H&M’s high profile pairing with Olivier Rousteing and his Balmain Army may have grabbed the headlines, but for those who eschew ostentation, there’s only one collaboration that really matters this season: Uniqlo and Christophe Lemaire.
Following excursions in minimalism with the likes of Jil Sander and Helmut Lang, your one-stop shop for affordable basics is teaming up with the ascendant menswear designer for a range of high-end staples with high street price tags.
A former Hermès designer, Lemaire is now helming his own eponymous label and has crafted a capsule of slick basics, to help inject your wardrobe with a dose of Tommy Ton-baiting nowness without bruising your wallet. Here’s our pick of the pieces worth camping out for.
Wool And Cashmere Coat (£149.90)
Chills become more welcome if it means the opportunity to break out your statement outerwear, and this shawl-collared coat will having you praying for frost. Oversized overcoats are trending hard for AW15 and the Uniqlo take differs little from Lemaire’s mainline version, other than ditching the pockets – which, alongside the concealed placket, keeps the silhouette minimal – and the hit to your bank balance.
Team with a monochrome roll neck to come over all continental intellectual, or pair with a hoody, stacked denim and hi-tops for a Yeezy-approved take on high-low dressing.
Cashmere Roll Neck Long-Sleeved Sweater (£129.90)
This roll neck might seem pricey compared to the rest of the collection, but for cashmere, it’s a steal. Unlike the form-fitting versions that normally line Uniqlo’s shelves, Lemaire’s opted for a roomier cut that hangs slightly looser, making it ideal for layering beneath a double-breasted jacket when you want to switch up your usual office attire.
Or just couple it with the cashmere coat above for the luxury way to combat the chill.
Wool-Blended Elasticated Pants (£69.90)
Offering a modern spin on a dated look, Lemaire takes the pleats favoured by your granddad and resurrects them courtesy of a sportier elasticated waist and the kind of tapered leg shape that gives you room up top, without the indignity of fabric billowing around your calves. Recognition that your gym membership makes fitting into anything slim-cut a challenge to its seams.
Keep the rest of your outfit loose-fitting for balance. Pair with a tailored jacket in a contrast colour and white Stan Smiths for a nine-to-five look you can take straight to the club.
Convertible Collar Long-Sleeved Shirt (£29.90)
Perhaps the Cuban collar’s presence on SS15 runways was a nod to the island’s thawing relationship with the US. Or perhaps it’s just because its shape draws the eye down your torso, creating the illusion of an athletic physique even if you only ever pair your sportswear with an overcoat.
This convertible collar shirt isn’t as drastic as the full Cuban, so it’s an easier dip into a new shirting shape. Since it can be left down or fastened up, it’s more autumn-appropriate too, especially with sleeves that hit your wrist, not your triceps.
Wear it with tailoring for a smarter way to ditch the tie on dress-down Friday.
Sweat Pullover & Sweatpants (£24.90 And £29.90)
If you’re still not sure that a matching sweater and jogging bottoms combination is an appropriate off-duty pairing, then perhaps Lemaire’s take – which is more front row than rowing machine – will convince you that you don’t have to be on the way to the gym to dress like it.
The sweatpants, as you’d expect, are cut slim and tapered, with elasticated cuffs designed for showcasing your kicks. But it’s the sweat pullover that will catch eyes, with a rugby shirt-style collar and low chest pocket that keep your look out of the sports hall.