Uniqlo, the Japanese retailer known for its basics, officially opened at The Bellevue Collection with a bang Friday morning. Literally. A tradition Taiko drumming performance rang through the mall just before 9:30 a.m. to celebrate the grand opening. A line of eager shoppers stretched from the South end of the mall to Center Court.

“We’re very proud to have Uniqlo be part of Bellevue Square,” Bellevue Collection owner Kemper Freeman said at the opening. “This is one of the greatest stores in the world today and this is their first flagship store in the Northwest.”

Located in the space previously used by JC Penney, the new store is the first Uniqlo location Northwest of San Francisco. Neatly folded sweaters, flannel shirts, and T’s in all the colors of the rainbow are folded from floor to ceiling. Think Gap-classic meets Forever 21-price. The store sells clothes for men, women, children, and babies.

“When I think of Uniqlo clothing, the words that come to my mind are innovation, elegance, timeless, family, quality. And those are the words I would use to describe the city of Bellevue,” Bellevue City Councilmember Lynne Robinson said at the opening. “This is a wonderful thing for our city. I’m very proud to welcome Uniqlo clothing to the city of Bellevue.”

Local fashion enthusiasts have been anticipating a Uniqlo in the area for years. When news broke that Bellevue would get a Uniqlo before Seattle, Westsiders had mixed feelings. Many wanted the store to open in Seattle proper. It could be that Uniqlo drives more Seattle shoppers to the Eastside.

On Nov. 5, Uniqlo hosted a VIP party at the new store with Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Jermaine Kearse with spoken-word performances by Hollis Wong-Wear. Both are a part of Uniqlo’s Seattle People campaign.

In the mood to shop? Head to Uniqlo if you’re in the market for flannel button downs, winter fleeces, puffy coats, wool coats, and sweaters. And if you know a youngster, the kids section is pretty adorable.

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