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Are fashion retailers creative? Evidence from Uniqlo, Asia’s leading fashion brand

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>31/10/2016
<mark>Journal</mark>The Journal of International Public Policy
Number of pages22
Pages (from-to)1-22
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This paper examines creativity in the fashion industry based on the case of Asia's leading fashion brand, Uniqlo. It uses the theoretical framework of Richard Caves's seven economic properties to explore the assumption that fashion retailers are creative. Caves's theory discusses the relationships among various types of employees, including creators within companies, products, production, and promotion. This paper uses Uniqlo to discuss creative elements based on an examination of the company's business practices. It mainly explores Caves' three economic properties: nobody knows, A list/B list, and time flies. Through the investigation on Uniqlo's manufacturing, strategic collaboration, and merchandising, the paper argues that the elements of creativeness in Uniqlo are less apparent than the uncreative or humdrum activities. Uniqlo invests in creating additional values in the products and strategic alliances to avoid the uncertainties of hit products (nobody knows). It pays less attention to vertical and horizontal ranking of the designers (A list/B list) and more to their potential for financial outcome. Uniqlo utilizes its supply chain management and advanced technology to increase merchandising efficiency and avoid the uncertainty in time (time flies). Contrary to the conventional idea of the fashion industry as creative, this paper suggests that some companies have fewer elements of creativeness. Thus suggests that it is necessary to conduct research on both creative and uncreative elements in order to understand the fashion industry and creativeness in a more constructive way.