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Mark the Date: Uniqlo Will Open First Vietnam Store in Saigon in 2019

No more going through seedy Facebook shops and waiting days for overseas orders.

If there’s something that Vietnamese urbanites love more than bubble tea, it’s fast-fashion. Since Spanish Zara and Swedish H&M landed in Vietnam, the companies have enjoyed healthy growth in the Southeast Asian country despite falling out of favor elsewhere in the world.

It’s not hard to understand why: fast-fashion is now an affordable staple of Vietnam’s growing middle class. The nation doesn’t lack well-heeled customers as luxury brands like Gucci, Ermenegildo Zegna and Ralph Lauren have been here since the late-2000s. But the local middle-income yuppie population has really been flourishing in the last five years or so.

Exactly a year ago, when H&M opened its first outlet in Saigon, some 4,000 fans lined up before the shop’s opening time at 11am. By 9pm the same day, the entrance of Vincom Dong Khoi’s H&M had already welcomed 10,000 patrons, prompting store managers to extend the opening time until midnight. Within a year, H&M has already established five stores in Saigon and Hanoi while Zara only has two.

Uniqlo executives must have taken notice of this extremely positive reception among local fans, as the Japanese brand has officially announced its plan to launch in Vietnam next year. According to Nikkei Asian Review, Uniqlo said yesterday that it would open the first Vietnam outlet in Saigon in fall 2019. Mark the date!

"The Southeast Asia region has been an important driver of growth for us, and we are pleased and optimistic about our opportunity to be a part of such an exciting economy and retail market," Chairman and CEO of Uniqlo’s parent company Fast Retailing Tadashi Yanai told Nikkei in an interview. "We look forward to introducing Uniqlo and our high quality, affordable LifeWear apparel in Vietnam.”

The Vietnam branch of Uniqlo will operate as a joint venture between Fast Retailing and Mitsubishi Corporation, who will respectively own 75% and 25% of the company. Rumors of Uniqlo’s Vietnam expansion started brewing in June last year after news broke that the company was looking for employees in the local job market. However, Nikkei shared recently that the brand will only start recruiting store personnel in the near future.

Uniqlo’s arrival in Vietnam signifies the brand’s effort to double the population of its shops in Southeast Asia and Oceania to about 400 by 2022. Most recently, Uniqlo opened the first outlet in Sweden on August 24, going head-to-head with H&M on the latter’s home turf.

[Photo via Wall Street Journal]

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