Photos: Muji opens largest location outside of Asia on Robson Street

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      After launching its first Western Canadian store at Metropolis at Metrotown this summer, Japanese retailer Muji has opened its largest location outside of Asia at 1125 Robson Street.

      Measuring a whopping 14,507 square feet—almost double the size of the Burnaby outpost—the shop carries over 4,500 items from Muji's in-house line of "no-brand quality goods", including men's, women's, and children's apparel; pens and stationery; beauty and personal-care goods; and tableware, cooking utensils, and household cleaning tools. It officially opens its doors to the public today (December 2).

      As previously reported by the Straight, Muji is introducing a number of product categories and departments to Canada through this store. These include Muji Labo, a limited-run, experimental line of Japanese-designed clothing from the company's product-development team; Muji Green, which sells a selection of potted houseplants and gardening accessories; the Aroma Bar, where shoppers can create custom fragrances from the 40-plus essential oils on deck; and Muji Coffee Counter, a cafe that serves fair-trade coffee from Vancouver's Ethical Bean with partial proceeds benefiting women and children in need in Guatemala. 

      If the cafe proves a hit among Vancouverites, it may lead Muji to launch a food menu similar to that seen at the retailer's outposts in Asia. "This counter could be used to test the potential of other products," Toru Akita, president of Muji Canada, told the Straight during an interview alongside Satoru Matsuzaki, president of Muji parent company Ryohin Keikaku, at Muji Robson Street.

      A variety of potted houseplants and gardening accessories are now available at Muji Robson Street.
      Lucy Lau

      Other store features include a customization bar titled Muji Yourself, another first for Canada that offers embroidery, gift-wrapping, and label-printing services; and a kid's play area and reading nook complete with a curated selection of coffee-table tomes, recipe books, and other materials. In addition, style and interior advisors will be onsite to offer complimentary guidance in wardrobe styling and interior design, respectively.

      The Robson Street opening comes less than four months after the Tokyo-based label unveiled its Burnaby location in August. More than 1,600 people lined up for that grand opening, said Matsuzaki. That response, along with the overwhelming success of a Muji pop-up that ran from January to February at the Fairmont Pacific Rim, prompted the team to expand into one of Vancouver's premier shopping districts.

      Although its products are adored worldwide, the company, which was founded as a response to the excess of logos and branding that entered Japan during the 1980s, makes an effort to tailor its stores to their respective locales. At Muji Robson Street, guests will notice a warm interior dominated by lush greenery and natural woods, for example, with displays emphasizing water-resistant coats, plaid flannels, denim, and T-shirts adorned with Canadiana imagery like moose and maple leaves. Breathable, sustainably sourced fabrics are also important.

      "We are finding that our customers [in Vancouver] tend to choose materials that are good for us and the environment, such as organic cotton," explained Akita, who added that he would eventually "like to bring in more items from Japan that are not available in Canada yet."

      Check out the images below for a peek at Muji's new Robson Street outpost.

      Lucy Lau
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