Uniqlo is making a move into academia, thanks to a new program at Harvard. The Japanese company is offering two fellowships a year starting in September 2015 — one at Harvard Business School and one at Harvard University Graduate School of Design — to Japanese students already accepted into either program.
The fellowships will be awarded one per year to each program for three years, resulting in six Japanese nationals receiving the funds. Recipients will be selected based on an application as well as interviews with Fast Retailing chairman, president and CEO Tadashi Yanai and either Professor Hirotaka Takeuchi of the Harvard Business School or Mr. Toyo Ito, a visiting professor at Harvard University Graduate School of Design. The amount allotted to the fellowships is $1.2 million or ¥120 million, meaning each student will receive $200,000 or ¥2 million. Fellowship recipients will also be accepted into Fast Retailing's internship program.
Of the program, Yanai said in a press release, "Innovation lies at the intersection of design and business management. I look forward to seeing talented young people from Japan transform their aspirations into reality on the global stage."
The move is an interesting one for a fast fashion retailer, but it makes sense. Designers always say that business skills are among the most important for success, and with these scholarships Uniqlo is helping to support future designers and business partners. Plus, Uniqlo's plans to unveil six new Boston stores this fall, one of which has got to be pretty close to the Harvard campus. Pro tip for applicants: Wear Uniqlo to the interview.