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Gen Z women flock to Uniqlo as back-to-office mandates force them to merge work and evening wear

Gen Z women flock to Uniqlo as back-to-office mandates force them to merge work and evening wear


Growing return-to-office mandates have forced workers to make new adjustments to their lives, dictating where they live, their hygiene habits and, increasingly, the clothing they choose to purchase.

Uniqlo is now taking advantage of changing consumer behaviors to become the latest trendy clothing brand among young shoppers.

Alessandro Dudech, the British boss of Uniqlo, said PA news agency that shoppers under 29 accounted for 35% of the group's sales last year, a sharp increase from the cohorts' 16% share in 2019. It was the first year that women's clothing sales exceeded those of men.

The retailer likely owes a mix of TikTok virality and the return to office work for its newfound relevance and booming sales among a Gen Z audience.

The TikTok craze

Japanese company Uniqlo saw a sharp increase in sales in Europe thanks to the presentation of its products on TikTok.

The retailer saw its European revenue jump 36% to US$1.3 billion ($1.4 billion). Last yearand it attributed the increase to viral posts from some of its brands.

Influencers on TikTok have praised items like the fanny pack for their versatility, garnering millions of views and effectively free advertising for Uniqlo. This trend has not gone unnoticed by the company.

There was also a significant increase among younger customers who embraced items like the mini round crossbody bag, bra top and pleated pants that went viral this summer, Uniqlo wrote in its annual report .

Dudech told the PA news agency: Obviously we are connecting more with younger customers.

But I think it’s also because the value Gen Z places on clothes is changing; they are increasingly demanding about the quality of their clothing and are looking for versatile pieces.

Dress smartly

But Uniqlo could also have back-to-office mandates thanks to booming sales, with Dudech saying shoppers were looking for items they could wear to the office or out on a night out.

The rush to purchase clothing suitable for both the office and later the bar marks a dramatic and ongoing shift in shoppers' purchasing habits, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Shoppers rushed to buy casual wear like sweatpants amid lockdowns and, in recent years, have been able to erect a strong barrier between their personal and professional lives.

But those trends are reversing, in part as companies ask employees to return to the office and employers remove remote job offers.

Data from LinkedIn showed that remote job postings in the UK fell by 13% in the 12 months to February. Registrations fell further in Ireland, Germany and France. This is despite the fact that the number of candidates for remote jobs remains stable.

Data from British telecommunications company Ringover showed that at large U.S. companies, days in the office increased from an average of 1.1 days in 2021 to 3.4 days in 2023.

If the Uniqlos UK boss is to be believed, the group now appears to have succeeded in getting its employees to start buying clothes again that might be considered acceptable in the office as well as at post-work drinks.

Uniqlos is one of the latest trends identified by major retailers who share insights into how consumer behavior is shaped by where they work.

Announcing its results last October, Unilevers' chief financial officer attributed much of the group's 8% growth in its personal care segment to shoppers returning to work (and therefore hygiene-conscious) rushing. to buy deodorant.

People weren't using deodorant as much when they were in lockdown or working from home, etc. I think we are seeing some recovery, said Unilever CFO Graeme Pitkethly.




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