UNIQLO, the rising clothing retailer that most Americans know because of Novak Djokovic, is on a roll. 2paragraphs reported a few months ago that the colorful, inventive Japanese retailer was firing on all cylinders–and here’s more proof. Djokovic–the company’s No. 1 celebrity endorser and not coincidentally the No. 1 seed at the US Open–was surprisingly ousted in the semifinals by a nobody named Kei Nishikori. Bad news for UNIQLO? Nope. Kei Nishikori happens also to be sponsored by UNIQLO and his shirts are flying off the shelves.
Nishikori’s not really a nobody. He’s the 10th seed. He won the Barcelona Open in April and you don’t get big name sponsorship unless your name rings a bell in certain parts of the world. (He’s also had a sponsorship deal with Nissin Food Products–you’ve eaten their ramen noodles.) But with his September run in New York, Nishikori has bounded out of his primarily Asian orbit and made himself a worldwide brand. He’s the first Asian player to reach the US Open finals–or any Grand Slam finals–ever. And for that very individual feat alone, he fits the UNIQLO brand perfectly.