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Uniqlo and Sweden keen on podium return after extending partnership

When it got here to determining how you can deal with Japan’s sweltering climate in the course of the Tokyo Video games, Sweden’s Olympic and Paralympic groups determined to search for native experience.

That led the Nordic nation to signal a contract with quick vogue titan Uniqlo, who outfitted Swedish athletes at Tokyo 2020. The 2 events introduced an extension of their partnership on Wednesday, making certain that Sweden will proceed to put on Uniqlo via the Paris Video games.

Whereas Uniqlo is not any stranger to the Olympics — the corporate outfitted Crew Japan for the 2002 Winter and 2004 Summer time Video games in Salt Lake Metropolis and Athens, respectively — it was the corporate’s first time supplying clothes outdoors of its residence nation and a brand new alternative to showcase its strengths.

“The Swedish Olympic Committee (SOC) acknowledged our high quality and innovation, however they wished to find out about our sustainability,” Koji Yanai, group senior govt officer at Uniqlo proprietor Quick Retailing, instructed The Japan Instances forward of Wednesday’s announcement.

“Sweden has a robust world status for sustainability, and that’s one thing we’re dedicated to enhancing, and we thought that this partnership can be an excellent alternative to share that with the world.”

When Uniqlo was engaged on their uniforms for Tokyo 2020, firm officers met with teams of Swedish athletes in Stockholm to evaluate material samples, take measurements and solicit suggestions. Of prime concern was Tokyo’s infamous summer season climate and the way it could have an effect on opponents.

“The SOC put plenty of significance in getting the gamers concerned and listening to their opinions,” stated Yanai, who’s in control of Uniqlo’s Olympic and Paralympic endeavors and is the second-eldest son of firm founder Tadashi Yanai.

“Folks in Sweden haven’t normally skilled Japanese summers. They have been involved about temperatures close to 40 levels and all of that humidity. However their Uniqlo clothes depraved off their sweat and dried shortly.

“For them to consider our clothes contributed positively to their performances is an enormous takeaway for us.”

Fast Retailing founder Tadashi Yanai poses with Swedish Olympic Committee CEO Peter Reinebo. | UNIQLO
Quick Retailing founder Tadashi Yanai poses with Swedish Olympic Committee CEO Peter Reinebo. | UNIQLO

Among the many suggestions they supplied Uniqlo designers was a requirement for designs that may encourage them throughout competitors, resulting in a set that includes an eye catching neon yellow that may shock customers accustomed to the corporate’s sometimes muted shade palette.

“It’s the clothes they compete in, the clothes they combat in, so that they wished designs that may fireplace them up,” Yanai stated. “In coaching or enjoyable of their rooms, they have been high-quality with carrying common Uniqlo clothes, however on the Olympics they’re representing Sweden, they usually’re in a battle to win gold, and they also don’t wish to really feel relaxed.

“They wished designs to assist get them prepared for battle, and that stood out to me. It was crucial for the athletes.”

Uniqlo first started sponsoring athletes in 2009, when wheelchair tennis star Shingo Kunieda grew to become its first ambassador. Since then, the corporate’s secure has expanded to incorporate a number of sports activities, with Kunieda rival Gordon Reid, snowboarder Ayumu Hirano, golfer Adam Scott and tennis gamers Roger Federer and Kei Nishikori additionally signing on.

Their continued success on the sphere of play may give Uniqlo, which started advertising and marketing its sportswear merchandise in 2016, better entry to what market analysts think about to be value over $200 billion yearly.

Yanai believes that the corporate’s sports activities objects, which it manufacturers as “Sports activities Utility Put on” to replicate that they may also be worn in informal settings, are on the similar stage as merchandise launched by main athletic manufacturers similar to Nike and Adidas.

“Uniqlo could also be thought of a way of life model, however sports activities are part of life,” Yanai stated. “Our athlete ambassadors are all acting at a world-class stage and that’s proof that our clothes might be worn in these conditions.

“The clothes we promote is fabricated from the identical materials and created with the identical manufacturing strategies because the clothes that Kunieda and Federer use, and we wish customers to know that.”

Wheelchair tennis star Shingo Kunieda, who won gold in the men's singles competition at the Tokyo Paralympics, became Uniqlo's first sponsored athlete in 2009. | REUTERS
Wheelchair tennis star Shingo Kunieda, who received gold within the males’s singles competitors on the Tokyo Paralympics, grew to become Uniqlo’s first sponsored athlete in 2009. | REUTERS

Swedish athletes wore Uniqlo on the rostrum a mixed 17 occasions on the Tokyo Video games, profitable three gold and 6 silver medals on the Olympics earlier than taking one gold, 5 silver and two bronze on the Paralympics.

However expectations might be even greater in February, when Sweden might be trying to break its Winter Video games file of seven golds — first set at Torino 2006, then matched three years in the past in Pyeongchang.

There, Uniqlo hopes to leverage its widespread line of cold-weather expertise — together with Heattech, the light-weight thermal material launched a 12 months after the corporate outfitted Japan’s delegation in Salt Lake Metropolis — to assist Swedish athletes end on high of the Beijing podium early and infrequently.

“There was plenty of concern over the recent situations in Tokyo, and equally we’re getting plenty of requests to handle very chilly climate in Beijing,” Yanai stated. “Our largest purpose is that we wish to create clothes that can let Sweden’s athletes compete as comfortably as attainable, and we hope to have the ability to put all of our expertise into use.

“We would like Sweden to win much more medals than they did in Tokyo. And we wish Uniqlo clothes to have the ability to assist them accomplish that.”

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