Hysteria! Loud noises!—Muji!Muji! Muji! Muji and more Muji! Blogs and buyers alike have been waiting with oddly baited breath (what, did Muji invest in Racked or something) for the opening of the minimalist lifestyle supplier to open up on Broadway and Grand. On Friday, the Muji-hideen got their chance to peruse the pop-up-store-sized version of what one customer termed the, “Ikea of Japan.” That evening, we nudged our way through the ironically high number of Japanese tourists to see what the maker of our favorite business card case might offer for the Kempt man. While the pickings were few among the tasteful eggshell teapots, there were a few bargains for the taking.
Among low shelves and narrow aisles, the men’s department sits in the rear, hemmed in by fanny packs and luggage. While Muji employees maintained Uniqlo-like level of retail order by folding, organizing and refolding merchandise, there was no one to help us with Japanese cuts and sizing. The lack of fitting rooms was not a problem as Muji SoHo traffics mostly in coats, sweaters and henleys crafted out of simple cotton or canvas. The flat, unfitted peacoats ($151) made with basic materials and an industrial attention to detail had a certain rough charm, though the black wool version was a bit too steep for the quality at $280. A gray terry hoodie at $39.50 is comfortable enough for Sunday-morning football or the gym and the we appreciated the inexpensive henleys, underwear and soft, stretchy Ts.
Still, there was the sting of Muji’s import markup. By far the best buy was a loose, attractively ragged gingham button-up—a steal at $25.50. One customer turning away from the simple ceramic dinnerware priced under $50 summed it up: “Color me unimpressed, but then, it could have been the prices.”
- — Gabriel Bell