Providing beautiful, practical, and sustainable clothing inspired by the needs of today and tomorrow, LifeWear is at the core of the Japanese clothing brand. Uniqlo operates on the idea that form follows function, and that everyone deserves quality fashion—a concept that played out through a number of installations featuring garments, technological innovations, artwork, capsule collections (such as one with JW Anderson), and more.
At the opening in London (which in 2007 saw the launch of the brand’s global flagship store), Uniqlo founder and chairman and president and CEO of Fast Retailing Tadashi Yanai said, “I wanted to create and sell top-quality clothing that would be affordable to all worldwide, incorporating fashion that would match the style preferences of wearers rather than simply following the latest trends.”
That has meant offering fine materials like cashmere and Supima cotton at an affordable price point, and embracing technology in popular lines like HEATTECH, AIRism, and Ultra Light Down. “Innovation comes from wanting to make people’s life better,” said creative director Rebekka Bay in London. Material choice, she said, comes from trying to improve and make everything more comfortable and easy to wear. That means she looks not only to natural fibers, but synthetic ones as well.
Which inevitably leads to the question of sustainability and the problem of fast fashion. “People often mistakenly believe that Uniqlo is a purveyor of fast fashion. But we never create ‘disposable’ clothing. Instead, we create timeless apparel that matches the lifestyles of each and every person,” said Yanai. “Our mission is to create clothes that are non-disposable, long-lasting, and which function as perfect components, providing the ultimate in everyday wear. That is our approach to sustainability.” He described LifeWear as a toolbox for lifestyle creation that is accessible to all—via over 1,500 stores worldwide, most recently Milan, Italy, and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
So how do you make clothes that are inspiring, or relevant, to a great number of people? John C. Jay, president of global creative at Uniqlo, asked this in London. He looks at mass appeal as a positive, saying that the key is to be both universal and singular. Encouraging individual expression, the Japanese powerhouse has collaborated with artists and cultural institutions like the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Lucasfilm, MoMA, and more. “We need everything, we need art, we need science, and the craftsmanship goes back to our Japanese DNA—hundreds and hundreds of years of history of textile craftsmanship . . . and decades of leadership in technology,” said Jay.
He continued that the brand is thinking about how you want to live your life, adding, “We are radical because we are made for all.”