Uniqlo, the popular Japanese clothing chain that New York fashionistas love to rave about, is eyeing San Francisco for its first U.S. store outside of Manhattan. According to the Wall Street Journal, a 29,000 square foot West Coast flagship store is expected to open this Fall and will serve as an anchor for the hundreds of retail outlets parent Fast Retailing Co. plans to roll out to cities and shopping malls across the country.
The chain, run by Japanese billionaire Tadashi Yanai does most of its business by quickly turning fashion trends in to ready-to-wear mass-market goods and is viewed as a direct competitor to retailers like the Gap and H&M — both of which already have a large presence in San Francisco. While we've been hearing rumors of Uniqlo's impeding arrival for some time now, the Journal doesn't offer many clues as to the new store's location other than "near where Gap Inc. first opened its doors." (Somehow, we don't think that means Ocean Avenue.)
Anyhow, there was some buzz about the store setting up shop in the old Virgin Megastore, but that has since become the massive XXI Forever cougar supply store. There was also talk of a space in the Metreon, but as far as we can tell whatever square footage isn't being devoted to the new Target looks to be taken up by smaller shops and restaurants. That said, there's a big retail lease available at 801 Market that would put Uniqlo in the same building as Old Navy's bargain basement threads and just two blocks from two different H&M locations. We won't count on Uniqlo at 4th and Market until we see it, but the easy money says the colorful new shop won't be too far from Gap's Powell Street flagship and all those Union Square shoppers hungry for a piece of a label they can't get back in the suburbs.
Update: As a clothes-hungry readers pointed out, fashion blog Refinery29 reports the San Francisco Uniqlo will be occupying 111 Powell, which puts it directly between Gap's flagship store and H&M's big standalone retail spot. Along with Urban Outfitters, Sketchers, Desigual and eventually an Express where the Gold Dust Lounge is currently holding on for dear life, Powell Street is becoming something of San Francisco's discount shopping corridor.