A brand-new store opened in Tokyo's Harajuku fashion district on Friday, walls lined with clothes, shoes and handbags — and with a twist: shoppers will walk away empty-handed.

The GU Style Studio store — opened by Fast Retailing Co., Asia's largest clothier and the operator of Uniqlo — is for customers to try apparel and place orders online for later delivery. They can also try out extra services, such as playing with clothing combinations on a virtual mannequin and creating a digital avatar.

Although the notion of showcase shopping has been around for a while, and remains somewhat popular in Europe, such stores have usually been reserved for electronics, household items and knick-knacks. Seldom has the idea been pursued in the clothing sector. But as the rise of e-commerce threatens to upend the global retail industry, apparel makers are experimenting with new ways of selling clothes.