MIDTOWN — Uniqlo's flagship store on Fifth Avenue is set to open Friday with bright, cashmere sweaters and jewel-toned down jackets stretching as far as the eye can see.
The giant space at the corner of West 53rd Street — the Japanese retailer's largest ever — offers 89,000 square feet of casual tops, jeans, coats and tech-inspired outerwear, as well as sweaters, sweaters and more sweaters, stacked to the ceiling on three floors.
Uniqlo USA Chief Operating Officer Yasunobu Kyogoku said the company has hired 1,300 new employees for its two new Midtown stores (a Herald Square location opens next week), 50 of whom traveled to Japan earlier this year to provide locals with a six month training program in the art of Japanese fast retailing "to turn them into Uniqlo DNA carriers," he said.
Among the learned touches: handing back credit cards with two hands, not one — a sign of respect in Japanese culture, he said.
Those who enter the store, which officially opens at noon on Friday, will find themselves in a high-tech, modernist space reminiscent of an Apple store.
A giant escalator across from the main doors whisks customers to the top floor, a former office space, which features a wide selection of "Japanese engineered denim" jeans, on sale for $9.90 in honor of the opening, as well as a "Heat Tech Tunnel," featuring the brand's thermal wear.
The store also includes an "innovation project" section, featuring clothing with futuristic touches, like a jacket with giant pockets, designed to fit bulky gloves and another with a tear-apart zipper designed to be ripped off Superman-style.
In addition to tailoring services, the store also runs a recycling program, where old clothes can be donated to refugee camps.
Kyogoku said that what's unique about the brand, which already has one location in SoHo, is the fact that it focuses on clean, simple designs that can be mixed and matched with both high-end and bargain brands.
"Our philosophy is 'made for all,' whether you're 16 or 60," he said.
Uniqlo's flagship store at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 53rd Street will officially open at noon on Friday, Oct. 14. Uniqlo's second Midtown location on West 34th Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues will open a week later, at noon on Oct. 21.