Cebu embraces Uniqlo’s lifewear

Local color sees print on graphic t-shirts

WHEN Uniqlo opened its doors to shoppers at SM City Cebu last month, little did anyone know that it would be one of the most-celebrated retail events in Cebu in recent memory.

FIRST BRANCH. After years of waiting, shoppers flock to Uniqlo’s first store in Cebu. The Japanese clothing retailer is planning 10 more branches in the next five years.
FIRST BRANCH. After years of waiting, shoppers flock to Uniqlo’s first store in Cebu. The Japanese clothing retailer is planning 10 more branches in the next five years.

Even days after the opening, patrons from diverse backgrounds continued to queue at the cashiers’ area, snapping up wearable items by the basketful.

Apparently, the Japanese clothing retailer’s brand of fashion appealed to Cebuanos, products that Uniqlo Philippines Chief Operating Officer Katsumi Kubota described as being “anchored on simplicity, quality and longevity.” Kubota summed it all up: “Uniqlo is lifewear.”

TEE SURPRISE. Iconic Filipino images like those of a food chain mascot and a classic brew are among the designs that catch the eye of Cebuano shoppers in Uniqlo’s first store in Cebu.
TEE SURPRISE. Iconic Filipino images like those of a food chain mascot and a classic brew are among the designs that catch the eye of Cebuano shoppers in Uniqlo’s first store in Cebu.

True enough, the racks and shelves housed inside the 1,000-square-meter store displayed value-for-money items with a subdued and relaxed cosmopolitan feel.

And then there’s the row of shirts with prints that are all too familiar but are the last designs you’d expect to see from an international retailer: iconic Filipino images like the jeepney and the sorbetes, as well as a food chain mascot and a classic brew, all homegrown and loved by Pinoys the world over.

LIFEWEAR. Uniqlo held a fashion show at the SM City North Wing as part of pre-opening activities last Oct. 21 to launch its first branch in Cebu.
LIFEWEAR. Uniqlo held a fashion show at the SM City North Wing as part of pre-opening activities last Oct. 21 to launch its first branch in Cebu.

It turns out that the graphic t-shirts bearing the designs are part of Uniqlo’s South East Asia Creators (SEAC) line, which features award-winning designers and design teams from the Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia.

From the Philippines, Uniqlo picked designs from graphic design studio TeamManila and from Dan Matutina. TeamManila, which carries an impressive portfolio of award-winning works from print and broadcast, is the brainchild of Jowee Alviar and Raymund Punzalan. Dan, an award-winning illustrator whose style can be described as a mix of handmade and digital, modern and retro, is also the founder of Plus63 Design Co.

The local color that Uniqlo’s SEAC line brings makes the brand even more endearing. Hopefully, designs from one of the world’s emerging design capitals, Cebu, will also see print on the brand’s graphic tees. (NSV)

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