What I’ve Got: Japanese Brands in America

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(Muji)

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(Uniqlo)

Both Muji and Uniqlo are Japanese brands, which have gained amazing popularity in the States over the last couple years. However, aside from the minimalist aesthetic draws of Japanese labels in the US, what is perhaps most interesting is the transformation of the Japanese brand into an Americanized-Japanese brand.

There is no “man” behind Muji and shoppers who can read the characters in the Japanese label (無印良品) realize the irony of America’s desire for the Muji brand. The first character, 無 (mu), means “without.” The second character, 印 (jirushi), means “brand.” “Muji” is simply short for “Mujirushi Ryōhin” or “brandless quality goods,”and essentially a generic supermarket brand that started in the 1980s.

Lost in translation within the landscape of American desires for brand, the brandless Muji has become in fact…a brand.

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