With the Japanese brand all set to come to Indian shores, opening the first of their three stores in Delhi in October, Cosmo caught up with Yukihiro Katsuta, Head of Research & Development, Uniqlo, to know about their rollout plans for India, what we can look forward to, and if brand ambassador Roger Federer will come visiting soon, too. Read on to find out…
Cosmo: Tell us about your plans for India…
Yukihiro Katsuta: Now that we are in India, the main aim is to achieve success here. There is no option...we have to succeed! We’ve put in all our energies and attention towards it, and now look forward to seeing the response…
C: Are there any special Uniqlo collaborations coming up for India?
YK: Not immediately, but we are open to the idea. If we can work on a project with like-minded Indian designers, who share our philosophy and sensibilities, it would be great to work together. For now, we’re just waiting to see how Uniqlo is received in India, and what the response is like, and then take things forward, accordingly. But yeah, why not.
C: So, what would you say is this philosophy?
YK: The main goal for us in India right now is to get appreciation from the Indian customers. We may make some mistakes in the beginning, but the key will be to learn from them, and make amends.That’s why we are so intent on listening to our customers’ voices, to have conversations with them. Our products have to be inspired by them, by their lives. We don’t want to push for any trends, or even follow any. Our approach is different: we believe in simple made better! We want to create pieces that will make our customers happy—that are made with such modern elegance, the pieces become the building blocks of their style. There will be challenges for us, but we don’t mind. It all depends on how fast we can react and adapt. After using our products, the customers should say, ‘Thank you Uniqlo, I need not one, but two, three, four of this’!”
C. What makes Uniqlo different from other brands?
YK: It would be that we don’t just follow trends. We try to design our products with the customers. Which means we study and research not trends, but our customer needs; we have interactions and conversations with them. This is how we innovate and innovate. And our products can last…sometimes up to ten years! So, it’s both quality and design.
C: What's the current Uniqlo collection like?
YK: We don’t our change our assortment—it is the same throughout the world. For F/W 19, our concept is ‘New form follows function’. We have introduced a lot of new silhouttes, shapes, and designs, that cross the boundaries of generation and gender. That’s what we’re bringing to India as well.
C: Tell us something about the famous UT (UNIQLO T-shirt) collection…
YK: For us at Uniqlo, it is like art—the T-shirt is a canvas, used to present exciting, moving content. These T-shirts, thus, express ideas—the graphics that you see on them aren’t there because they’re in fashion or are popular; they are actually telling a thought, a story. The collection covers pop culture across genres, such as music, manga, movies, anime, characters, as well as artwork of various artists, both legendary and contemporary. So, everyone can find something that matches their personality.
C: Roger Federer is the Uniqlo brand ambassador. What is he like to work with?
YK: My team sees him very often, almost every other month. He is very involved, and there are always some very constructive ideas exchanged. He tells us what he likes, what he doesn’t like. He is a great tennis player, a legend, but more than that, he’s an exceptional gentleman! Even when he stops playing in the future, he will still be great! And that’s what makes him so special, and the relationship we share with him, so strong.
C: You must bring him to India…
YK: (laughs) Here’s hoping!