“Clothing as a common language” is the guiding principle behind a collection launched today by Japanese brands Uniqlo and White Mountaineering — and its focus is uniquely on family and building on outerwear designs “for all” with fleecy fall items for men, women and children.
The “Uniqlo and White Mountaineering” collection, now available in Uniqlo stores and on its website, underscores the “outdoor essence” of White Mountaineering, an outerwear brand, alongside Uniqlo’s outerwear and fleece product categories that are perennial picks for the retailer.
Merging the Uniqlo LifeWear philosophy, “clothes made for all,” and White Mountaineering’s family-oriented fashion, the collection offers roomy silhouettes and a muted color palette that can be worn for a variety of occasions, the brands said. The collection features oversized parkas and fleece jackets for men’s, women’s and children’s.
Yosuke Aizawa, founder and designer at White Mountaineering, said: “I gave a lot of thought to my ideals as a designer and how to utilize the detailing for outdoor items and sportswear I’d developed at White Mountaineering for Uniqlo wear, which is worn by all sorts of people.”
“Designing clothing around the premise that ‘people move’ is one of my principles, so I carefully considered patterns and designs that wouldn’t add stress when worn. I believe we’ve created a line of new everyday wear that can be worn in any setting.”
Here, Aizawa talks to WWD about its collaboration with Uniqlo, differentiation in the market, and standout pieces in its collection.
WWD: What inspired the Uniqlo x White Mountaineering collaboration?
Yosuke Aizawa: Our collaboration was in part inspired by the connection I saw between our functional design philosophy at White Mountaineering and Uniqlo’s LifeWear philosophy of “clothes made for all.” I also saw many similarities between my technical approach to design and Uniqlo’s own technological innovations, many of which are present in the collection items. I believe we combined the best elements of White Mountaineering and Uniqlo in our collaboration: the collection’s theme is “outerwear created as a common language for everyone,” as in collaborating with Uniqlo we aimed to create outerwear items that can connect people beyond generation, race, or gender.
WWD: How is your design process differentiated amongst your peers? What do you do differently as a designer?
Y.A.: In addition to working in Daikanyama in Tokyo, I also have an atelier in the mountains of Nagano, and I think about design and creation while going back and forth between Tokyo and the mountains. Rather than spending time designing around a dress form or a drawing, I design based on the knowledge I gain from actual experience, and in this respect, I might say I am different from other designers.
WWD: Walk us through some of the standout pieces in the collection. Do you have any favorites? If so, why?
Y.A.: The Ultra Light Down Oversized Jacket is the one that I was most particular about making. Conventional Uniqlo Ultra Light Down jackets are made of a smooth, shiny material, but we have developed a material with a wrinkled finish that gives it a slightly crispy feel. I was very particular about the material. It is easy to wear, easy to move around in, as well as being packable.
I think the Fleece Oversized Long Sleeve Jacket is another item that gives you a sense of White Mountaineering’s style, in that it combines White Mountaineering’s military style and outdoor details. By using boa fleece for the body and sponge fleece for the sleeves, it looks as if it is layered, but it is also functional in that it allows for easy movement of the arms.
The Fleece Oversized Mock Neck Pullover shirt features a sponge fleece material, taking on a relaxed silhouette that is perfect for indoor- and outdoorwear, depending on how it is layered. Ribbons and large slits are also added to the hem as a design accent, providing style and functionality. The kids’ range also features a similar design, providing the ease of outfit coordination for mothers and their children.
WWD: What’s next for White Mountaineering?
Y.A.: I have been working with this taste and direction for 15 years, and now I feel a new link between what I have been doing and the current time. I would like to further emphasize the prevalence of functional clothing in fashion.
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