When we were growing up, we might have ventured a guess that clothing vending machines might exist in the future. Sure, those clothing items would have been branded with Lisa Frank artwork and the Spice Girls, but a vest vending machine is (almost) as exciting.
According to Chron, there’s one of those very machines at San Francisco’s airport. It’s been mercilessly mocked on Twitter for its ridiculousness, mainly because, as the joke goes, vests have become the de facto uniform for Silicon Valley tech bros.
But the joke’s on the naysayers, it seems. The vending machine has raked in $10,000 a month on average, according to Doug Yakel, a public information officer at San Francisco International.
The vending machine sells only Uniqlo-branded vests at nearly $50 each, which means the machine sells roughly 200 vests a month. The purpose of the vending machine was to give travelers to the Bay Area some extra insulation for the colder Northern California climate.
It seems Uniqlo has been at the vending machine apparel game for awhile now. Last year, the company started selling clothes out of vending machines in airports and malls across the U.S. Those “Uniqlo To Go” machines stocked the company’s thermal heat-tech T-shirt and its lightweight down jacket.
Will the future of retail be confined to vending machines? Probably not. But will more airports and malls consider adding these machines to their terminals? Perhaps. It’s a great option for travelers that didn’t check the weather forecast, or forgot something at home. The packaging for the vests is minimal, and it seems to take up very little space, so it’s different than simply shopping at a clothing shop in the airport. These essentials are truly traveler-friendly.
So far, Uniqlo seems to be the only fashion brand taking advantage of the vending machine possibilities. We can see other fast fashion brands getting in on the action. At the very least, this could be a smart play for Target, Amazon and Walmart. And we certainly can see the possibilities for just about any business that wants to sell branded apparel in an attention-grabbing, low-overhead kind of way.