Photography by Andrew Williamson

Uniqlo’s New Pop-up Gallery has Almost 1,000 Graphic Tees

Graphic tees are the ultimate tools for self-expression. They’re not just wardrobe staples, they’re a way for you to show the world what’s important to you. That’s why UNIQLO has an entire sub-brand dedicated to the “Wear your world” philosophy. It’s called UT, and starting today, a pop-up is opening in Toronto with almost 1,000 graphic tees on display. The three-storey exhibit at 202 Queen Street West is filled with tees from the brand’s 2018 Spring-Summer Collection and the space reads like a nostalgia-inducing art gallery.

Pop culture is very important to Rei Matsunuma, brand director of UT. It’s the key to making a graphic tee that will transcend the test of time. He chooses his references carefully. “We’re a Japanese company, so we want to introduce Japanese culture,” he says, citing brands like Nintendo. “But we want to express other cultures as well.”

Sometimes they like to mix the two together. Matsunuma gives the example of UT‘s Mickey & the Sun collection. “There’s a very specific type of blue that’s traditional in Japan,” he says. They incorporated this blue shade into the Disney tees, combining cultures to make a product that appeals to people from a variety of backgrounds. Matsunuma explains that when UT features big brands like Disney in their collections, they don’t simply follow the license guide, like most companies tend to do, “We want to come up with something new.”

The pop-up exhibit is open from 12:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. up until this Friday and then 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday. The gallery displays tees celebrating power house companies like Marvel and LEGO, alongside classic advertisements for products like the Rubik’s Cube and Chupa Chups. “Think of it as like a book store or a record store,” Matsunuma says of the space. “Any customer that goes in can find anything they want.”

Photography by Andrew Williamson

In fact, the space does kind of feel like a record store. On the second floor there are bright red units containing hundreds of t-shirts. Each one is wrapped inside square plastic cases and visitors can flip through them with the help of tabs labeled anything from “My Little Pony” to “American Movies: Back to the ’80s”.

For UNIQLO, a company that’s still new on the scene in Canada, this pop-up is the perfect chance to really show Canadians what they’re all about. “I’m Japanese, so being able to share that culture with the Toronto customer is an honour,” says Matsunuma. “I hope that when people leave the pop-up, they’re glad UNIQLO came to Toronto.”

You can find UT at the Eaton Centre and the Yorkdale Shopping Centre.



More Style