There is a lot of buzz around the expansion of the Japanese-based clothing store, UNIQLO, to San Francisco on October 5, but the buzz seems to sidestep what I think really makes UNIQLO unique: its CSR programs. Among this company’s many programs, I was particularly drawn to its clothing recycling initiative and its partnership with Grameen Bank – both of which address the issue of global poverty (see the videos below to learn more!)
I don’t usually follow fashion trends, but this news caught my attention because I had a grand time shopping at the UNIQLO store when I was in New York over spring break. Throughout the year, I’ve been learning more about the brand’s Japanese origins or clothing technology through random news articles I stumble upon. But, I never would have known about its CSR programs if I did not linger on the home page of its company website long enough for the feature on “UNIQLO recycling” to pop out. It was a big surprise for me to find out that this company is not just fusing Japanese and American culture, but it is reaching out to countries such as Bangledsh as well (although not in the same way – and I can talk about that another time).
Seeing this surprise at the very end of the photo reel had me wondering why they don’t flaunt their strong CSR program the way Toms’ one-for-one campaign does. Has CSR become too cliche’ for brands that aim to stand out? And does this cliche’ status mean that less companies will be interested in CSR, or that this trend has become so ubiquitous that it is now a norm rather than a novelty?