldn’t recall the price of the shorts in Jakarta, but I took a chance of buying one. I had a feeling that it wasn’t more expensive than that in Jakarta. After tax, I paid ¥ 3,225 ($ 29 or Rp. 390,000). Returning to Jakarta, I was very curious about how much my shorts sold in my hometown. It turned out that it cost Rp. 599,000 ($ 50). Wow!

I heard that Uniqlo stores in United Kingdom and Australia are more expensive than those in Jakarta. So, imagine how cheap they are in Japan! I wish I bought more Uniqlo stuffs there!

Moreover, if you spend over ¥ 10,000 ($ 90 or Rp. 1,200,000), you can claim for a tax refund. The forms are provided at the cashier and you can ask them for more information. As long as I remember, the staffs’ English proficiency is pretty good.

uniqlo_eyelet_shorts_in_navy_blue
eyelet shorts

Another unique experience I got was the manner in the fitting room, where shoes and sandals are not allowed to use inside, just like entering any ryokans in the country. At first, it felt a bit troublesome as I needed to untie my shoestrings every time I wanted to try any clothes and tied them back when I left the room.

But soon, I started to feel comfortable. There was no trace of muds, soil, shoe sole prints whatsoever. To be honest, it was my first time not to worry about my trousers and some other belongings getting dirty after they drop on the floor. So, yeah. I truly appreciate this kind of particular culture and I wish fashion stores outside Japan do the same thing.

uniqlo ginza tokyo

Finally, the answer is a big YES to the question, “Is Uniqlo Ginza still worth to visit if there are already Uniqlo stores in your city?”

Not only do the collections cost less compared to those in Jakarta (and probably in your city), but it also proves that modern and casual fashion can look very tempting and more upscale (without breaking your bank account) when displayed attractively, maintaining excellence cleanliness inside and out, including the shoes-free fitting rooms.

Continue reading “First Time Shopping in Japan: Uniqlo Ginza”

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What I Think about Holiday Survival Tips from Puma

Some years ago (circa 2006?), Puma distributed leaflets with year-end holiday season as a theme, where I took it from Puma Concept Store in Amsterdam. Instead of publishing fancy photography of new arrivals and limited edition, they shared an instructional content related to several aspects of gift shopping spree to consider. It was written in four most spoken languages (it won’t be Dutch), from English, French, German (the mother tongue of Puma’s country of origin) to Japanese (why not Chinese as well?).

Do you have a ritual Christmas activity, for instance exchanging gifts with friends or family, besides going to church? May be these tips are useful for you. Check them out.

puma leaflet

Since the texts are too small to read, I’ll retype what it says in every section:

ABOUT THIS LEAFLET: When preparing for the festive period, refer to this leaflet for some handy tips.

Okay. Nonetheless, I wonder if I really can refer to their handy tips real life. Somehow, I have my own perspective in some of the tips they shared. I don’t know whether you second with my opinion or not, but it doesn’t matter anyways.

puma tip 101

HOLIDAY SURVIVAL TIP #101: LIFTING HEAVY GIFTS

When lifting heavy gifts, whether giving or receiving: bend the knees, squat right down and keep your back straight.

Here’s what I think:

I couldn’t agree more. Lifting heavy objects in the correct way will prevent back pain and injury. Do not hesitate to ask for help unless you’re able to do it on your own. Well, I’m not gonna suffer myself (and others) by buying heavy gifts. My motto: shop light. Nada mas.

puma tip 102

HOLIDAY SURVIVAL TIP #102: CROWDS

Be smart and prepare yourself before navigating through crowded streets. A small amount of personal protection should be considered essential.

Here’s what I think:

Unless you plays hockey, you don’t have to dress that way. Brushing one’s shoulder could be inevitable in crowded places. I’d rather protect my valuable belongings, e.g. a smartphone and a wallet, by never keeping my handbag out of my sight and left open. I often hug it close to my body while walking.

puma tip 103HOLIDAY SURVIVAL TIP #103: CORRECT SHOPPING FOOTWEAR

Holiday shopping can involve several hours of leg work. Ensure you are wearing suitable foot attire before embarking on such activities.

Here’s what I think:

Right. This tip is especially address to ladies. Flat shoes with comfortable soles are simply the best option for a long walk. High-heels look sexy, but not good for a long term use. They do more than just hurting your feet.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/27/high-heels-infographic_n_3512091.html
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/27/high-heels-infographic_n_3512091.html

I’m not asking you to toss your Louboutin and Manolo (or just mediocre heeled shoes) away, but limit your time wearing the heels. Do some exercises after that. I love heels, don’t get me wrong. Nonetheless, I only wear them for occasions where I need to be more formal and prettier and do not walk much.

Really, skating shoes and Dutch klompen (clogs) for shopping? Whoahaha, no further comments.

puma tip 104

HOLIDAY SURVIVAL TIP #104: PUBLIC TRANSPORT

Travelling on crowded public transport during holiday season can be an anti-social experience. Try getting to know the person next to you a little better.

Here’s what I think:

Does the picture on the right side look a bit too intimate for someone you just met? I get the point, though. But I wouldn’t be the one to initiate it. I’m just too shy. Suppose you want to do so, get to know the local culture in the first place. Observe his or her mood before you act. Lat but not least, watch you manner.

puma tip 105

HOLIDAY SURVIVAL TIP #105: INDECISION

Choosing the right gift is always difficult. Indecision can hit any time. If in doubt always buy both.

Here’s what I think:

Check the return policy first. If the goods are non-refundable, think twice before you buy. Ask a friend or family if necessary. On returnable goods, no matter if it’s 2, 3 days or 1 month, choose a store closer to home or work to get ones, so it won’t take too much time to return or exchange the goods in the future. I’d rather compare with other stores, or revisit the same store to get the right gift. There must be an alternative in case the one you want is out of stock. Be creative.

Not creative enough? Phone, text a friend or relative to ask.

puma tip 106

HOLIDAY SURVIVAL TIP #106: WAITING IN LINE 

Standing straight for any length of time is awkward. Keep your shoulders back and stand tall to look and feel better.

Here’s what I think:

Standing up straight is one of the ways to improve your health and build a self-esteem. Moreover, it is able to avoid headache, back pain, neck pain and fatigue. And stop slouching, too! Be observant with your surroundings and think something positive, creative will trigger new inspiration that could be just about anything, such as new plots for your next novel, business opportunity, etc. By doing so, you can avoid boredom easily. Reading news and playing games on your smartphone will do as well, but keep yourself alert when your turn comes next.

puma tip 107

 HOLIDAY SURVIVAL TIP #107: RETAIL FATIQUE

Exhaustion and weakness from shopping can strike at any time. Be prepared, keep a high energy snack handy in a bag or pocket.

Here’s what I think:

I don’t know how much time you need to shop. If it takes long and you only have limited time, bringing snack from home is a good idea to save time (and money). The healthier one the better, of course. In my case, consuming boiled egg or some dark chocolate before (or while) going out will hold my hunger for hours. They are very energizing! Don’t forget to drink a lot of water.

If you have all the time in the world, eating and hanging out in a cafe is a great way to chill out from retail fatigue. Even better to do it with a friend(s).

puma tip 108

HOLIDAY SURVIVAL TIP #108: MULTIPLE LOADS

Avoid being laden down with multiple shopping bags. Try bringing a friend or family member to help spread the load.

Here’s what I think:

Good idea, as long as he or she doesn’t feel enslaved by you. Reward them with treating in a restaurant, or pay the parking lot or the bus ticket for them after shopping. However, suppose you are shopping alone, gather multiple items in the same shopping bag to make it more handy. If everything you want is too heavy to carry yourself in one day, why don’t you do that another day if it’s not urgent?

puma tip 109

 HOLIDAY SURVIVAL TIP #109: FESTIVE MUSIC

Festive music in stores and on the streets getting too much? Beat the stress by getting in the spirit or simply join it.

Here’s what I think:

Watch your bag and wallet while mingling with crowds. Behave accordingly in public, you’re not alone in this world. If you still can’t handle it, you’d better avoid it and visit the same place another day.

puma tip 110HOLIDAY SURVIVAL TIP #109: BAD GIFTS (I swear it’s written that way. I believe it was meant “110”, yet a typing error occurred from the advertising team’s side)

Don’t worry about all those unwanted gifts you might get. Remember, you can always give them to someone on your list next year.

Here’s what I think:

There are several ways to handle it. Give them to someone else who fits, and absolutely not the one who gave you the unwanted gift. Don’t do it with the same group of people with whom you exchange the gift. Sell them to second hand store, build your own garage sale.

Good deeds, why not? Isn’t it part of Christmas resolutions? Give them to less fortunate people from reputable organizations, like Salvation Army, Goodwill or else, if they are still in good condition.

It’s all up to you.

IN A NUTSHELL…..

By delivering a bit of sense of humor in the illustration, I think holiday survival tips is an out of the box idea as a promotional tool. Nobody asks you to agree and obey all of them, but if it is something positive that helps improving your look, your health and more, there’s no harm to see the bright side of it.

I wish you all happy holidays and save trip! Merry Christmas for Christians around the globe!