Designed
for Us

  • Illustrations by Renée Gouin Photography by Mai Kise
  • Styling by Naoki Ikeda Text by UNIQLO

Truly beautiful design goes beyond superb functionality.
How can innerwear, so closely tied with our emotions,
be improved so that it better supports women’s lives?

From UNIQLO’s first collection in collaboration with Mame Kurogouchi. The gentle curves are a Kurogouchi trademark.
Beiges and browns inspired by the strata of the earth were designed to complement a variety of skin tones.

  • 3D Knit Ribbed Long Sleeve Sweater
  • Plunging Wireless Bra (Uniqlo and Mame Kurogouchi)

Because innerwear goes mostly unseen, people make their choices purely based on what they like.

This could mean comfort, or that an item brightens up your mood, or meshes with your way of life. What sets innerwear apart from all other clothes is that it isn’t made for a specific time or place or setting, but to help you be yourself and give you strength.

Thanks to the latest technology, new options are available to help women feel free and in control, on average days as well as when their cycle comes around. During times of transition when the body weathers massive changes, like the growing pains of childhood, pregnancy and childbirth, or illnesses and injuries, women seek out sources of encouragement, making innerwear the most essential piece of LifeWear.

What’s the ideal balance of design and functionality? For answers, we consulted Maiko Kurogouchi, the designer behind Mame Kurogouchi, which partnered with UNIQLO on our first innerwear collaboration.

From UNIQLO’s first collection in collaboration with Mame Kurogouchi. The gentle curves are a Kurogouchi trademark.
Beiges and browns inspired by the strata of the earth were designed to complement a variety of skin tones.

  • 3D Knit Ribbed Long Sleeve Sweater
  • Plunging Wireless Bra (Uniqlo and Mame Kurogouchi)

The Lines Make All the Difference

“Do you have a pen?”

Flipping over a piece of paper, Maiko Kurogouchi began to make a sketch. I had just asked her what had made her want to become a designer. In a matter of seconds, I could see a sweetheart neckline forming on the paper. All eyes in the room were following her pen, but when she reached the center of the chest that she had drawn, her hand froze.

“When I was a kid, I always got nervous drawing this part. But this line makes all the difference,” she said, giving the paper a serious look, then drew a line up from the center of the décolletage. In an instant, what had been a flat sketch of a dress came to life, expressing the curved chest in three dimensions.

Bodies are made of curves. That’s why the best designs work with the true shape of the body. The key to making underwear is in creating lines that follow the body as closely as possible. Kurogouchi pointed at the line she’d drawn and laughed. “You know, by becoming a designer, I’ve basically made a living out of drawing this one line. It runs through everything I’ve done so far, my whole career in underwear.”

Debuting with the 2011 Spring & Summer season, Mame Kurogouchi has been helping women make it through the twists and turns of daily life by giving them a little boost through dignified, elegant designs. Since its seventh year, the brand has been showing work at Paris Fashion Week. Thoughtful to the tiniest detail, from the feel of the fabric and the drape of the cloth to delicate embroideries and patterns, these clothes highlight the individuality and beauty of the person who wears them.

Meanwhile, the collaborations with UNIQLO cut back on ornamentation, focusing on simpler patterns. In Kurogouchi’s view, innerwear should have the capacity to make the basic items we rely on every day start to feel special.

“Innerwear is the closest thing to the skin, which means the basics need to be thoroughly reliable. From there, you can add expression through fabrics and clothes. The challenge is to make something that can maximize the potential of all the clothes sitting in your closet. I believe that it’s incredibly important for fashion to be uplifting, not only becauseof how it functions, but also because of its design.”

In the courtyard of the studios of Mame Kurogouchi. “My designs come from an incredibly personal place, inspired by the beauty that I see on trips, or in novels, and even in the daily life, like this,” Kurogouchi says, under the cool shade of the trees.

In the courtyard of the studios of Mame Kurogouchi. “My designs come from an incredibly personal place, inspired by the beauty that I see on trips, or in novels, and even in the daily life, like this,” Kurogouchi says, under the cool shade of the trees.

Maiko Kurogouchi

Designer

Founded Mame Kurogouchi in 2010. Her creations have garnered praise throughout Japan and the world for blending innovative materials with traditional techniques, and for the softness of their contours. Designed to enrich the smallest moments in everyday life for each and every woman, her clothes have won the hearts of many.

Basics that Conform to
Every Stage of Life

Maiko Kurogouchi has described making underwear for UNIQLO as “like carving a statue.” Rather than starting from the outside with an image, as when designing outerwear, the work takes shape by following the lines of the body. Unfussy touches that accentuate the lushness of the skin combine with functionality for everyday comfort. At the core is beauty in its most essential form, free of excess. But in the words of one of the innerwear designers at UNIQLO, “The process might be closer to industrial design than it is for other clothes.” By striving for beautiful functionality, innerwear can serve as both an everyday basic and a key source of support while getting through life’s big changes. When a person stands in front of a mirror and sees themselves wearing the innerwear, the look and feel of the design should be a source of relief.

“Clothes that work for me and my body.” This phrase sums up the history of innerwear for women at UNIQLO. But twenty or so years ago, when UNIQLO was developing its innerwear project, there was no team specifically devoted to innerwear for women. Then women at the company found store displays piled with underwear that clearly lacked an understanding of what women required. “Let’s make something that we would actually want to wear,” they said, and took initiative. While considering the demands of the times, they searched for an ideal innerwear they would actually want to wear themselves, one that took shape around a healthy lifestyle. They were seeking a level of functionality that enables an effortless lifestyle, like not having to wear a bra even on workdays. This idea came to life with the release of our simple molded bra in 2005, followed by the bra top and wireless bra, which deepened our understanding of what it means for clothes to work for women, at every stage of life. Two years later, we followed up by developing the wireless bra, and in the process we deepened our understanding of what it means for clothes to work for women, at every stage of life.

As girls approach their teens and their bodies start to change, innerwear with a two-layer chest is much more comfortable than a bra. The abrupt changes in figure brought about by childbirth require their own special attention as well. Late in pregnancy, maternity wear protects the belly without constrictions, helping you stay fashionable. And if you’ve had surgery for breast cancer, it’s helpful to have innerwear that opens in the front, allowing easy access for the arms and simple adjustment of the shape of the bust through the addition of pads to different areas. Before we knew it, we were carrying items that supported women not only day to day but through every stage of life, from birth into adulthood.

Our goal is not to make something for special occasions, but clothing that supports women through the little changes that accompany daily life. Because these little boosts eventually add up, giving us the courage that we need to live our lives.

1. Maternity leggings and jeans have an extra-stretchy waist, for a comfy fit all the way through pregnancy. They pair well with bra tops. 2. Front open innerwear is easy to use after breast cancer surgery.

  • 1. (L→R)
  • W’s HEATTECH Bra Sleeveless Top
  • W’s Maternity Ribbed Leggings
  • W’s Maternity Ultra Stretch Jeans
  • 2. (L→R)
  • W’s AIRism Front Open Bra
  • W’s Cotton Front Open Bra
  • W’s AIRism Front Open Long Sleeve T-Shirt
  • W’s Cotton Front Open Scoop Neck Long Sleeve T-Shirt

A Life-Changing New Option

When thinking about clothes for women, one scenario cannot be overlooked: the start of the monthly menstrual cycle. Thanks to technological developments, things that could not previously be done to make these seven days more manageable have become a reality. What if it were possible to go the whole day without having to think about your cycle? This fall, UNIQLO is releasing a life-changing new option.

But this kind of change doesn’t come overnight. Since these shorts are worn in direct contact with the skin, it’s imperative that they provide a sanitary experience, and crucial that whatever is worn over them does not get soiled. As our designers filled their sketchbooks with drawings and ran various prototypes through testing and inspection, we realized that by finishing the edges with a special bonding technique, we could eliminate the seams. This made it possible to prevent leaking without sacrificing softness, while simplifying the structure in the process. Following a year or so of research and development, we created a gusset with an absorbency of 30–40 ml (water), designed so that the wings of a sanitary pad can be folded under, ensuring a secure fit. The material in contact with the skin incorporates AIRism, giving it an incredibly fresh texture along with antimicrobial and deodorizing properties. The fact these shorts can be purchased at our stores all over the world as well as on our site, and for an affordable price, is only natural for an item so essential.

Industrial designer Sori Yanagi, who devoted his energies to creating truly useful items for our everyday lives, spoke of the “functional beauty” of such forms. This overlaps with the philosophy of LifeWear, as clothing that can improve life for everyone. The physical realities of the female experience have long been overlooked by cultures all over the world. Confronting these questions head-on, we’re working to eliminate the disadvantages, turning an idea into a physical reality through new technology and designs.

1. Four colors of the absorbent shorts can be matched with 3D Hold Wireless Bra. Waterproof area extends up to the back of the waist. 2. In developing the absorbent panel of the shorts, we went through dozens of prototypes to determine what textile would strike the perfect balance between absorbency and comfort. 3. Designers worked out their ideas for the pattern and construction using sketchbooks like this one.

1. Four colors of the absorbent shorts can be matched with 3D Hold Wireless Bra. Waterproof area extends up to the back of the waist. 2. In developing the absorbent panel of the shorts, we went through dozens of prototypes to determine what textile would strike the perfect balance between absorbency and comfort. 3. Designers worked out their ideas for the pattern and construction using sketchbooks like this one.

  • W’s Wireless Bra (3D Hold)
  • W’s AIRism Absorbent Sanitary Shorts

Editor’s Note

Choosing a Future Together

  • (both)
  • W’s Relaxed Long Sleeve Sweatshirt
  • W’s Smooth Cotton Shirttail Hem Long Sleeve T-shirt
  • W’s AIRism UV Protection Soft Leggings
  • Knit Lace-Up Sneakers

“On the way home from our graduation ceremony, I decided to apply on a whim, I guess to broaden my horizons,” says Sanika, laughing. This past April, she and her partner Minori, smiling beside her, appeared in a commercial for UNIQLO centering on the themes of “life” and “wear” that depicted the couple’s everyday experience.

While attending Japan Women’s College of Physical Education, both had leadership positions on the cheerleading team, which has competed at the global level. Last year, the global tournament which they had hoped to be the culmination of their efforts was canceled due to the pandemic, to their great dismay. Minori, who was the captain of the team, was especially discouraged by what she called “the endless loop” of empty days.

But her way out was sitting right beside her. “Sanika is not only my best friend. She accepts me exactly the way I am. When I looked more closely at our everyday lives, I realized that she’s irreplaceable.” Dancing doesn’t happen on its own. It happens for an audience. This involves a consciousness of those around you. The support of their team and the extensive guidance of their coaches have given them a huge boost.

Minori has set the goal of joining an NBA cheerleading team. Sanika has encouraged her to take on all kinds of challenges, including our commercial. “I want to be a spokesperson for love,” she says. These days, she’s polishing a different set of skills, as a performer. You can tell from their bright expressions, and the way their eyes are set on the future, that these two have strong hearts.

  • (both)
  • W’s Relaxed Long Sleeve Sweatshirt
  • W’s Smooth Cotton Shirttail Hem Long Sleeve T-shirt
  • W’s AIRism UV Protection Soft Leggings
  • Knit Lace-Up Sneakers

Minori and Sanika

Dancers

Both graduated in March 2021 from Japan Women’s College of Physical Education, where they were captain and vice captain of GRINS, a songleading team that represented Japan at the 2020 ICU World Cheerleading Championships. Through their commercial for UNIQLO, they say that they were able to express themselves the way they are in everyday life.

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