Finally, I’ve got confirmation that those Uniqlo rumors are true: The Japanese fast-fashion retailer is moving into the Art Institute building (formerly Filene’s Basement) at 1608 Chestnut Street. It’s slated to open in late-spring, early-summer; my source tells me it’s most likely going to open around Memorial Day. I’ve got word that retail kings Michael Salove Company brokered the deal, and that Uniqlo is taking over the entire 40,000-square-foot, four-floor building. How much the company actually ends up retailing out of remains to be seen, but it will be a single-tenant, freestanding Uniqlo building. (Cheer!)
What does this means for Philly’s retail scene? It’s something I discussed during my panel on the future of Philly retail at this year’s ThinkFest. Most people view the mark of Philly retail success as having brands like Hermés, Chanel, Prada and Louis Vuitton planted firmly on Walnut Street. But we’re an eds-and-meds city, which means a lot of millenials—savvy shoppers who care less about labels and more about finding cool pieces that are either less expensive or from under-the-radar designers. See: the success of H&M on 15th and Chestnut, and Philly’s ever-growing hub of independent boutiques. A cool company like Uniqlo—with well-made, well-priced merch, and a terrific design concept—is something Chestnut needs, and a store that will be successful and further validate independent up-and-comers.
Multiple calls to listing broker MSC were unreturned, but look for the store around May. I, for one, am totally excited for the store’s perfect, low-priced basics. Hello, closet foundation!