What to buy from Uniqlo U by Christophe Lemaire
If you’re a fan of ‘gentlewoman style‘ (come on, it’s my first week, humour me!), you’ll be familiar with Christophe Lemaire. The former creative director of Hermès is now heading up Uniqlo U, a new, twice-yearly collection, produced by the Uniqlo Paris R&D centre team, where Lemaire is artistic director.
The debut Uniqlo U collection arrived today and I got an early look a few weeks ago when I saw the line in its entirety. Then it was impeccably merchandised; colour-coordinated, pressed to within an inch of its life and modelled on gorgeous young things in the showroom. But how does it stack up in store? I went to a preview shopping event yesterday and tried everything on so you don’t have to…
DESIGN If you’re a disciple of Christophe Lemaire, then you already know what to expect. Classic colours (let’s call them muted primaries, such as ochre yellow, dull red, denim blue), utilitarian staples with a luxury cut and finish and plenty of outerwear. The coats are great and if you like MA1 jackets and haven’t got one yet (um, where have you been?), then these come in lots of colours and are reversible (buy them here, £59.90). Uniqlo is famous for its down jackets and there’s a lot of choice here. I bought the featherweight Light Down Shirt Jacket (£69.90) as a useful layer to wear under my coat and as with everything, they come up big so go a size down.
There are lots of boyish pieces but there are also some standout shirt dresses (buy them here, £39.90), tunic tops and cotton grandad shirts (here, £29.90) for the Chloé-Hermès-Lemaire girl. I’ve noticed that Uniqlo is doing a lot with French designers and there’s a definite French-Japanese harmony to this that will speak to all the cool kids.
QUALITY Uniqlo’s ‘LifeWear’ philosophy is all about the practical, everyday-anywhere pieces and in that respect, I think the best quality pieces are those made from utilitarian fabrics. The nylon, denim and cotton pieces look like they will last well. There are some great cashmere knits but I baulked at paying £100 for high street cashmere.
FIT A lot of attention has been paid to cut and fit and I think this could well determine the ongoing success of this line. I wasn’t sold on the Jil Sander collection a few years ago, but the cut on this collection is extremely considered. The MA1 is cropped and has a very curved silhouette. It’s a slightly more ‘fashion’ version than other MA1s. The sleeves are gently curved which I noticed on my padded Light Down Shirt Jacket too. It just helps it look more contemporary.
I tried a very simple black rollneck. It’s cut slightly wide which I loved and I was super tempted, but was just not sure about the quality. There are a lot of beautiful knits though, I loved the Milano Ribed Crew Neck (£39.90, here) which looks like it could be Acne Studio. It’s boxy but slim and so didn’t quite fit my shape. Overall, I will say that you need to be slimish for these shapes to flatter. They’re quite androgynous and bulky or generously cut which is very much the look of the moment.
TRENDS For those who love the Vetements mania for padded jackets and bombers, this is for you. If you need to stock up on bright knits in simple shapes, then the cut on the knits is very appealing. I discovered an amazing chino-jean hybrid (I’ve christened them ‘jean-os’) that is a perfect fit. It’s a chino cut with an ironed-in front crease and adjustable side tabs (£29.90, buy them here). Very menswear-y but the twist is it’s a denim-y fabric. I’ve been wearing mine all day and might have to go back for more.
Accessory-wise, there’s not a huge amount. But I can imagine the padded mittens, bag and scarf will do well. I don’t think Uniqlo does much in the way of leathergoods, which is a shame as it would have been good to see a leather bag or two. Maybe in time…
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WORDS: Disneyrollergirl/Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGES: Uniqlo U
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6 October, 2016 @ 1:33 pm
Apologies this is a late response. The Lemaire Uniqlo collaboration is my favourite collaboration because it combines a great designer with Uniqlo’s consistent quality. (Though I am always so regretful that I didn’t buy any pieces from the Topshop/J W Anderson collaboration years ago.) I have pieces from the two Lemaire summer seasons released and the 2015/16 winter collection unworn because I bought it in Australia during our summer. I have also bought a lot of pieces for my son. However, cannot resist this new season particularly the MA1 jacket,some jumpers and the pleated skirt. I have noticed that the UK gets all the Uniqlo collaborations first. So thank you so much for the heads up, and I checked and US which is where I am now is 14 Oct, and no release date that I could find for Australia. PS I have never worn a puffer jacket – I am wondering if I will need one for Northern Hemisphere winter (East Coast US).
6 October, 2016 @ 2:33 pm
Thanks Yvonne, I only realised after writing my post that the collection launches later in the U.S. I will update with a shopping gallery once it does as for some reason my shopping tool (powered by RewardStyle) doesn’t work with the UK site. The collection is really lovely. It was quite outerwear-heavy in its merchandising in the flagship store, but at the press preview there were lots of sweatshirts, shirts and dresses on display too. I will find out about Australia.
11 October, 2016 @ 12:36 am
Thanks for this, I have been checking out the collection online and it is great to have the lowdown on some of the key pieces from you. I am loving the striped shirt, my ‘thing’ for stripes just never goes away…. a little obsession :-)