Sometime in 1997, CIA Tokyo was approached by one of the executives of Unique Clothing Warehouse, a regional retailer mostly found outside Tokyo. The store sold known sports brands at discounted prices. CIA’s founder and senior managing partner, Sy and Shogo, introduced the idea of transforming the discount store into a specialty private apparel brand like Gap to its president and owner, Mr. Tadashi Yanai.
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The CIA team quickly embarked on the task of making Unique Clothing Warehouse into an international retail brand that designs, produces and sells its own merchandise. Sy and Shogo formed a team of Japanese and American strategists and fashion merchandising experts to develop a new long-term corporate and brand strategy. The merchandising professionals from the United States identified what would be the company’s core product lines and centered on a new target market – Japan’s young generation. The CIA team developed a new store layout and design.
To capture the new brand strategy, CIA shortened Unique Clothing Warehouse into “Uniqlo” and created a new logo. CIA also designed the store exteriors, interiors, merchandising display and overall store layout.
CIA partnered with the renowned advertising firm, Wieden & Kennedy, to broadcast Uniqlo’s new image and product offers, under a new tagline “It’s Your Style”.
The new brand and store concepts were finally launched in Harajuku, the fashion mecca of Tokyo, in 1999.
We all know what happened next.
Today, some of these original store designs, featuring the CIA-developed logo, tagline and architecture, are still found around Tokyo, to serve as a nostalgic reminder of the brand’s relaunch and ascent into global prestige.