“I wanted to create something truly democratic” — j.w.anderson discusses his collaboration with uniqlo
British heritage meets Lifewear in a 33-piece collection that lands in stores this September.
This story was originally published by i-D UK.
With J.W.Anderson and Loewe offering menswear and womenswear, and his eponymous line offering pre and resort collections, Jonathan Anderson designs an eye-watering and awe-inspiring 10 collections a year. Despite being one of the industry's busiest creative directors and designers, he jumped at the opportunity to collaborate with Uniqlo. "Ever since I was a child, I can't stand being bored," he confessed in an interview with i-D back in 2015. "I love the adrenaline. Maybe in ten years I won't, but at the moment I'm really enjoying it, I love being challenged." Two years on and showing no signs of slowing-down, Jonathan's seemingly insatiable appetite for design challenges sees the Northern Ireland-born, London-based designer blend his unique aesthetic with the Japanese tech wizardry of Uniqlo.
The resulting line sees Jonathan reimagine British heritage classics by combining his signature bold, graphic and playful approach with Uniqlo's excellence in fabric fit and functionality. "I have probably been one of the biggest of consumers of Uniqlo for many years, it's all I wear," Jonathan confessed as he introduced the 33-piece collection. He wasn't paying lip service, from working in his studio through to taking his post-show bow, the designer is rarely seen in anything but his uniform of a Uniqlo white T-shirt and navy knit, vintage jeans and Converse.
"When Uniqlo approached me, it was a no brainer," he added with a smile. When pressed how he'd describe the collection in a few words, Jonathan quickly opted for "universal quirkiness" without missing a beat. Echoing his eponymous men's spring/summer 18 collection shown last month during Pitti, the garments are quieter than what we're used to seeing from a designer whose gender-fluid menswear offerings first put him on the fashion map some seven years ago, but there's a refined, confident duality throughout the 33-piece collection, as his own daydreams of British classics are fused with the everyday reality of the high street behemoth's LifeWear. The collection features Jonathan's playful take on everyday classics including button-down shirting, duffle coats, trench coats and down jackets that will please Uniqlo regulars while the considered use of padded tartan, oversized proportions, wrist ties and abstract prints will bring a smile to the faces of Jonathan's most devoted of fans.
"It's been an amazing project and the concept has enabled deeper understanding of my own brand, the idea of reducing British classics," Jonathan explained. "I've lived here all my life and I wanted to take the essence of what we know as iconography in British culture and I wanted to create something that is truly democratic. For me, there is no better partner because I believe in democracy in fashion. I hope that any age demographic can pick up and something within the collection to relate to."
"When we met with Jonathan last October, we asked him to create new heritage LifeWear clothing and he has made it," Yuki Katsuta, Head of Research and Design at Uniqlo, explained. "Everytime we ask ourselves what does clothing mean for Uniqlo and our answer is that clothes shouldn't have individuality but rather, customers who wear clothes should have individuality. This collection encourages people to show their individuality."
The autumn/winter 17 range comprises of 33 pieces for men and women and will roll out at Uniqlo stores and Uniqlo.com from 19 September.
Text Steve Salter
Photography Jamie Hawkesworth