Are you familiar with a store named Muji?
Muji began in the Omote-Sando district in Tokyo more than 40 years ago. The chain is owned by the Seibu department stores. A good friend of mine was the person who suggested the Muji idea.
The idea is environmentally pure products. There are no Muji products that use dyes or artificial material. They are always cottons, silks, wools and clear wood. The products also have no brand on them other than the store price label.
When I visited the first store I recommended something that I now find preposterous. I recommended that the first store in the United States should be in San Francisco because the 1980 hippies would love the environmental cleanliness of the products.
I was completely wrong.
Fortunately, the Muji management ignored my advice and opened their first offshore store in Paris. Then London, and eventually Manhattan.
What these people knew that I didn't know or understand was that the entire environmental movement is nothing but style. My friend Alex has been insisting on this point for 15 years. But the Muji people saw this more than 40 years ago.
Environmental everything, from food to clothes to recycling and even environmental issues, are entirely a matter of style. The environmentalist puts on the cotton clothes, the composting behavior and the recycling attitudes just to show how stylish they are.
It sure took me a long time to fully understand that from a more marketing point of view. Of course the first store outside Japan was in the style center of the planet, so it had to be in Paris.