For TextilWirtschaft home 2/2017/ Photos: Nic Oswald
How do you achieve the price while focusing so much on the product?
It is difficult to have a balance of quality, functionality and price. This is one reason why we survive, because it is difficult and we achieve it.
So what is the secret recipe then?
There is no secret recipe, but the difference between MUJI and other brands is our way of approaching product development. Normally, to add value to a product regular companies will add design and then keep on adding. At MUJI, we have a completely different method. We are trying to reduce or exclude unnecessary parts in order to simplify things. This difference in approach brings about a completely different product result. We are also constantly trying to improve our supply chain management.
Do you think by cutting out what is not necessary, the result is a sophisticated design which requires a certain kind of intellect to be understood?
Indeed. And this is a challenge for us as well. Maybe in Japan it is easier. The Bauhaus movement also tried to simplify things to make them functional. Traditionally in Japan, prior to the Bauhaus movement, we were seeking beauty in simplicity. It’s in our DNA to have this kind of attitude, and if people have grown up in this kind of environment they understand.
New and somehow challenging for the consumer, MUJI is also so affordable. Now we are in an era where price doesn’t determine luxury anymore. In another interview you said, that MUJI is the antithesis of today’s consumer habits. What do you mean?
There are two common natures in human beings. One is desire, and the second is that people are always concerned about what others think of them. Looking back to earlier societies there was no consumer society as there were no ratios. And everybody had the same hair colour and the same eye colour. People did not need to think about what other people thought of them because they were similar, apart from in terms of social milieu. Today in Vietnam for example new international brands, like H&M and Zara, are entering the market, and so what is happening is that new cultures are also entering the market. The people are quite shocked with a lot of information spread via magazines. People are using whitening skincare products to become fairer and using coloured contact lenses to have blue eyes. They’re dyeing their hair blond. They are trying to be fashionable and compare themselves to others. This is what has already happened in Japan in and under these circumstances people lost the idea of self. The power of trend is too strong. With this in mind, MUJI is the antithesis of consumer society in the way that we ask people to be themselves, to not lose their self-awareness, nor follow every trend. You have to find out the real value of things.
How does MUJI achieve this?
Under these circumstances there are still some people who are very conscious of what real values are. When the MUJI concept was born, it was developed by some important designers who targeted the people who know about those values. We don’t name the designer and we don’t name the brand on the products. It is just the product itself that counts.
This is also typical Bauhaus.
Yes, they have been very innovative. They strived to do away with ornamentation. That is why MUJI respects Bauhaus. They will celebrate 100 years shortly. Congratulations.
You say that you are not branding your product, but MUJI is a desirable brand.
Maybe we can’t say that anymore, that we are not a brand. You’re right. We often hear from different countries that MUJI is the new luxury because it is not branded. So the non-brand became a brand in itself, I guess.