Yves Saint Laurent’s well-worn truism, that “fashions fade but style is eternal”, has never been more apposite. Fashion whirls faster than ever before. Were a man so inclined, he could live his entire life travelling between fashion weeks in a blur of catwalks, as seasons bleed into resort and cruise collections and it seems as if clothes have barely been shown before they’re replicated on the high street, then discarded.
But trends are nothing without something stable to embed them within. As silhouettes and styles change, and those skinny cropped suits and deep V-neck tees slip to the back of your wardrobe (or, ideally, the nearest charity shop) your staples endure. The perfect slim-fit shirt, or the tee that sits against your skin just so, are impervious to fashion’s fickleness. They’re the foundation on which everything else rests, so they need to crafted with care. It’s this philosophy that informs Uniqlo’s LifeWear. The Japanese brand approaches its clothes with a spirit of progression, always striving for evolution, not revolution, improving the old so each new piece inches closer towards perfection. It’s an approach that produces items that reflect trends without being steered by them, that are versatile but never disposable. For Uniqlo, better is always the next step. And as we all know, better clothes make for better lives. As we say so often, get the basics right and everything will fall into place. You can be confident taking a punt on that statement overcoat, so long as you’ve got the perfect denim-and-crew-neck combo to wear it with. But key is picking pieces that are well built, that do a job well, and that punch above their price tag in form and function.
Luxury Feel, Affordable Price
Sometimes, you have to know when to cede to nature. No manmade fabric can touch cashmere and merino wool for their ability to control your body temperature, to battle heat and cold, and to look sublime in the process. But ordinarily, these superior materials come at a cost. That’s because cashmere and merino are hard to produce. The former is plucked from Mongolian goats, but is often cut with coarser fabrics to bulk it out, which means the finer hairs need separating in a laborious and time-consuming process. Merino, from the eponymous sheep, gets similar treatment; the finest fibres are polluted with thicker wools, which again need removing to ensure its soft feel against the skin. However, Uniqlo’s buying power – and dedication to quality – means that these premium materials now come with affordable price tags, turning a luxury commodity into something accessible to everyone. So you can deploy these versatile fabrics anywhere, from the cashmere roll neck that injects some individuality into your tailoring, to the merino sweater that keeps you snug on the weekend.
Sportswear For Everywhere
Sportswear has always been about solving problems, from wicking away moisture to dumping heat, keeping your body in prime condition to enhance its performance. And the recent transition of what you wear to the gym into what you wear to work is thanks to designers finally realising that comfort and style aren’t mutually exclusive. But even away from the track, technologies that improve athlete’s lives can have the same effect on yours. As anyone who’s attempted to navigate a commute in an overcoat can attest, dressing for frost outside means sweltering once you’re indoors. Leaving your forehead sprinkling by the time you hit your desk. Uniqlo’s solution to this perennial issue is to port sports fabrics into everyday underwear: the brand’s AIRism range is crafted from ultrafine fibres that absorb sweat and speed its evaporation. When you’re heading into your 15th mile that’s the kind of innovation that stops chafing, so you can power through to the finish line. Back at work, it means even when you misjudge the forecast and have a presentation to your boss first thing, you’ll keep your cool.
Warmth, Not Bulk
Any man who’s spotted snow outside and promptly adopted a Michelin Man costume knows the dangers of layering. Bulk and warmth are inseparable, right? You can’t stay toasty unless you bundle up. Not for Uniqlo. Deciding that winter deserved better than human marshmallows toddling around, the brand teamed up with textile manufacturer Toray to develop HEATTECH, a slimline fabric that traps warmth and ensures that you can keep your silhouette fitted without shivering. It’s testament to Uniqlo’s commitment to problem-solving that the HEATTECH available in stores is the 10,000th iteration – the preceding 9,999 deemed not quite good enough to become integral to your wardrobe. But there’s no laurel-resting. The retailer’s drive to hone what’s already excellent, to continue that push towards perfection, means that HEATTECH is still being developed to achieve more warmth with less padding. So now you can slip one under your shirt and suit jacket without ruining your perfectly tailored lines, and face even the bitterest mornings as though perched in front of a log fire.