Uniqlo’s first face mask was launched in Japan last Friday. It was, as predicted, completely sold out
Uniqlo’s sold-out AIRism face mask. Screen grab: ANN News/YouTube
Given the state of fashion retail, it would be difficult for any brand to enjoy a 100% sell-through. Yet, Uniqlo was able to beat the odds when their debut face mask sold out (at some stores by noon) on the day of launch last Friday, in Japan. That the mask would be completely snapped up was predicted earlier in the week, but no one saw that online sales would crash Uniqlo’s website as it did. The company announced that “there is currently a problem with the connection to our online store due to a large number of accesses from customers.” The humble mask, made from what was initially created for use in undergarments, is this covetable.
According to AccuWeather, it rained when Uniqlo opened their doors that morning. But those in need of face masks were not deterred. Local news report showed long queues at popular branches, such as those in Shinjuku and Ginza. Our Tokyo source told us that he received text messages from friends urging him not to go as the queues were too long, and, at some stores, the masks were already sold out. The speed of sale could be borne out by the post of one Twitter user, カニちゃん (Crab). In the 45-second video clip, shoppers were seen running ahead of him to join a queue in the Uniqlo store in Mark IS, Yokohama. By the time he arrived at the line, easily a hundred shoppers were already in the queue.
The single-colour AIRism mask. Photo: Men’s Non-No
The Uniqlo mask is priced at ¥990 (or about S$13). Each pack contains three masks. They are available in three sizes: S, M, and L, and all only in white. Although touted as “cool and dry, smooth and breathable” and branded AIRism (a fabric associated with underclothes, and later performance wear, as well as fashion tops under the Uniqlo U sub-brand), many users noted (complained?) that the mask is rather “thick”. Japanese Netizens now consider it a “winter mask”. Uniqlo’s online literature states that what they offer is a three-ply mask, including a middle-layer filter that is supposed to be a barrier to bacteria and pollen. The mask also blocks UV rays. How popular the mask will truly be may only be known after the first wave of use. Uniqlo Japan has not said when stocks would be replenished.
Nor when they would be carrying the mask here. The Singapore office has not released an official statement. Uniqlo SG stores are presently still closed. If the Airism mask’s initial frantic demand in Japan is any indication, it will, similarly, see frenzied reception here and do exceedingly well. Expect shoppers running for them too.