TOKYO — Since establishing his label Undercover nearly two decades ago, Jun Takahashi has been at the forefront of Japanese street fashion, expanding its unique aesthetic to the U.S. and Europe.
Now he has taken on an entirely new — and some might say unexpected — challenge: He has teamed up with fast-fashion giant Uniqlo to design a line of family-oriented apparel called UU. The line will go on sale Friday to coincide with the opening of Uniqlo’s latest and largest store yet, in Tokyo’s Ginza district.
At first glance, the inaugural UU collection seems to have little in common with the deconstructed streetwear for which Takahashi is known. UU’s key pieces include casual cotton dresses, patterned shorts, chino-type pants and cardigans for men, women, children and babies. Prices range from about 790 yen, or $9.65, to 7,990 yen, or $97.60.
Takahashi spoke to WWD ahead of the line’s launch.
WWD: Why did you decide to collaborate with Uniqlo on this new clothing line? Jun Takahashi: Uniqlo contacted me regarding a possible collaboration around two years ago. We mutually thought it would be interesting to work together, and we were able to find an area that we were both interested to collaborate on. And that area was the theme of “family.” I thought that if it’s this theme, and if it would have a focus and direction on affordable pricing, then I could achieve it. In the past we at Undercover had not been able to offer children’s clothing at affordable prices, and I believe that children’s clothing must be affordable, so I was happy to have been approached by Uniqlo about such a possible collaboration.
WWD: What was it like working with the team at Uniqlo? How was this similar to or different from other collaborations you have done, such as with Nike? J.T.: Cost always poses a variety of limitations. It was challenging to work within such limitations as costs, but at the same time, making the cost cheaper and offering clothes at a lower retail price was one of the main purposes of our collaborative project.
WWD: What are a few of your favorite pieces from this collection? J.T.: I really like the biker’s jacket made from a fabric that resembles leather. I designed this item to be worn by a father and son, as a pair. I think the overall concept and the design of this piece is very “Undercover-like.”
WWD: How significant is this collaboration to the strategic development of your brand? Do you think it will help you broaden your customer base? J.T.: I hope people who do not know Undercover will get to know me better and to learn more about my vision and creativity through this new line. The UU line will launch at the time of the new Uniqlo Ginza store opening, so even though I cannot comment yet on its sales success, I am aware that the reaction to the announcement has been positive worldwide.
WWD: You have taken a few seasons off from the Paris show calendar. Do you think you will return to the runway anytime soon? Why or why not? J.T.: The main reason why I am not present is because I do not feel that announcing new designs, or a new collection, by way of runway shows is the approach that matches my creativity. My character and personality is such that the things I want to do, or the way I choose of showing my designs constantly changes, so I may return one day in the future….you never know.
WWD: What is your view of the Japanese fashion scene these days? Are you impressed by the young designers coming up through the ranks? J.T.: Oh, I’m not really in a position to comment.…[laughs]. Please ask your question to one of the fashion critics.
WWD: What about Japanese consumers and their attitudes and habits? How have they changed since you got your start in 1993? J.T.: I think today the overall situation, both economically and politically, is not good. It’s not at all comparable to the overall situation when I first started out in the industry. But there are many people here in Japan who wish to express themselves via fashion, so I believe there are still plenty of opportunities for designers.
London’s newly opened @designmuseum will look back on the life and work of Azzedine Alaïa in a show that the designer helped to curate before he died of heart failure last month. The retrospective, which Alaïa had worked on with Mark Wilson, chief curator of the @groningermuseum, will look at the impact of his work worldwide. The show, “Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier,” will run from May 10 to October 7. Read more about the exhibit on WWD.com #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @zefashioninsider)
@Pharrell and his wife Helen Lasichanh were among the stars that came out to celebrate @rimowa’s first pop-up concept shop. The space, which is located on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, draws inspiration from airport luggage carousels and lounge areas – and features the company’s luggage and accessories. If the pop-up is successful it could pave the way for addition temporary shops throughout the world. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA)
@carineroitfeld celebrated @crfashionbook’s first calendar last night with a dinner party at Spring Place in Manhattan. Photographed by @stevenkleinstudio, the calendar takes on a fitness theme and features @joansmalls, @gigihadid, @danielle_herrington_ – pictured here – and more. “[Carine Roitfeld] wanted me to feel sexy and she wanted me to be myself and feel it out on my own and do what I felt was right,” said Herrington, aka Miss October. #wwdeye
@saintrecords and @virgilabloh last night at @americanexpress’ “A Night With Success Makers” event. “I always bring it back to community because without that I wouldn’t have the courage,” said Knowles when asked how she has gotten where she is now. Read more highlights from their conversation on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @lizdoupnik)
This Just In: Industry sources have told WWD that Anastasia Soare is rumored to be considering selling her beauty business, @anastasiabeverlyhills. According to those sources, Soare has tapped investment bank Imperial Capital to explore sale options for her eponymous beauty brand –– and with at least $340 million in net sales, this would be a big deal. Put in context of other recent transactions for makeup companies, Soare’s price tag could be in the billions if she were to sell the whole thing. #wwdnews #wwdbeauty (📷: @clint_spaulding)
@assouline’s latest book, “The Spirit of Bentley: Be Extraordinary” captures the adventurous attitudes and opulent lifestyles of @bentleymotors’ most creative owners and enthusiasts throughout the U.K. The 292-page hardcover has a section dedicated to showing its team of skilled artisans and photos of its most colorful owners, from George Bamford to designer @alicetemperley, pictured here by Aline Coquelle. #wwdeye
@google released its report on the most popular search terms this year. For fashion brands, the list was led by @gucci, the luxury brand that stunned the market last October when it pledged to stop using fur. Runner ups were @supremenewyork and @fashionnova, along with more established brands like @louisvuitton, @chanelofficial and @ysl. #wwdfashion (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
In yet another fashion show shuffle, @elleryland is moving its show in sync with the Paris couture calendar — though the brand is still keeping one foot on the city’s ready-to-wear schedule. Their runway show in January will coincide with the launch of a new strategy: designing two main collections each year instead of four, which will then be released in four drops. “As we all know, the system needs to change. We need to show sooner to give time back to artisans and designers to do what they do best — create,” said founder Kym Ellery. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
@maxmara’s classic 101801 coat was the cornerstone of its pre-fall 2018 collection. The design team expanded the traditional double-breasted, kimono-sleeved style into a trapeze coat, lean belted styles and a peacoat and presented them in monochromatic looks – like the camel one pictured here. #wwdfashion #prefall18 (📷: George Chinsee)