When it comes to my wardrobe, there are few non-negotiables. Sure, I have the elaborate, ritzy and rather superfluous pieces I don’t really need but lust for – plume-trimmed sling backs and impractical micro bags – but there are the pieces I continue to buy over and over again; my right hand men (or women), my soldiers, my armour. These include a boxy-cut t-shirt in myriad colours (white and black obvious mandatories), fine woollen knits (for layering and beyond), a trench – arguably the greatest trans-seasonal piece of all time, and denim – because, denim. As I grow older, wiser, and far more conscious as a consumer, my palette for such things has changed. I now seek comfort, which, alarmingly may be a sign of old age, but I believe in fact this comes down to a matter of shifting cultural habits; our exhaustive, relentless work lives conducive to comfort-dressing (the rise of athleisure is the perfect example of this). We work longer, we work harder, we work faster. We want clothes that exist to make your life easier, not more extravagant. And no one quite does this like UNIQLO.
The Japanese brand is much more than a fashion brand, it is a lifestyle. It creates simple, truly great pieces that fit seamlessly into our lives. It’s not fashion, it’s LifeWear. It doesn’t dictate style or create fad-driven trend pieces, rather, creates what you need and what you want. In an age so driven by gratuitous excess, their plight to strip back our wardrobe to the classic basics couldn’t be more timely. So what do we need?
We need pieces that fit our daily lifestyle. We need quality, we need function, we need affordability. We need versatility and we need inclusivity. Boxes that UNIQLO proudly ticks. When I bought my first UNIQLO Extra Fine Merino Wool Turtleneck in buttercream, I pondered. How had I gone a day without this? I was wearing it layered underneath checked blazers, snake-print midi dresses and long-line coats. I would wear it solo – the star – with a pair of high-waisted white denim jeans, but even when playing a secondary role it is still one of my go-to essentials. It goes with everything, items that were already pre-existing in my wardrobe and had no initial dalliance – not even in my mind – of shacking up. The same applies for my t-shirt collection. I first bought the UNIQLO Ribbed T-Shirt in crisp white. A rich mocha soon followed. Then beige. Then black. And my most recent purchase was a delicious lemony yellow. And for the days when form-fitting styles are not my friend, a boxy U T-Shirt from the UNIQLO boys range – which I too have in a multitude of colours.
With the current state of fashion so fixated on standing out, it’s both rare and refreshing to see a brand with the intention to blend in. But when a product is so good, it doesn’t need to be overt, its quality does the talking (or wearing). Its famed wool, for example, is not only attributed to high quality of the yarn, but the teams of master craftsmen, known as Takumi, who regularly visit partner factories to help build technical expertise and ensure thorough quality management. It’s this traditional Japanese skill and precision passed through generations that shapes your cloud-like Cashmere jumpers, or fluffy Lambs Wool knits into pieces that last.
For UNIQLO, form always follows function, but that doesn’t mean it also isn’t chic. The next Fall/Winter collection dropping in Australia is the Christophe Lemaire-led U; a beautiful composite of progressive, sophisticated basics which reiterate exactly what LifeWear is all about. It’s about refined essentials that remain stylish in diverse situations. It’s about the wearer dictating their style, and not the piece dictating them. Just like my roll-neck jumper, which has played out so successfully in so many varying situations, clothing really should just be a way of life. And UNIQLO is changing conventional fashion wisdom one Ultra Light Down Jacket, one Airism T-Shirt and one HEATTECH Top at a time. Clothes to live by – and live in.