Attention, Muji fans: the beloved Japanese lifestyle brand is finally coming to Vancouver.
The quiet announcement (how fitting for an understated company that does not even put labels on its products) was made during the small preview for Westbank’s “Japan Unlayered” exhibit at the Fairmont Pacific Rim, by Muji Canada president Toru Akita and Muji parent company Ryohin Keikaku director and executive officer Satoshi Okazaki.
While “Japan Unlayered” features a Muji pop-up shop, the news of not one but two permanent stores coming to the Lower Mainland (one in downtown Vancouver and the other in Metrotown) is sure to get minimalist lovers’ hearts pumping. “I want to open before Christmas,” Akita says, mentioning that he spotted a few restaurants around town where the staff were already using Muji pens. “They saw I was from the Muji brand and they were so excited. They kept asking, ‘When are you coming?’”
Vancouver fans of the company have long grumbled over the fact that Toronto has three stores while the West Coast has none. But that is finally set to change.
Muji, founded in 1980, creates everything from pens and umbrellas to organic cotton shirts and bean-bag chairs. It truly generates a lifestyle around its goods, guiding consumers from the moment they wake up to the second they fall asleep again. Want a bath? Muji makes towels. Oh, it also makes aroma diffusers and scented oil blends to ease you into relaxation. Maybe finish your “me time” with a splash of refreshing Muji toning water, and then put on a pair of Muji socks and freshly ironed Muji pajamas.
The brand is genius in its simplicity, focusing not on things that people desperately need, but rather things that will satisfactorily do the job right. It’s not the highest excellence, but rather a subdued quality that neutralizes and calms daily life. With no branding on the actual items (only on the packaging), a Muji product is almost anonymous—it’s a whisper, a modest smile.
Keikaku is confident that Muji’s Lower Mainland stores will do well because of the area’s large Asian population—after all, the company originates in Asia, and that remains where it is most popular. “In China, Taiwan, Korea—it’s Asian people who know,” he says. Still, word is spreading fast, and is sure to spread faster still with news of two brick-and-mortar shops.
“It’s a wonderful time to release our information about opening stores in Vancouver,” says Akita. “I promise we’ll bring some new things we haven’t introduced in Canada yet.” When asked what some of those things might be, Akita just smiles and pretends to zip his mouth shut. Some things are just worth waiting for.
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