Uniqlo, which made headlines last week by announcing that it has enlisted design darling Jonathan Anderson for a collab, has a message for President Trump: It will leave. The popular Japanese fashion chain has announced that if Trump stays true to his word regarding implementing tariffs not non-American-made goods, it very well may abandon its U.S. retail network altogether. Tadashi Yanai, the billionaire head of Fast Retailing Co. (parent to Uniqlo), told Japanese paper Asahi Shimbun this past week of the push to manufacture in the U.S., "If I was directly told to do so, I will withdraw from the United States.”
According to Yanai, whose company manufactures all of its apparel abroad, primarily in Asia, because any additional costs that would be passed on to consumers as a result of Trump’s proposed border tax plan, it would be "meaningless to do business in the United States."
Moreover, he cited a lack of specialized labor in the U.S. as another barrier to successful domestic garment production. "We would not be able to make really good products [in the U.S.] at costs that are beneficial to customers," Yanai said in the Japanese news report. "Anyone will think that it is an open-and-shut and impossible situation.
While Uniqlo currently only maintains 51 stores in the U.S., Yanai said the company plans to open at least 20 more this year alone. Also in the works for Uniqlo: Even faster fashion. Its parent company, Fast Retailing Co. is betting that speed in supplying its stores with the latest fashion will allow it to overtake apparel powerhouse Zara.
Per Bloomberg, “Fast Retailing plans to shorten the time it takes from design to delivery to about 13 days, roughly the same as Zara, owned by the world’s biggest clothes retailer Inditex SA, Uniqlo’s billionaire owner said in a recent interview … The new complex will also help Uniqlo expand direct-to-consumer, custom-clothing sales and improve the efficiency of its same-day delivery in the Tokyo area, he said.”
Yanai further noted, comparing his company to rival Zara: "Zara sells fashion rather than catering to customers’ needs. We will sell products that are rooted in people’s day-to-day lives, and we do so based on what we hear from customers."