Samui Wining & Dining
Samui welcomes the iconic Japanese brand, Uniqlo, to the island.


People on Samui have long battled the pros and cons of living on an island. While the benefits are obvious to visitors – sunshine, stunning beaches and a relaxed lifestyle – the disadvantages are perhaps less obvious. While visitors can leave and do their shopping back home, until recently, Samui dwellers had little option when it came to clothes shopping. It was always a case of the two extremes – either mass-produced brand copies from the market stalls, or from the highend local fashion designers. While Samui has some fabulous local designers, their garments are not always suitable for everyday wear, but more likely something for a special occasion.

        So that meant a trip to Bangkok or Phuket every so often to top up the wardrobe, as contrary to what visitors may think, we don’t all wear bikinis and flip-flops every day!

        Well thankfully Central Festival Samui opened its doors at the end of March 2014, and a key tenant is the popular brand, Uniqlo. We chatted to the company’s Thai marketing arm to find out a little more about this iconic Japanese label.

         Uniqlo is a play on words fusing ‘unique’ and ‘clothing’, and the label is a leading global Japanese apparel brand renowned for the uniqueness of its garments. The original Uniqlo philosophy was ‘made for all’ which means that clothes are accessible and affordable. And this year, the ‘made for all’ concept has been extended to encompass ‘Life Wear’.

          Uniqlo believes that clothing is one of the four necessities of life, along with food, shelter, and medicine. (OK, I should probably add Wi-Fi in that list somewhere too – right?) ‘Life Wear’ represents clothes that are also uniquely fashionable – yet Life Wear is not fast fashion. Instead, Uniqlo apparel is made for all lifestyles that go beyond age, gender, occupation and ethnicity. Rather, their customers are independent, and the garments are not based on trend-like fast fashion, but provide real functionality. Uniqlo operates an integrated business model under which it designs, manufactures, markets and sells high-quality, casual apparel. The company believes that truly great clothes should be supremely comfortable, feature universal designs, be of a high quality and offer a superb fit to everyone who wears them.

          So where did this successful brand start? Uniqlo originated in Hiroshima, Japan in 1984, starting from the men’s shop, ‘Ogori Shoji’ which was originally founded in Ube City, in the Yamaguchi region of Japan, in 1949. The company operated under Fast Retailing Co. Ltd., a leading global Japanese retail holding company that designs, manufactures and sells clothing with seven main brands, including Comptoir des Cotonniers, GU, Helmut Lang, J Brand, and Princesse Tam Tam. Fast Retailing is the world’s fourth largest apparel retail company, and Uniqlo is Japan’s leading specialty retailer.

          The first Uniqlo branch in Thailand was opened in September 2011, on the 3rd floor of Central World in Bangkok – also part of the Central group that has brought Central Festival to Samui. Uniqlo’s Samui store, launched in March 2014, is the 18th store in Thailand, and was opened to respond to a vibrant local island customer base, as well as local and international tourists.

          While classic basics form the core of the stock, new ranges are frequently being introduced to the shelves, so it’s worthwhile popping your head in to Uniqlo whenever you’re at Central Festival to see what’s new. Worthy of a mention is the ‘AIRism’ range of innerwear, where comfort and functionality are keys. The range includes a variety of vests and tees for both men and women, and garments are made with a unique high-tech fabric that boasts special features. Firstly, there’s greater stretchiness, which allows the garment to hug and move with the body, without feeling tight. It also quickly wicks away perspiration, and also eliminates odours with its antibacterial qualities. The fabric breathes easily,

          keeping the wearer comfortable and dry, and is so smooth, you’ll forget you’re wearing it.

          So with great innerwear, a wide range of wardrobe basics, as well as eye-catching pieces to complement them, it’s no wonder Uniqlo is popular worldwide, and a welcome addition to the Samui clothing scene.

          Fitness and healthy eating, both easily achieved at Absolute Sanctuary.


 Rosanne Turner


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