Will showrooms work for fast fashion?
Visitors to a new clothing store by the owners of Uniqlo can “just walk out” after their visit — but they can’t take any of their purchases with them.
The store, called the GU Style Studio, opened in late November in Tokyo’s fashion district. Visitors to the store can try on and try out an assortment of clothing, bags and shoes, but the store holds no inventory. Items on-hand are only available to demo and order online for later delivery. While the company hasn’t decided if it will extend the technology to its other brands, it does recognize the possibility of rolling out the technology to open smaller shops in urban environments, including Uniqlo shops.
An article on PSFK clarifies that the buying process is QR code-based. Visitors scan price tags with their smartphones and are taken to corresponding ordering links.
The GU Style Studio also features a piece of technology called the GU Style Creator Stand. It consists of a touch screen which, according to a press release from the parent company Fast Retailing, allows visitors to take a picture of themselves which is then turned into a digital avatar. They can then “try on” clothing items on-screen. The Stand integrates with a smartphone app, so that customers can further experiment with virtual try-ons on the device, as well as save and order styles they like via mobile.
The GU banner currently has 393 stores throughout Asia, mainly in Japan, according to the parent company Fast Retailing’s website.
Showrooms have been growing in popularity, with once online-only retailers like Warby Parker, Bonobos and Casper opening delivery-only outlets for their products.
The trend has also emerged in luxury apparel. Nordstrom notably opened its first inventory-free showroom in West Hollywood at the end of 2017. Since then, Nordstrom has expanded the concept with two even smaller showrooms elsewhere in California. Unlike the GU Style Studio, though, the Nordstrom showroom allows for BOPIS, curbside pickup and delivery from adjacent stores to the showroom.
- GU – FastRetailing
- GU’s Next-Generation Store “GU STYLE STUDIO” Opens Friday, November 30 in Harajuku – New, Unique Fashion Experience through Innovative GU STYLE STUDIO, Digital Signage and App – FastRetailing
- The Harajuku Store That Won’t Let You Bring Clothes Home – Bloomberg
- Fast Retailing Co’s Digitally Enabled Store Ships Merch To Shoppers’ Homes Only – PSFK
- Digitally-native brands are opening more physical locations – Digital Commerce 360
- Nordstrom opening more local stores without inventory – RetailWire
- Nordstrom tries a no merchandise store – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Does a full showroom concept with no option to buy in-store make more sense in fast fashion apparel vs. other fashion segments? Would it make sense or a basics store like Uniqlo as well?