Before Uniqlo there was Muji, an emporium of well-made Japanese utilitarian basics where I religiously stocked up on winter camisoles (until they tweaked the ones I loves and I defected to HeatTech). Over the years Muji’s clothing offer has been sidelined by the might of Uniqlo, but it’s fighting back with its New York super store.
In another life I think I’d love to have a store specialising in Japanese brands – fashion, homes, stationery – interspersed with books on Japanese lifestyle. Let’s just say we really do rate the Japanese aesthetic in London. New York has tapped into it too with its 12,000-odd square foot Muji flagship, just opened on 5th Avenue opposite the New York Public Library. According to WWD, it has everything from a Cafe Grumpy, to a make-your-own-home-fragrance scent station, to a Green Fingers plant store, to its ‘Found Muji’ section that showcases artisanal everyday product from other regions.
Fashion-wise, the store has the biggest clothing offer of all the U.S Muji stores, including organic knitwear, $200 wool coats, flannel shirts and down gilets (take that Uniqlo). I also like the sound of the travel section which sells New York travel books and luggage designed by Muji’s design guru Naoto Fukasawa. And on the subject of books, this store is the only one selling a selection of books on Japanese lifestyle, culture and design (sample title: Leonard Koren’s ‘Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers’).
I think it’s time we gave Muji a bit more love than just stockpiling the (admittedly amazing) acrylic storage drawers so beloved of beauty vloggers. I’m hoping we’ll get a taste of the rejuvenated Muji UK-side soon…
WORDS: Navaz Batliwalla/Disneyrollergirl