When news broke that JCPenney at The Bellevue Collection was closing its doors in winter 2014, rumors flew discussing which retailers would take over the vacated space. For the past four months, The Collection has kept a zipped lip on what’s moving in, offering no elaboration other than “specialty retailers.”
On Monday, Uniqlo spilled the beans. The leading global Japanese retail company announced that it will be joining The Bellevue Collection, adding to its 39 stores across the U.S. The Bellevue location will be its first store northwest of San Francisco. Uniqlo will occupy the new expansion space previously used by JCPenney. The 13,000 square-foot store is scheduled to open this fall.
“We are honored to be selected as the site for their first retail location in our region,” The Bellevue Collection Vice President of Marketing Jennifer Leavitt said in a statement. “Uniqlo retail locations are still very limited in the U.S. but when looking for a location in our region, the company recognized that The Collection could deliver on the demographics, shopper traffic, and retail lifestyle setting to help them make an impressive first impression on the Greater Seattle area.”
There’s no doubt Kemper Development Company knew Uniqlo could deliver, too. Uniqlo is a brand of fast retailing, one of the largest apparel retail companies in the world. In 2014 its global sales were about $13.6 billion. The company is Japan’s leading specialty retailer and has six other main brands including Comptoir des Cotonniers, GU, Helmut Lang, J Brand, Princesse tam.tam, and Theory.
Uniqlo sells inexpensive, simple, and casual basics for women, men, kids, and babies. Think Gap-classic meets Forever-21-price. Or, as they like to put it, “clothing with innovation and real value, engineered to enhance your life every day.”
While many classify Uniqlo as a fast-fashion retailer, they’re not too keen on the designation. In 2013 Racked published an article reporting that Uniqlo was making large strides to distance itself from fast fashion by inventing its own concept, LifeWear. According to Racked, Uniqlo’s press release stated, “In LifeWear, nothing is left to chance and none of these garments should be seen as disposable ‘fast fashion’: Uniqlo’s clothing is made for life, in both senses of the word.” Whether you buy into their concept or not, LifeWear has been selling, big time.
Uniqlo opening a location in the Greater Seattle area is no shock to the local fashion community. For years, fans of the brand have speculated that it would move north and Bellevue is a sensible home for the company. In the last few years The Collection has added more designer stores than ever before.
Terri Morgan, director of TCM Models and Talent and producer of many of The Collection’s fashion shows, says the move has a lot to say about the growing fashion market.
“I am excited that a major retailer has chosen to open in our area, and is recognizing what a strong fashion market we have here,” Morgan says. “I love Uniqlo since I first saw them in New York many years ago, I think they will do well here.”