Ever since Karl Lagerfeld started a riot with his 2004 collection for H&M, high street brands have scrambled to tap high-end collaborators. It’s no understatement to say that Christophe Lemaire’s two collections for Uniqlo, for AW15 and SS16, were among the genre’s best; masterclasses in the kind of functional, minimalist clothes that quickly become the most loved elements of your wardrobe. It seems both parties agreed; this year, Lemaire signed on as artistic director of Uniqlo U, the Japanese giant’s new line of luxed-up basics.
It’s a collaboration that celebrates a shared aesthetic: the everyday can be beautiful if it’s designed and crafted with care. At the announcement in July, Lemaire encapsulated the range with a quote from Charles and Ray Eames: “The best for the most for the least.” He can consider that brief filled.
Blocktech Parka (£89.90)
You could root through charity shops for the precise parka to set off your terrace casuals look. Or you could buy this perfect, brand new version, in goes-with-anything grey, cut from Uniqlo’s wind- and rain-repellent Blocktech fabric. If you want to actually stay warm and dry this winter.
Lightweight Down Jacket (£89.90)
Let us give thanks for the fact that Uniqlo’s supply chain power means you can get a down jacket that’s as snug as a duvet, designed by Hermès’ former artistic director, for less than a Supreme hoodie. (For all you slim types, the womenswear line has a dropped hem version that looks like what Arsène Wenger would wear if he worked for Kanye.)
MA-1 Blouson (£59.90)
Meet the jacket you’ll live in until May. The boxy body eats up layers and the cropped hem is the perfect foil to those wide-leg trousers you’ve been meaning to try. Its satiny sheen also plays well with winter’s heavy fabrics, so you can rock the tonal thing without looking flat.
Work Jacket (£59.90)
Pockets are this season’s best accessory, popping up everywhere from safari coats to cargo trousers. Lemaire gives you four, in heavy wool that will keep the weather out when it’s foul, but which is unlined so you can pair with just a tee when it’s not. Too generous.
Long Sleeve Sweat Pull Over Hoodie (£29.95)
Two things make this your new favourite off-duty piece: heavy-gauge cotton, which feels warmer and more luxurious than the price tag; and a slimmer, shorter shape. So you can slot it under a bomber, a work jacket, even your more relaxed suits. Sorry, stained university hoodie.
Long Sleeve Rugby Shirt (£24.90)
Streetwear brands have embraced the rugby shirt as a canvas for logos, but plain takes are still undervalued as winter layering pieces. Either button up beneath an overcoat for a more rugged take on the air tie, or leave the neck open with a roll neck bursting through, as two fingers to the first day of frost.
Cashmere Blend Turtle Neck Long Sleeve Sweater (£69.90)
On which note, Uniqlo finds yet another use for its incomprehensibly priced cashmere. The contrast between this roll neck’s smooth body and its ridged neck, cuff and hems dials up your textures to inject depth to any outfit. The kind of piece to base every winter outfit around.
Long Sleeve Crew Neck (£14.90)
As the days shorten, most men recoil from colour. But wise men dial down their shades, rather than evict them entirely. Jewel tones are the seasonal way to brighten up, particularly as a flash against neutral surrounds.
Extra Fine Cotton Broadcloth Long Sleeve Shirt (£29.90)
A man can never have enough white shirts. Particularly white shirts in a heavier, winter-ready broadcloth, cut slightly roomy so they drape beneath loose tailoring.
Regular Fit Corduroy Jeans (£29.90)
There are two types of corduroy: the wide-waled, moth-chewed kind worn by professors who never quite earned tenure; and the pinwaled, velvet soft kind that men like Wes Anderson know makes everyone want to touch you. Want to guess which this is?
Christophe Lemaire’s Uniqlo U collection arrives instore and at uniqlo.com on 30 September