Uniqlo’s Biggest Competition: Apple?

Uniqlo new fifth avenue store

Photo courtesy of Uniqlo

The triple escalator in Uniqlo's 5th Avenue store.

It’s a fast fashion clothing chain with stores all around the world. When we consider Uniqlo’s contemporaries, the likes of Zara and American Apparel come to mind. But inside the company, execs like to compare themselves to something else entirely.

“Our competitor is Apple,” Takao Kuwahara, chief executive of Uniqlo U.K., told the Wall Street Journal. “We don't see ourselves as having competitors in the fashion-retailing space.”

Come again? “At Apple, as at Uniqlo, the customer service and the customer experience is all important,” said Kawuhara. “People have limited time and money to buy things and they can choose where they shop.”

It’s true that both brands have embraced technology in a big way, and their respective retail spaces do have more than a few things in common. Plus, Kuwahara says, Uniqlo really has nothing to do with fashion. (Designer collaborations aside, we presume.)

“We are not the new Gap,” he said. “Here's why: we are not style-driven, we do not believe customers need advice on dressing themselves—they are smart enough to make their own choices. We are more focused on functionality and choice.... We do not advocate wearing a total ‘look.’ If you only want to buy a belt from us that's fine. So long as you come back!”

With new stores opening all the time and a revenue of over $10 billion (yep, billion), they must be doing something right…