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Behind the Scenes at Uniqlo's Brand New 34th Street Megastore

Fresh off the success of their just-opened Fifth Avenue flagship, Japanese high street retail giant Uniqlo is set to unveil a new Penn Station location tomorrow at noon. They offered me a chance to check out the 64,000-square-foot space more than 24 hours before the ribbon-cutting ceremony, with construction teams still out in full force. And while I expected to see those immaculate rows of colorful cashmere and the label's famous $9.90 denim, the high-flying mannequins caught me slightly off-guard.

Yes, the 34th Street space is the first of its kind to house a number of styled-to-the-nines mannequins, all of which fly up and down between the store's three floors. And for those who think this brand's all about simple basics, think again—those mannequins were wearing the label's signature knit sweaters as turbans and their puffer jackets as pencil skirts. Talk about making Uniqlo completely unique.

Having missed the boat on last winter's final shipment of HeatTech separates, I was happy to see the second floor of the store boasted a sprawling section devoted to the warmth-generating pieces that get me through NYC's frostier months. There's also a hearty selection of pieces from the Uniqlo Innovation Project (a sporty collection masterminded by Naoki Takizawa, formerly of Issey Miyake, and Nicola Formichetti), including a tear-away zippered hoodie that has to be tested to be believed. And, for all those looking to snap up Jil Sander's farewell +J collection, you'll be happy to hear that capsule's got an entire glass-walled half-floor to itself.

"The 34th Street store will be our second largest location in the world," Uniqlo's U.S. CEO Shin Odake told me. "There are 147 LED/LCD screens, eight flying mannequins, 83 fitting rooms, and 36 cashiers. But each floor is still so easy to navigate, as they all have a similar layout." Fancy taking a long lunch break tomorrow?

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