Interview with Christophe Lemaire

Interview with Christophe Lemaire

This is the most concise Uniqlo U collection to date. Can you tell us why?

We are aiming to make and distribute only what's necessary, by having less pieces. A more concise collection pushes us to rethink function in our daily lives, and our new habits, to redefine our needs. It's an interesting exercise. We think a lot about the concept of a refined wardrobe: each piece should have a very precise function, being of use on its own but also working together by layering to create new functions.

Why was a reduced emphasis on gender so important to you this season?

It came from observing people around us. It feels like a natural evolution of how we and the people around us dress. We see the garment as an open invitation. It's more about personality and how an individual will interpret and integrate the garment into their wardrobe than it is about gender. The codes of how we are supposed to dress are not as rigid as they once were. Now we can see people becoming very free and creative with their use of garments. It is a natural step in how we conceive the collection.

The idea of a new take on minimalism is a concept you are constantly refining. How did that take shape this season?

We try to be straightforward, with an emphasis on how the piece is cut and how the fabric behaves, to create a simple, high quality collection with a practical sense of beauty and refined colour palette. To go straight to the function influences the cuts and details, and it allows for the garment to be versatile; taking on a different role in different looks, for different settings or occasions. The more versatile a garment is, the more timeless it will be. We try to create clothes that people of all ages, social backgrounds, countries, and regions can understand and adapt to make their own. Pieces that can last for a long time.

Which piece defines the spirit of this collection?

The pocketable long coat; because it's so functional, practical, and versatile. It can be worn in so many ways by everybody, no matter their age or gender.

How did you and the Paris research and development centre design team develop this season's colour palette?

Rich and refined neutrals are in the Uniqlo U DNA. Defining the colour palette always starts with an instinctive desire for certain tones and colours, fed by artists or photography exhibitions, movies, art books, and people in the streets. Then it's about finding the right shade, the right combinations of colours, to achieve a palette that feels easy and desirable, but also new and exciting.

Many of the pieces in this collection are cut-and-sewn. Can you explain this concept and why you favour it?

Naturally, there has been an evolutionary shift in the way we dress. The T-shirt is one of the most universal pieces one could own and it's a wardrobe essential for every one of us. At Uniqlo U, cut-and-sewn garments allow us to be bolder and more playful with colours. As designers, we can step outside of our comfort zone and try out new things.