For Maria Uspenski and Don Grusin, Boulder to Denver wasn’t far to travel for Uniqlo’s downtown store opening.
“We are big Uniqlo fans,” Uspenski said. “We’ve shopped in Shanghai and Tokyo.”
“And Berlin and New York,” Grusin chimed in. “She introduced me to their socks and underwear.”
Japanese retailer Uniqlo opened its first Denver location Friday in the Pavilions. A line of about 500 eager shoppers stretched around the block outside of 500 16th St. Some came for the freebies, some came for the block party. Many had never been to a retail launch before.
Bailey Estevez, 29, came all the way from Colorado Springs and got in line around 6:30 a.m. Although Esteves was unfamiliar with the brand, her girlfriend was a long-time devotee.
“It’s outdoorsy, but trendy,” she said, as she waited to make a purchase with her hard-earned gift card — one of only 100 distributed.
Before Uniqlo, the closest Estevez had ever come to attending a store launch was waiting in a line for Black Friday shopping.
Uniqlo U.S.A. CEO Hiroshi Taki and Mark Sidell, president of Gart Properties, could be found flitting around the store. Sidell juggled an overstuffed shopping bag while he discussed his company’s decisions to rent the space previously occupied by Barnes and Noble to Uniqlo.
“Some people will compare it other fast fashion, like H&M, but the big difference with Uniqlo is the combination of value and exceptional pricing,” Sidell said. “And Denver has that intersection of appreciation for design and quality and [appreciation] for the outdoors.”
Sidell seemed confident that Denver will love Uniqlo, and it doesn’t hurt that the company partnered with four local brands, giving them space in the Pavilions shop. Feral Mountain Co., Denver Style, Elevation Cycles and Elixir each had their own small section, filled with lifestyle apparel and goods that looked right at home at Uniqlo.
Taki even prioritized Denver’s launch over a store opening in Washington DC — although he’s heading east later Friday.
Taki described the brand as “athleisure,” and said it fits very well with Denver culture.
“People here love outdoor sports and activities, and it will definitely fit in with city life as well,” he said.
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