UNIQLO’S FACES: Susan Sarandon is better known for her string of Oscar nominations, political activism and newfound evangelical fervor for ping-pong than her fashion sensibilities. But it’s those singular qualities that drew Japan-based Uniqlo to tap her as one of the faces of its new fall campaign.
The ads break this week and herald the New York openings of Uniqlo’s two largest flagships in the world: an 89,000-square-foot store on Fifth Avenue that bows on Oct. 14 and a 64,000-square-foot store on 34th Street that opens on Oct. 21.
The ads feature more than 30 disparate personalities, including Sarandon, Laura Linney, John Leguizamo, “Glee” heartthrob Darren Criss, jazz musician Esperanza Spalding (who won the Grammy this year for Best New Artist), Tumblr founder David Karp and teacher Gregg Breinberg, who is the music director of the YouTube-beloved P.S. 22 chorus.
The diverse cast is meant to underscore Uniqlo’s “Made for All” philosophy and convey a message of inclusion. “Through the ‘Voices of New York’ cast we would like to show that individuality is not found in clothing but in people,” said Shin Odake, chief executive officer of Uniqlo USA of the campaign, which will appear in print, billboards, taxi tops and in the New York subway system.
“I like the simplicity and quality of the clothing — and the colors and the prices,” said Sarandon of Uniqlo, during an interview at Pier 59 Studios, where she was photographed for the campaign last week. “I think their customer service and the way they approach the brand and treat their people is really honorable. I was flattered when they asked me to do it.”
Sarandon, 64, rattled off a roster of legends when asked what projects she’s working on. “I’m doing a tiny thing for [Robert] Redford with Julie Christie in a couple weeks,” she said of the upcoming film, ‘The Company You Keep,’ which is centered on the Weather Underground radicals of the Seventies. “And I just did a movie with Richard Gere called ‘Arbitrage’ and a movie called ‘The Wedding’ with Robert DeNiro, Diane Keaton, Katherine Heigl and Amanda Seyfried.”
She also has a role in the new Wachowski siblings’ film, “Cloud Atlas,” which begins filming next month. “I drop in for a few weeks here and there. It’s nice not to have to carry the entire movie,” Sarandon said of her recent supporting work.
The actress will play another supporting role when her daughter, actress Eva Amurri, marries in November. “I got a van and all her friends and we went around and looked at lots of different dresses. She’s tall and has a perfect body so everything looked beautiful, which in some ways made it even harder to choose,” said Sarandon.
Earlier this summer, she visited the Chinese hometown of designer Han Feng, a longtime friend, and next week will attend the Lela Rose fashion show. “I like to have fun dressing up. I hold onto things. All my Azzedine Alaïa from years ago I still have,” said Sarandon of her relationship with fashion. “Donna Karan and Diane von Furstenberg are old, old friends. Dolce & Gabbana have always been very generous and they have those great Fifties silhouettes that are great if you have breasts. Donna always designs for women with curves in mind. Sometimes designers don’t take breasts into account and there’s no room for them.”