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…
WORDS: Disneyrollergirl/Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGES: Uniqlo U
NOTE: Some posts use affiliate links and PR samples. Please read my cookies policy here