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Upscaling brand image: UNIQLO Japan

Yuri Taira (Beedie School of Business, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, Canada)
David J. Hardisty (Sauder School of Business, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada)
Rui Jorge B. Basto da Silva (Sauder School of Business, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada)

Publication date: 23 March 2023

Issue publication date: 20 April 2023


Research methodology

The authors analyzed data and information mainly from the company’s annual reports and the books written by the CEO.

Case overview/synopsis

How and when can a “value” brand upscale its brand image? In the wake of the financial crisis of 2007–2008, UNIQLO – Japan’s street fashion brand – considered introducing a new brand collaboration. They needed to capture the attention of younger, more fashionable consumers. However, people were tightening their spending as they faced uncertainties related to their jobs and wealth. Even though UNIQLO had had a steady growth in sales for the previous 24 years, it was questionable whether it was strategically a good time to launch a premium brand collaboration. And if so, who was the right partner? High-end designer Jil Sander, fashionable New York-based Theory or emerging French “casual luxury” brand Comptoir des Cotonniers?

Complexity academic level

This case is about the challenges faced by a low-priced brand to collaborate with a high-end brand to enhance the brand image. It explores the important elements to take into consideration when evaluating launching collaboration using the high-end brand’s name. The students will learn how to examine the risks and benefits of creating a new image for the core brand. If the students had learnt branding or brand extension before, this case can be used to teach how consumer’s perception affects brand extension and the target market’s impact on pricing and distribution strategies. It can be used for a marketing course at the MBA level to explore the concepts in a growing company’s brand image or an undergraduate specialized course in brand management or marketing management. The students also learn how the fashion industry’s supply chain management works to adapt to rapidly changing fashion trends.



In submitting this case to the Case Journal for widespread distribution in print and electronic media, I (we) certify that it is original work, based on real events in a real organization. It has not been published and is not under review elsewhere. Copyright holders have given written permission for the use of any material not permitted by the “Fair Use Doctrine”. All information contained in the case was publicly available and gathered from the published articles, the company’s annual reports, and other public resources.Disclaimer. This case is intended to be used as the basis for class discussion rather than to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. The case was compiled from published sources.


Taira, Y., Hardisty, D.J. and Basto da Silva, R.J.B. (2023), "Upscaling brand image: UNIQLO Japan", , Vol. 19 No. 3, pp. 381-416.



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