25 Years of Fleece

Looking Back on a Quarter-Century of Fleece

At first glance, this vintage fleece from the 1990s and our latest model look identical,
but there's a reason for the similarity.
This season marks twenty-five years of fleece for UNIQLO.
How has our standard design evolved?

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from 1994

The Classic

The industrial designer Dieter Rams has devoted a career to the creation of functional yet minimalist and beautiful designs. In his ten famous principles, Rams contends that good design: 1. Is innovative; 2. Makes a product useful; 3. Is aesthetic; 4. Makes a product understandable; 5. Is unobtrusive; 6. Is honest; 7. Is long-lasting; 8. Is thorough down to the last detail; 9. Is environmentally friendly; and 10. Involves as little design as possible.

Fleece took Japan by storm in 1998, most visibly in Harajuku. Side by side, our half-zip pullover from those days and our latest model, out this season, look essentially the same. The fact we haven’t seen the need to redo the design is clear proof that for the most part, it reached perfection twenty years ago. The microfleece is light, soft, and warm, while the piping provides added durability. The side pockets function as handwarmers, and the zipper can be adjusted depending on your choice of layers, working equally well with shirts and hoodies. The simplicity of the design accentuates its elegant functionality. No major changes, after all this time. We’re glad we’ve let this item be itself.

to 2019

The History is in the Details

While these two garments seem to have no major differences, if you tried both of them on, you’d notice something right away. Our proprietary sponge fleece has evolved over the years, moving toward a softer, finer pile. The piping at the cuffs hugs the wrists, keeping out the chilly air and making the sleeves easy to roll up. The side pockets have been angled slightly downward towards the center, to let the hands slip easily inside. In the 1997 model, the pockets were lined with mesh, whereas the latest model uses a napped fabric. Warmth, plain and simple. A thin interfacing in the collar keeps it looking sharp. Look more closely, though, and you'll find all sorts of little things have changed. Areas prone to wear and tear have been chainstitched, for added strength. The seams of the lining have been tidied up, to keep them from feeling scratchy against your skin. A ball-shaped zipper pull has been added to the zipper, making it a breeze to open, even when wearing gloves.

Without making themselves known, these details tell the living history of the garment, all the little tweaks that bring it ever closer to the ultimate design, enhancing both its functionality and its beauty. Twenty five years after it first appeared, our standards continue to evolve.

The Fleece Archives (~2018)

50 Colors Collection
(2000)

1. Part of the “50 Colors Collection” released in 2000, which as the name says included fifty different colors. Yumi Matsutoya wore this pink fleece for a UNIQLO commercial, briefly making it the color of the moment.

Bulky Fleece Vest
(2008)

2. Vest using a high pile, fluffy, voluminous fabric known as “bulky fleece,” giving the style an outdoorsy feel.

UU UNIQLO×UNDERCOVER
(2012)

3. Part of UNIQLO’s collaboration with<UNDERCOVER>, the brand of fashion designer Jun Takahashi. The collection also included fleece for women and children.

Outlast Fleece
(2004)

4. Full-zip fleece incorporating “Outlast” technology, a fabric treatment originally made for NASA. Developed to help astronauts during spacewalks, it releases heat when you’re warm and absorbs heat when you’re cold. This was cutting-edge technology in 2004.

Reversible Fleece
(2011)

5. Brilliant yellow on one side and gray on the other, this model is reversible.

MLB Collaboration
(2006)

6. From a collaboration with Major League Baseball. Pictured is the Boston Red Sox model, complete with a team patch. Other teams included the New York Yankees and the Chicago White Sox.

2019 Fall & Winter Fleece Collection

Uniqlo U
Fleece Shirt Jacket

1. Polar fleece, or fleece for short, is a soft pile fabric made from polyester. At first glance, this fabric may look like Melton wool, but being made from polyester, it can safely be called fleece.

Stretch Fleece Full-Zip
Long Sleeve Hoodie

2. Hoodie using smooth jersey fabric on the outside and sleek fleece material on the inside. Stretchability makes it well-suited for active use.

UNIQLO and Engineered Garments
Fleece Pullover

3. Collaboration with NYC brand Engineered Garments. Entering its second season, the collection presents four different styles of fleece, scheduled to launch in October.

W’s Pile Lined Fleece
Long Sleeve Pullover

4. Women’s pullover featuring boa fleece on the outside and cozy microfleece on the inside.

Fluffy Yarn Fleece
Full-Zip Vest

5. Vest utilizing high pile furry fleece with a soft texture.

UNIQLO and JW ANDERSON
Fleece Pullover

6. Part of our collaboration with British brand <JW ANDERSON>, scheduled to launch in October. The snaps and color block pattern have a classic outdoor look.

Photography by Yoshio Kato, Editing by Kyosuke Nitta

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