Japanese Fast Fashion Brand Uniqlo Enters Semi Made-To-Order Clothing Market

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Japanese fast fashion juggernaut Uniqlo plans to broaden sales of semi-made-to-order clothing around the world with the aim of accelerating growth.

Its fast retailing unit already offers made-to-measure clothing in Japan. Customers supply measurements or have them taken in-store, place orders, and receive items at home in days.

A similar service recently debuted in the US market, starting with men's shirts. More than 800 colour and style combinations are offered online, with orders delivered in three to seven business days. At US$ 29.90, the pieces are as affordable as regular shirt selections.

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Incidentally, Chinese facilities producing quality clothing for Uniqlo will handle production of semi-custom apparel. Uniqlo plans to offer the service in Southeast Asia, Europe and elsewhere as well.

Uniqlo has kept prices low by mass-producing pieces designed and planned far in advance of sale, but as consumer tastes diversify, the company’s Fast Retailing Chairman and CEO Tadashi Yanai is pushing data-driven production and retailing as a new business model.

The company is starting out with semi-custom clothing to establish the production and sales infrastructure for bespoke offerings down the road.

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Uniqlo's online sales total an estimated 100 billion yen (US$ 881 million) globally. Fast Retailing targets worldwide sales of 3 trillion yen, including from other brands. Global online sales, propelled by semi-custom clothing, should come to account for roughly 30%, or 1 trillion yen, of overall sales, Yanai stated.

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