Uniqlo is reinforcing efforts to extend the life of its clothing line by rolling out four new in-store repair studios around the US.
Called Re.Uniqlo, the repair stations are on sales floors in the New York Fifth Avenue flagship, Beverly Center in Los Angeles, Chicago’s State Street, and Disney Springs in Florida. The SoHo repair studio which opened in February 2022 will be expanded.
Each repair costs $5. Available services include re-sewing split seams, sewing on buttons, patching/stitching holes in knitted garments like sweaters, taping or stitching a hole or tear in down products, and stitching/patching a hole or tear in denim and jeans. Repairs are executed by Uniqlo‘s alterations staff in-store, and custom repairs will be done upon request by individual customers.
According to Jean Shein, Uniqlo global director of sustainability, the U.S. expansion comes in direct response to the success of the repair studio in the SoHo store.
“We have received positive customer feedback—including customers who have shopped the SoHo store since its opening in 2006 to newer customers engaging with the brand for the first time,” he said.
Repairs of the Ultra Light Down jacket are the most common request, Shein said.
Shein said the repair studios have generated customer interest in more custom designs and that they will consider unrolling such a service in the future. To that possible end, Uniqlo is training staff on Sashiko embroidery machines to customize looks.
Sashiko is a traditional form of stitching that dates to the Japanese Edo period (1603-1868) when poverty dictated that no piece of fabric go to waste. Mimicking motifs found in nature, the small, straight stitches were devised to preserve textiles for wear and use in the home, and were often white on an indigo background.
Uniqlo introduced Sashiko at Fifth Avenue store with events featuring upcycled vintage kimono patches by two Japanese designers and New York-inspired iron-on patches by designer and upcycler Simon Goldman.
Sashiko’s roots in frugality are also the basis of Uniqlo clothing, called LifeWear, to reflect Japanese values of quality, longevity and practicality. The Fast Retailing-owned company has long invested in the circular future of the line through recycling, specifically by donating to disaster relief sites and local communities in addition to refugee causes around the globe.
To date, Uniqlo has donated $10 million worth of clothing to Ukraine and set up a popup store in Poland to benefit Ukrainian refugees. A program in Bangladesh is teaching workers to sew.
Uniqlo customers in the U.S. can donate used but still wearable items in-store to be donated around the world. Unwearable garments are recycled into raw materials or materials for new products like the Recycled Down Jacket. The Fifth Avenue store also offers unique re-made pieces upcycled from pre-owned donated garments.
The four new U.S. repair studios bring the worldwide total to 17 spread over 10 countries. The first repair studio was opened in Berlin in 2021 as part of the All Product Recycling Initiative. Renamed Re.Uniqlo, a second repair atelier was opened in London’s Regent Street store later that year.