Remember yesterday’s post, when I said I was done blogging about my trip to New York City?
Just one more post. It’s about shopping! I found a store in Manhattan that I really like. It’s called Uniqlo.
That’s their store on Broadway in SoHo. There are two more Manhattan locations, on 5th Avenue and near Herald Square, and those are the only three locations in all the United States.
I can’t remember where I first heard about Uniqlo. It might have been from my friend Paul, when he visited LA a few months ago and we hung out at the Getty Center. Uniqlo is one of the largest clothing retailers in Japan, and they’ve only recently begun expanding to other parts of the world. They’re known for ‘cheap-chic’ clothes – trendy, fashionable looks at very reasonable prices, kinda like H&M. They also have tons of basics, in tons of bright colors. In fact, most of Uniqlo (walls, shelving, etc.) is entirely white, which allows for very colorful displays.
There were a couple nifty design features in Uniqlo that made it a much more fun shopping experience than H&M, Gap, or other similar retailers. The Soho store has a huge dry cleaner rack loaded up with graphic tees that was slowly rotating just inside the front doors. On the second level (where the mens’ clothes were), every windowpane facing Broadway had a mannequin in it, and they were all slowly revolving in sync, like a row of dancers. The elevator is entirely made of glass (I didn’t ride it, I took the stairs).
I’ll be honest: I didn’t have high hopes for Uniqlo. It not like I walked in thinking it would be a complete bust, but I did manage my expectations. After striking out a few months ago at another foreign cheap-chic retailer, Zara (read about my experience here), my thinking was along the lines of: “It’d be cool to check out Uniqlo, but it may not be for me.” After all, Japanese people, generally speaking, are shorter and much slighter than I am, and if these clothes are designed with that shape in mind (i.e. narrow-shouldered, short-waisted, and not flattering if you carry any extra weight), than that won’t bode well for me.
Yes, yes, I just confessed to stereotyping an entire group of people. Forgive me. But before you dash off a comment expressing your anger/disappointment/disgust, let me remind you that statistically, the Japanese are a very slim group of people. Japan has a 3% obesity rate – that’s ten times lower than in the U.S.
It turns out Uniqlo has plenty of clothing that fits me just fine, and that looks good on me. What a pleasant surprise! And the prices were fantastic. Half-zip sweaters for $13. I bought one in Navy.
A lightweight zip-up hoodie for $20 – perfect for California weather. I bought it in charcoal.
And a bunch more stuff that I didn’t photograph: long-sleeve cotton tees for $6 (I’ve been looking for these, so I bought them in five colors). A pair of slightly distressed grey jeans for $50, and a second pair of cargo pants (also $50).
All in all, I left with a very full bag of clothes:
My purchases nearly covered my brother and sister-in-law’s futon entirely:
All in all, I picked up 10 items (there was a lot of Tetris-ing in order to fit them in my suitcase to come home), and spent around $180. Here’s hoping Uniqlo builds a Los Angeles location soon! They’ve already announced they’re coming to the West Coast, but their first store out here will be in San Francisco.
One final note, about Uniqlo sizes: all the tops that I bought were sized XXL, and the pants were size 38″. These are larger than other clothes I’ve bought in the past 6 months. My t-shirt drawer has items that range between XXL and L, and some of my pants are size 36″, depending on brand and cut.
I’ve done a whole series of posts about clothing sizes, and how, through weight loss, I’ve “shrunk” out of the enormous sizes I used to wear, like 4XL shirts and 56″ pants (you can read these posts by clicking on “My Incredible Shrinking Clothes” at the top of the page). Now that my weight loss has plateaued, I’m shrinking into smaller sizes much less frequently than I used to, and I’ve been working on transitioning to a place where sizes aren’t important. I think about something my sister Laura told me a few years ago that really stuck in my brain. It was something to the effect of:
“Ultimately, sizes don’t matter. You buy and wear clothes that you feel comfortable in and that make you look good, and what’s on the tag doesn’t mean anything. It varies so much from store to store and item to item, and with vanity sizing and other head games that the stores pull, there’s no consistency on sizing anyway.”
She’s right. I’ll confess that a year ago I would’ve been bummed if I had to purchase an XXL after buying only XLs for a while, but you know what? I don’t really care. These clothes look good on me, and I’ve worked too hard and come too far to let a few dumb letters on a dumb tag inside a dumb shirt negatively affect me!
Keep it up, David!