The Secret Behind Uniqlo’s PERFECT Folded Shirt Stacks

Sweater wall at Uniqlo. Photograph by Evy Mages

When you step inside the new Uniqlo in Tysons Corner, you’re going to notice impeccable stacks upon stacks of folded sweaters, t-shirts, pants, and more. That is, if a mob of excited Uniqlo fans hasn’t come to take everything off the shelves before you get there. 

While neatly-folding clothing is generally a goal of every fashion retailer, Uniqlo takes it to a whole new level. I mean, just look at these sweaters:

Women's Merino wool sweaters are a popular Uniqlo product.

And not only do they emphasize it in the store—it’s also a point of pride throughout the company. Uniqlo’s standard is completing a stack, which is made up of seven items, in a minute.

When I joked to Jack Zech, Uniqlo’s director of stores, that Uniqlo could give host their own Dundies for shirt folding, he informed me that they do, only they refer to it as Uniqlo Olympics, which is an actual event where Uniqlo employees compete for the fastest speed and best quality in the folding of their stack. Well, then.

So how do they make it happen?

The folding process actually starts back at the factory, where Uniqlo area manager Elise Droste says the folds in the apparel are steamed into place, creating creases in the garment.

In the store, the associates practice “body folding,” according to Droste. Rather than folding on top of tables, associates are trained to hold up the garments against themselves to fold. The tables are less inviting, and they make it harder for an associate to drop what they’re doing to jump and help a customer, explains Droste.

Because the garments are already creased where they’re intended to be folded, it makes it easier for associates to pick up a Uniqlo sweater, hold it up against themselves, and to whip it into a perfect, neat square. Here’s a play-by-play: 

Droste starts by holding the sweater up against herself.
She then folds one arm across the back of the sweater along the crease.
Then she folds the arm of the sweater down.
Then she repeats the fold with the other arm of the sweater.
Then she prepares to fold it over in half.
The sweater is folded over allowing the size sticker to show on the front.
The sweater is then added to the stack. Done!

Associate Editor

Caroline Cunningham joined Washingtonian in 2014 after moving to the DC area from Cincinnati, where she interned and freelanced for Cincinnati Magazine and worked in content marketing. She currently resides in College Park.