It’s been almost three years since the Japanese high street giant announced a partnership with a Northern Irish design legend that changed the affordable fashion game for good. Instead of your typical one-off collab, consisting of a few printed tees and maybe a branded tote bag, which was forgotten even before it hit the stores, the two worlds have collided in a controlled yet inspiring way. It didn’t only add cool points to Uniqlo’s establishment but also allowed for JW Anderson to enter the style consciousness of more people than it ever could otherwise. As a luxury brand predominantly talking to a very fashion-oriented, London-centric customer, being able to interpret wardrobe staples in its signature, intellectual way and reach 24 countries worldwide proves for a win-win situation. 

There’s also the fact that Uniqlo plays a big part in Anderson’s personal life as he’s been vocal about loving, buying and wearing the brand on a daily basis. “It’s a brand and product I trust and understand. The high street is a very confusing place right now and what Uniqlo has done incredibly well is that they do what they do best. They keep it very simple, very well made, the materials always have a good substance to them,” Anderson told us at the special press preview of the latest collection earlier today. 

Six seasons later and it’s time for the Uniqlo x JW Anderson’s SS20 collection, launching in stores and online this coming Thursday. Aesthetically themed around “British country style,” this outing is the most expansive one yet, ranging across menswear, womenswear and, for the first time, childrenswear. The 12 kids’ pieces are recreations of the standouts from the adult selection, in what Anderson described as his brand’s interpretation of an image of complete family, inspired by looking at early photographs of Diane Arbus and the idea of duplication. “My brother also just had a baby so it made sense,” he says, adding how “everything small is always very cute.”

When it comes to his own highlights, the designer points out gingham, a textile mostly synonymous with picnic blankets you’ll find in your local park during summer, particularly when interpreted in a denim twinset on the womenswear side. As for the menswear, he singles out a set of three Classic Oxford shirts in white, blue and pink, along with the activewear nylon trousers and the collab’s first pair of sandals, available in both men’s and women’s sizes. 

While talking us through the SS20 collection, Anderson made it clear this partnership is an extension of his personal brand, as a diffusion line of brand staples that can easily be incorporated with the rest of his creative outputs. “Today, especially with all the work I’m doing at the moment, it has to be projects that speak to me and not just collaboration for collaboration’s sake. What I do here is very different from what I do at Loewe and from Loewe, it’s very different to what I do with Moncler… These things are very different parts of the market,” he explains. Part of the success here and a thing that makes it unique in the sea of fashion collabs is the longevity of the garments which come as an outcome of a decelerated design process. “It has to be a slow progress unlike the fashion shows,” says Anderson, pointing out how, in contrast to his catwalk collections, this one requires a continuation of the ideas and a steady incline. “This all has to turn into a reality and that’s why I enjoy it – it uses a different part of my brain,” exclaims Anderson, crediting his early work as creative director of Sunspel as formative in developing ideas of classicism and hybrids. Simultaneously responsible, thought-out and chic – shopping on the high street never felt this good…

The SS20 Uniqlo x JW Anderson collection is launching on Thursday, March 12th in selected Uniqlo stores and online. Photographs courtesy of Uniqlo.

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