What’s retail doing in Berlin’s up-and-coming Steglitz area in 2018?
Here is a little update:
On the large and long shopping Street of Schloßstraße in the South of town, a remarkable little shop has opened up and is situated right next to Uniqlo.
The shop is called Miniso and when I first passed it, I had to do a double-take as I was sure it must be a Muji store, or was it a new establishment by Uniqlo? It’s very hard to tell at first glance as the logo, its colour and typeface is very similar to those famous Japanese Brands.
I stopped by this shop and looked inside. It looks very much like a Muji store with little items for personal care or the home. Below the logo it even states that this is a “Japanese Designer Brand.”
So what is this mystery store? Well, according to thelowdown the retail brand describes itself as:
“Established in Tokyo, MINISO, the Japanese fast fashion designer brand. MINISO pursues a “simple, natural and quality” life philosophy and a brand proposition.”
But other sources report that MINISO is founded by Chinese, run by Chinese, and headquartered in Guangzhou, China. It uses the name of a Japanese graduate Miyake Junya from the famous Bunka university in Tokyo as one of the founders, but reportedly this person is more a PR stunt it seems.
Miniso’s branding looks like a combination of Muji, Daiso and Uniqlo. From the goods they sell, to the design of their stores, even down to their logo, they have a very Uniqlo look to it. They started in 2013 and have been expanding aggressively and globally:
According to their own website, they have opened 2600 stores around the world within four years. By 2015, MINISO’s global revenue reached USD 750 million and is expected to grow to USD 1.5 billion by the end of 2016. In 2017, the sales volume of MINISO reached USD 1.8 billion.
And unlike pseudo-Japanese brand Superdry, Miniso is not shy to establish itself in the country which they emulate. It has shops in Japan and products even feature Japanese writing, as one would have seen on Muji labels. However it is said to be grammatically often incorrect because the brand uses a free online translation tool.
As I passed the store, I wondered how ethically correct it is to blatantly copy the successful competitors and even position the store in Berlin’s Steglitz right next to someone it is copying, namely Uniqlo.
Other remarkable things on Schloßstraße is the now defunct but trendy “Bierpinsel” tower which is rumored to soon house a restaurant or bar again. It reminded me of the Nakagin Capsule complex in Tokyo which I blogged about in the past.
Let me know your thoughts and in the meantime, greetings from Berlin!