Uniqlo debuts an even bolder collection
Starting next August, Uniqlo will be promoting its utilitarian side and stepping away from its minimalist tradition. In Paris for the European presentation of its upcoming collection, the Uniqlo creative team has organized its offering into eleven product categories that involve both technical and stylistic innovations. “In each of these groups of clothes, our innovations enable us to boost the benefits of the product for the customer,” said Yuki Katsuta, senior vice president of global research and design for Fast Retailing. Katsuta serves as the liaison between the label’s different design teams under the creative direction of Naoki Takizawa, recruited in 2012 from Issey Miyake where he was head designer.
An example of new technology is the HeatTech line, which sealed Uniqlo’s position on the front lines of thermal fabrics. The label is bringing out low-waisted women’s tights to wear with skirts or jeans. Essentially a knitwear line, HeatTech will soon debut knits equipped with its thermal technology, for example body-forming shorts for women. “We start by pinpointing the requirements of real people and their real lives, hence the term 'LifeWear,'” said Yuki Katsuta.
The brand’s famous down jackets, their world-wide bestseller, have been updated and come in various new shapes and varieties. “Our strategic partner Toray exclusively designed an even lighter down jacket that we were able to develop into a long coat, jacket or vest with new prints,” said Yuki Katsuta, pointing to the tie-dyed denim jackets for men and the pink knit for women. Even more daring were the down quilted skirts for fall in a bottle green more typical of Ralph Lauren or Cyrillus.
The other innovation from the 99 looks presented in Paris, styled by Nicola Formichetti and Shun Watanabe, is the extensive use of silk in the women’s collection. A dress or gossamer blouse, 100% silk is “the next big thing” at Uniqlo, following its foray into cashmere. The brand says it has reworked its cashmere to be more fun with its first two-tone jackets and sweaters “for a more sports look,” commented the design director. New pieces in faux leather were also previewed, including a pair of leggings, an item that is quickly becoming a wardrobe essential.
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