Sunday, May 19, 2024

I shopped at Uniqlo’s sister store GU to see why Gen Z loves the brand. I was surprised to find some pieces I liked.

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I went shopping at GU to see why it’s become popular among Gen Zers.

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

GU is a fast-fashion brand targeting Gen Z with stylish, affordable clothing.
The brand’s first store opened in New York City last fall. 
I visited the store and found some of the trendier pieces, like cargo pants, quite approachable.

GU is one of the latest cool-kid brands, carrying the trendy cargo pants and cropped tops beloved by Gen Z. 

GU is a sister brand to Uniqlo, a fast-fashion company that’s become popular in the US for its dressy-casual basics like tees and slacks. Most recently, Uniqlo’s mini shoulder bag went viral on TikTok and was named the hottest product of the year so far. Japanese retailer Fast Retailing Group owns both companies.

GU has grown to nearly 450 stores in Asia but didn’t enter the US market until it opened its Soho store in October 2022. From September 2021 to August 2022, GU’s sales totaled $1.7 billion which made up about 11% of Fast Retailing’s revenue, Retail Dive reported.

Much like Uniqlo, GU carries basics like logo-free t-shirts, simple sweaters, minimalist shoes, and dress pants. However, GU’s prices are slightly cheaper than Uniqlo’s. For example, a men’s open-collar shirt costs $19.90 at GU, while a similar style goes for $29.90 at Uniqlo.

GU’s Soho location is the only store in the US and right now the only way US customers can shop the brand. I wanted to check it out for myself, so I visited to see why it’s become popular among Gen Zers. 

The GU store is located at 579 Broadway in Soho.

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

GU’s tagline is “Tokyo to Soho,” so it makes sense that the brand would place its first store in Manhattan’s trendiest, shopping-centric neighborhood. 

The storefront featured two windows on either side of the door.

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

The displays were simple. Two mannequins displayed some of the latest products for fall.

I was immediately greeted by an employee who was stationed at the front of the store.

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

The store seemed pretty well-staffed. I noticed at least four employees out on the floor, which from my experience working in retail, is normal for the size of the store. 

On the left was the women’s section

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

The newer styles were displayed at the front of the store.

And the men’s section was to the right.

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

These men’s grandpa sweaters were $39.90 and made from a nylon-polyester blend. 

Some of the latest fall fashions were displayed on mannequins between the two sections.

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

The fashions were simple — most styles were in solid colors and pieces were layered together. 

I spotted women’s cargo pants in three different colors.

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

They looked like the pants I’ve seen on teens around the streets of New York this summer. 

Then there was a rack of women’s cargo pants on sale.

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

I assumed they were from the summer season because they came in a lightweight white denim, as well as light- and dark-wash denim.

There were several pairs of jeans and cargo pants for men.

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

The men’s denim came in light and dark washes, as well as light and dark grays. They were priced at $39.90 per pair. 

I also found GU’s chef pants, which are a loose, straight tapered style inspired by the pants chefs wear.

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

The chef pants style has become popular on TikTok, perhaps thanks to the success of Hulu’s hit show “The Bear.”

The middle of the store featured a rainbow wall of socks that led to the dressing rooms.

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

Socks came in ankle and crew lengths. The store also carried dress shoes and sneakers for $39.90.  

Before I got to the dressing room, I walked into a section with more women’s clothing.

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

There were sports bras for $19.90 and leggings for $29.90. 

There were also several sale racks leading to the dressing rooms.

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

Most of the clothing in the sale section were women’s styles. 

An employee asked me to take five pieces at a time and pointed me to an open dressing room.

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

There were several shoppers in the store, but the dressing rooms weren’t too busy. I was able to get into a room right away. 

Inside, the dressing room was well-lit and spacious enough to change comfortably.

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

The mirror was a little dirty and I wished it was wider. 

To start off, I chose two faux leather shirts, a pair of slacks, cargo pants, and a two-piece sweater.

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

There were plenty of hooks to hang my clothes. As I try clothes on, I like to organize everything by what I still have to try, what I liked, and what I didn’t like. 

First, I tried on the white denim cargo pants.

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

I haven’t been into the cargo pant trend but I was surprised by how much I liked these. The slightly baggy style made them really comfortable, but they also weren’t so oversized that they overwhelmed my frame. I could also see them dressed down for weekends and dressed up with a blazer or sweater for work. 

Next, I tried the tucked wide pants and a layered two-piece sweater.

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

The tucked wide pants were $29.90 and the layered sweater was $39.90.

I was not a fan of the sweater. While I could see the design they were going for, it looked awkward on me. Perhaps my arms weren’t long enough, but the sleeves were severely bunchy. 

I really liked how the pants looked in the front, but when I turned around, the fabric bunched in the wrong places around my butt. 

I noticed there are some significant fit differences between pant styles at GU.

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

These slacks were a size small, but the white cargos were a medium, yet both fit me well.

I quickly learned that the best way to find the right fit is to look at the tag. In fine print next to the letter size is a waist measurement. Both of these pants had a 26 inch waist, despite being a whole size apart. 

Next, I tried a faux leather button-down shirt.

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

I really liked the olive color of this shirt, but the fit was a little weird for me. It’s supposed to be oversized, but the sleeves were just an inch too long and bellowed at the wrist. I appreciated the concept — I could see it in the pages of a fashion magazine. But the fit didn’t suit me and I couldn’t justify spending $39.90 on it.

I also tried the same shirt in black, but it felt like something I could find in a lot of other stores. 

Next, I tried a pleated mini-skirt and a ruched pinstripe dress.

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

I actually liked the mini-skirt more than I expected. I was grateful for the shorts attached inside — there’s no way I could wear a skirt that short in New York City without worrying about train station breeze. 

But ultimately, I decided the school-girl look is just not my style as a now 30-year-old. I’ll leave the super-short skirts in my twenties. 

The dress was also a cute design, but the shape was too boxy. The waist floated around my actual waistline, and the neckline hovered above my chest. 

I tried on a high-neck cropped shirt I found in the sale section for $4.90

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

GU calls the shirt a “bra-feel” t-shirt because it has padding inside. I was surprised to see what was essentially an entire bra attached to the front interior — much more support than I expected. I liked the top, but the bra was too tight in a size small, so I decided to look for a medium. 

The white cargo pants inspired me to go back and grab more cargos to try on.

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

There were two different cargos towards the front of the store. There was a parachute cargo pant on sale for $29.90 and a “pull-on” cargo pant priced at $39.90. Both were baggy and oversized, so it was a little tricky to tell the difference. 

I also grabbed another pair of the white cargo pants, but in the light-wash denim, and headed back to the dressing rooms.

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

I was curious to see how all the styles and fits compared. Instead of paying attention to the letter size, I grabbed the sizes with 26-inch waists. I ended up with mediums in the pull-on and denim cargos and smalls in the parachute pants. 

I didn’t hate the baggy cargos, but wasn’t sure they were my style.

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

With a fitted top, the cargo pants kind of looked cool. But as much as I’ve been embracing more wide-leg pant styles, I wasn’t sold on the cargo look. 

Next, I tried the parachute pants. I liked them best in black.

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

Again, I was surprised that these cargos didn’t look awful on me. And I liked that in black, the fabric almost looked like a wide-leg dress pant. But ultimately, I decided to hold off on buying a pair. I’m not sure the pants are suited for my personal style, and I’m not one to conform to a trend just because everyone else is wearing it. 

I didn’t like the denim cargo pants — the acid wash evoked a costume interpretation of parachute pants from the ’80s. 

I headed to the register to purchase the white cargo pants and lime green bra top.

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

There wasn’t a line, so I went right up to the register. The employee was so quick at ringing me up, I was still pulling out my credit card by the time they had everything in the bag. My total came to $34.80, plus 10 cents for the paper bag. 

 

GU successfully converted me from cargo-skeptic to cargo-tolerant.

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

I had written off cargos as a trend only for Gen Z, but I don’t totally hate them. The super baggy style isn’t for me, but I can understand the overall appeal of cargos.  They’re comfortable pants and have a cool street-style vibe. 

After my store visit, I could see why GU is becoming popular. It’s a one-stop-shop for basics like tees, jeans, sweatpants, and sweaters, but also offers some trendy pieces at affordable prices. 

That said, I did notice some ill-fitting styles and lower-quality fabrics at GU, which is to be expected for a fast-fashion company. While large brands like Shein, H&M, Zara, and Forever 21 are typically the ones called to question for unethical labor practices and overproduction which contributes to landfill waste, these issues are widespread throughout the industry. 

Read the original article on Business Insider
Avatar

Read more

Share

I went shopping at GU to see why it’s become popular among Gen Zers.

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

GU is a fast-fashion brand targeting Gen Z with stylish, affordable clothing.
The brand’s first store opened in New York City last fall. 
I visited the store and found some of the trendier pieces, like cargo pants, quite approachable.

GU is one of the latest cool-kid brands, carrying the trendy cargo pants and cropped tops beloved by Gen Z. 

GU is a sister brand to Uniqlo, a fast-fashion company that’s become popular in the US for its dressy-casual basics like tees and slacks. Most recently, Uniqlo’s mini shoulder bag went viral on TikTok and was named the hottest product of the year so far. Japanese retailer Fast Retailing Group owns both companies.

GU has grown to nearly 450 stores in Asia but didn’t enter the US market until it opened its Soho store in October 2022. From September 2021 to August 2022, GU’s sales totaled $1.7 billion which made up about 11% of Fast Retailing’s revenue, Retail Dive reported.

Much like Uniqlo, GU carries basics like logo-free t-shirts, simple sweaters, minimalist shoes, and dress pants. However, GU’s prices are slightly cheaper than Uniqlo’s. For example, a men’s open-collar shirt costs $19.90 at GU, while a similar style goes for $29.90 at Uniqlo.

GU’s Soho location is the only store in the US and right now the only way US customers can shop the brand. I wanted to check it out for myself, so I visited to see why it’s become popular among Gen Zers. 

The GU store is located at 579 Broadway in Soho.

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

GU’s tagline is “Tokyo to Soho,” so it makes sense that the brand would place its first store in Manhattan’s trendiest, shopping-centric neighborhood. 

The storefront featured two windows on either side of the door.

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

The displays were simple. Two mannequins displayed some of the latest products for fall.

I was immediately greeted by an employee who was stationed at the front of the store.

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

The store seemed pretty well-staffed. I noticed at least four employees out on the floor, which from my experience working in retail, is normal for the size of the store. 

On the left was the women’s section

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

The newer styles were displayed at the front of the store.

And the men’s section was to the right.

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

These men’s grandpa sweaters were $39.90 and made from a nylon-polyester blend. 

Some of the latest fall fashions were displayed on mannequins between the two sections.

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

The fashions were simple — most styles were in solid colors and pieces were layered together. 

I spotted women’s cargo pants in three different colors.

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

They looked like the pants I’ve seen on teens around the streets of New York this summer. 

Then there was a rack of women’s cargo pants on sale.

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

I assumed they were from the summer season because they came in a lightweight white denim, as well as light- and dark-wash denim.

There were several pairs of jeans and cargo pants for men.

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

The men’s denim came in light and dark washes, as well as light and dark grays. They were priced at $39.90 per pair. 

I also found GU’s chef pants, which are a loose, straight tapered style inspired by the pants chefs wear.

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

The chef pants style has become popular on TikTok, perhaps thanks to the success of Hulu’s hit show “The Bear.”

The middle of the store featured a rainbow wall of socks that led to the dressing rooms.

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

Socks came in ankle and crew lengths. The store also carried dress shoes and sneakers for $39.90.  

Before I got to the dressing room, I walked into a section with more women’s clothing.

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

There were sports bras for $19.90 and leggings for $29.90. 

There were also several sale racks leading to the dressing rooms.

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

Most of the clothing in the sale section were women’s styles. 

An employee asked me to take five pieces at a time and pointed me to an open dressing room.

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

There were several shoppers in the store, but the dressing rooms weren’t too busy. I was able to get into a room right away. 

Inside, the dressing room was well-lit and spacious enough to change comfortably.

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

The mirror was a little dirty and I wished it was wider. 

To start off, I chose two faux leather shirts, a pair of slacks, cargo pants, and a two-piece sweater.

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

There were plenty of hooks to hang my clothes. As I try clothes on, I like to organize everything by what I still have to try, what I liked, and what I didn’t like. 

First, I tried on the white denim cargo pants.

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

I haven’t been into the cargo pant trend but I was surprised by how much I liked these. The slightly baggy style made them really comfortable, but they also weren’t so oversized that they overwhelmed my frame. I could also see them dressed down for weekends and dressed up with a blazer or sweater for work. 

Next, I tried the tucked wide pants and a layered two-piece sweater.

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

The tucked wide pants were $29.90 and the layered sweater was $39.90.

I was not a fan of the sweater. While I could see the design they were going for, it looked awkward on me. Perhaps my arms weren’t long enough, but the sleeves were severely bunchy. 

I really liked how the pants looked in the front, but when I turned around, the fabric bunched in the wrong places around my butt. 

I noticed there are some significant fit differences between pant styles at GU.

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

These slacks were a size small, but the white cargos were a medium, yet both fit me well.

I quickly learned that the best way to find the right fit is to look at the tag. In fine print next to the letter size is a waist measurement. Both of these pants had a 26 inch waist, despite being a whole size apart. 

Next, I tried a faux leather button-down shirt.

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

I really liked the olive color of this shirt, but the fit was a little weird for me. It’s supposed to be oversized, but the sleeves were just an inch too long and bellowed at the wrist. I appreciated the concept — I could see it in the pages of a fashion magazine. But the fit didn’t suit me and I couldn’t justify spending $39.90 on it.

I also tried the same shirt in black, but it felt like something I could find in a lot of other stores. 

Next, I tried a pleated mini-skirt and a ruched pinstripe dress.

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

I actually liked the mini-skirt more than I expected. I was grateful for the shorts attached inside — there’s no way I could wear a skirt that short in New York City without worrying about train station breeze. 

But ultimately, I decided the school-girl look is just not my style as a now 30-year-old. I’ll leave the super-short skirts in my twenties. 

The dress was also a cute design, but the shape was too boxy. The waist floated around my actual waistline, and the neckline hovered above my chest. 

I tried on a high-neck cropped shirt I found in the sale section for $4.90

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

GU calls the shirt a “bra-feel” t-shirt because it has padding inside. I was surprised to see what was essentially an entire bra attached to the front interior — much more support than I expected. I liked the top, but the bra was too tight in a size small, so I decided to look for a medium. 

The white cargo pants inspired me to go back and grab more cargos to try on.

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

There were two different cargos towards the front of the store. There was a parachute cargo pant on sale for $29.90 and a “pull-on” cargo pant priced at $39.90. Both were baggy and oversized, so it was a little tricky to tell the difference. 

I also grabbed another pair of the white cargo pants, but in the light-wash denim, and headed back to the dressing rooms.

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

I was curious to see how all the styles and fits compared. Instead of paying attention to the letter size, I grabbed the sizes with 26-inch waists. I ended up with mediums in the pull-on and denim cargos and smalls in the parachute pants. 

I didn’t hate the baggy cargos, but wasn’t sure they were my style.

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

With a fitted top, the cargo pants kind of looked cool. But as much as I’ve been embracing more wide-leg pant styles, I wasn’t sold on the cargo look. 

Next, I tried the parachute pants. I liked them best in black.

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

Again, I was surprised that these cargos didn’t look awful on me. And I liked that in black, the fabric almost looked like a wide-leg dress pant. But ultimately, I decided to hold off on buying a pair. I’m not sure the pants are suited for my personal style, and I’m not one to conform to a trend just because everyone else is wearing it. 

I didn’t like the denim cargo pants — the acid wash evoked a costume interpretation of parachute pants from the ’80s. 

I headed to the register to purchase the white cargo pants and lime green bra top.

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

There wasn’t a line, so I went right up to the register. The employee was so quick at ringing me up, I was still pulling out my credit card by the time they had everything in the bag. My total came to $34.80, plus 10 cents for the paper bag. 

 

GU successfully converted me from cargo-skeptic to cargo-tolerant.

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/Insider

I had written off cargos as a trend only for Gen Z, but I don’t totally hate them. The super baggy style isn’t for me, but I can understand the overall appeal of cargos.  They’re comfortable pants and have a cool street-style vibe. 

After my store visit, I could see why GU is becoming popular. It’s a one-stop-shop for basics like tees, jeans, sweatpants, and sweaters, but also offers some trendy pieces at affordable prices. 

That said, I did notice some ill-fitting styles and lower-quality fabrics at GU, which is to be expected for a fast-fashion company. While large brands like Shein, H&M, Zara, and Forever 21 are typically the ones called to question for unethical labor practices and overproduction which contributes to landfill waste, these issues are widespread throughout the industry. 

Read the original article on Business Insider
Avatar

Read more

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