The Science
of AIRism

  • Photography by Gottingham
  • Hair & Makeup by Yosuke Nakajima
  • Illustrations by Hiroaki Seto
  • Text by Satoko Hatakeyama
  • Special thanks to Tokujin Yoshioka

Keeping you comfortable 24 hours a day, 365 days a year—
to counter atmospheric changes of all kinds, AIRism is constantly evolving.
Here’s a look into the functionality and reliability that make AIRism such a joy to wear.

Weather Simulation Chamber, Basic Research Institute.This weather simulation chamber, located at the UNIQLO headquarter in Ariake, Tokyo, comprises a Room A imitating the outdoors and a Room B imitating the indoors. Room A has lamps emitting infrared and UV rays and can be set between -40°C and 60°C, while Room B can be set between -10°C and 60°C. Humidity can be set from 10% to 95%.

Weather Simulation Chamber,
Basic Research Institute.

Keeping you comfortable 24 hours a day, 365 days a year—
to counter atmospheric changes of all kinds, AIRism is constantly evolving.
Here’s a look into the functionality and reliability that make AIRism such a joy to wear.

This weather simulation chamber, located at the UNIQLO headquarter in Ariake, Tokyo, comprises a Room A imitating the outdoors and a Room B imitating the indoors. Room A has lamps emitting infrared and UV rays and can be set between -40°C and 60°C, while Room B can be set between -10°C and 60°C. Humidity can be set from 10% to 95%.

  • AIRism Cotton Oversized Crew Neck Half Sleeve T-Shirt (Uniqlo U)
    W’s Ultra Stretch Active Airy Running Shorts

Science Reinforces Trust

Founded as a special project at UNIQLO in 2017, the Basic Research Institute is a lab devoted to the scientific side of LifeWear, focusing primarily on biometrics and product functionality assessments. This weather simulation chamber is equipped to perform like no other in Japan, allowing us to test our clothing in a wide array of indoor and outdoor environments.
Using the infrared and UV lamps in the outdoor simulation room, we mimic the conditions of a summer day. This helps us gauge how well our products block UV rays as well as their thermal insulation capabilities. By analyzing data on an item’s surface temperature and interior humidity, we’re able to measure its comfort level in a variety of settings. Until now, we relied on sensory evaluations provided by test subjects who rated comfort level on a scale. The addition of scientific data increases the reliability of the functionalities that make a product comfortable.

AIRism debuted in 2012 as a line of innerwear, designed to make everybody feel more comfortable in their clothes. From the signature cool touch of the fabric on your skin to deodorizing and moisture-wicking properties, stretchiness, and seamless designs, we’ve added functionalities in pursuit of an optimal wearing experience. Today, this functional innerwear is something of a UNIQLO masterpiece. Since 2017, we’ve been offering AIRism mesh, which has a gentler texture suitable for kids and babies.

In our efforts to use science to quantify subjective accounts of AIRism’s “smooth, silky feel” that puts “an end to clammy summer sweat,” there is no better tool than a weather simulation chamber. Setting the room to simulate Tokyo outside in the summer, we had our subject wear the latest AIRism and walk the treadmill. Check out the results in the image below. Dry technology and moisture-wicking properties rapidly disperse sweat during exercise, for a comfortable fit that vastly outperforms a sweat-drenched cotton top.

“We can only take apparel so far through a subjective approach,” says a technician working in functionality assessment who helped establish the lab. “Unless we take a scientific, rational approach as well, we risk losing the support of customers who want legitimately high-performance products.” In this regard, data is indispensable. Day in and day out, this lab is verifying the scientific basis of our products, in the spirit of “Practical Beauty,” a blend of art and science that is one of UNIQLO’s ideals.

The weather simulation chamber played a key role in the development of sportswear for our partners on the Swedish national team. Also used to create uniforms for the 2020 summer games in Tokyo and the 2022 winter games in Beijing.

In this experiment, we had the subject walk for 10-minute sessions on a treadmill, setting the chamber to 32°C and 75% humidity. Providing the subject with tops made from AIRism or Supima cotton, we used a thermal camera to measure the surface temperatures of each garment after exercising.

  • AIRism
  • After 5min. Dry Much Faster!
  • Cotton
  • After 5min. Still Wet...
Though initially the temperature distribution was nearly identical, five minutes later the cotton top (right) had failed to disperse the perspiration, leaving the fabric chilly. The moisture-wicking dry technology of AIRism prevents sweat from accumulating. This allows the temperature to go down slowly, for a consistently dry feel.
*Experimental results vary by subject.
  • L)
    W’s AIRism Scoop Neck
    Short Sleeve T-ShirtW’s AIRism Soft Active Biker Shorts
  • R)
    W’s SUPIMA COTTON Crew Neck
    Short Sleeve T-Shirt
    W’s AIRism Soft Active Biker Shorts
AIRismCotton
  • AFTER 5MIN.
  • AFTER 15MIN.
  • AFTER 30MIN.
In our next experiment, we set the chamber to 26°C and 50% humidity. After soaking the cotton (left) and AIRism (right) T-shirts in water for five minutes, we hung them up and watched them dry using a thermal camera. Displayed left to right, the images compare the shirts after five, fifteen, and thirty minutes. The quick-drying properties of AIRism are vividly clear.

Five Examples of
AIRism’s Functionality

Working from a jersey base, AIRism comes in a variety of blends to suit your needs and lifestyle, from a mesh type that won’t show up under a shirt to items with a cotton outer layer, just like a T-shirt, as well as camisole and tank top patterns. Items for kids utilize a cotton blend.

1Important Meetings

You’re heading off to meet a client. The summer sun is blazing in the sky, but with the dry technology of AIRism under your shirt, you’re all set. The sweat dries up before it drips, so that you can nail that presentation. Without AIRism, that same presentation will turn into a sweaty nightmare, making it impossible to focus. What a waste.

2Summer Camping

The long-awaited campout has arrived. We’ve all been there, so fixated on our gear that we forget a change of clothes. If you wear the same T-shirt all through setting up and cooking lunch, you might begin to smell a little ripe. But AIRism’s antimicrobial and deodorizing properties keep the unpleasantness to a minimum. Your camping buddies will be jealous.

3No Time for Laundry

When you’re flat-out busy, it can be hard to find the time for chores. But every time you dress for work, your stock of innerwear depletes. In a pinch, give your AIRism a quick wash. Then simply hang them up outside, if the weather’s fine. As the experiment on p.85 shows, they’ll dry out way faster than cotton. This speediness can save the day.

4Hot Workplaces

A sunny office is a pleasant place to work, but if the heat kicks in, you’ll start to sweat under your sweater. In times like these, we recommend a layer of AIRism. The moisture-wicking properties save you from feeling sticky, while also staving off those sweaty chills. Not just for the hot months, this high-performance innerwear does the trick in every season.

5Good Sleep

Kids tend to sweat a lot at night, but with a layer of AIRism under their PJs, they’ll be nice and cozy. The cool smoothness of the fabric ensures a great night’s sleep, absorbing and dispersing moisture. The innerwear also helps to regulate temperature, even when you toss and turn. AIRism at bedtime is two birds with one stone.

The Last Mask You’ll Ever Need

On the day of our interview with the designer, a stack of plain white masks sat on the table in clear plastic bags. Easily fifty masks or more. On the chin, a date and other numbers had been written in tiny script, while ovals and what looked like plus and minus signs had been penciled onto some of the cheeks. “This is barely half of them,” said the creator of the masks, smiling as if to say that their design had been no easy feat.

UNIQLO asked world-class designer Tokujin Yoshioka to create a new AIRism mask just as COVID-19 was spreading throughout the globe, making masks a daily necessity to prevent infection from the airborne particles. Yoshioka was tasked with creating a revolutionary design that was also washable. Most of all, given the present circumstances, it had to be a functional piece of protective equipment. But since these masks have a history as medical equipment, the possibilities for different shapes were largely exhausted.

AIRism 3D MASK (Set of 2)
(packaging for US version)

The AIRism 3D MASK combines several of Yoshioka’s astute ideas. From the cross-sectional shape of the elastic strap and the size of the adjusters to the waffle-like structure of the cloth where the strap meets the mask, the finer points create a comfortable fit. To keep masks sterile, shrink wrap was used for the packaging. Available in white, navy and pink in sizes S to XL.

AIRism 3D MASK (Set of 2)
(packaging for US version)

The AIRism 3D MASK combines several of Yoshioka’s astute ideas. From the cross-sectional shape of the elastic strap and the size of the adjusters to the waffle-like structure of the cloth where the strap meets the mask, the finer points create a comfortable fit. To keep masks sterile, shrink wrap was used for the packaging. Available in white, navy and pink in sizes S to XL.

On the day of our interview with the designer, a stack of plain white masks sat on the table in clear plastic bags. Easily fifty masks or more. On the chin, a date and other numbers had been written in tiny script, while ovals and what looked like plus and minus signs had been penciled onto some of the cheeks. “This is barely half of them,” said the creator of the masks, smiling as if to say that their design had been no easy feat.

UNIQLO asked world-class designer Tokujin Yoshioka to create a new AIRism mask just as COVID-19 was spreading throughout the globe, making masks a daily necessity to prevent infection from the airborne particles. Yoshioka was tasked with creating a revolutionary design that was also washable. Most of all, given the present circumstances, it had to be a functional piece of protective equipment. But since these masks have a history as medical equipment, the possibilities for different shapes were largely exhausted.

Form Follows Function

“What you need for a beautiful design is functionality, simplicity, and innovation,” says Yoshioka. “In some countries, masks have a negative impression. To make that impression positive, we aimed for a design that would improve your overall appearance.”

Yoshioka’s first eureka moment was a seamless design, for minimal strain on the skin. Just like in the development of industrial goods, the design was organized around the manufacturing process. As with the Olympic torch Yoshioka designed for the Tokyo 2020 Games, his creations involve a fundamental reimagination of the subject, to arrive at something simpler and entirely new. This time around, he leveraged the seamless production methods developed by UNIQLO for manufacturing underwear.

For his material, he chose AIRism mesh, the soft and cooling fabric used in our products for kids. From there, it took several months for the bonding process to be sorted out and for the shape to be determined. The product went through many rounds of trial and error, far outnumbering the number of meetings. But after piling up a stack of different masks designs, Yoshioka finally realized his vision. “Trying all these different things took up a lot of time. Starting from a design that has already seen lots of improvements is really tough. But then again, that’s my specialty.”

Formal beauty and beautiful functionality blend marvelously in the final pattern, a product of unprecedented style which was soon dispatched worldwide.

©Yasutake Kondo

In addition to product design, Yoshioka also works in interior design, architecture, and contemporary art. Honey-pop (2001, top) is a chair consisting of a paper honeycomb structure. Glass Tea House - KOU-AN (2011, middle) was installed in 2015 on the Shogunzuka Seiryu-den stage, Tendai Sect Shoren-in, Kyoto. In 2020, amid a global shortage in medical supplies, Yoshioka released the Easy-to-make FACE SHIELD, an extremely simple PPE that can be made by hand.

Tokujin Yoshioka

Designer / Artist

Born in 1967. Founded his own studio, Tokujin Yoshioka Inc., in 2000. Drawing global praise, his poetic creations have been celebrated with such international honors as the Milano Design Award 2017. Many of his works, such as Honey-pop, are in the permanent collections in world renowned museums like The Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Musée National d’Art Moderne in France.

3D MASK Style Samples

  • Navy
  • Pink
  • White
  • Gray

Offered in a range of sizes and colors, the AIRism 3D MASK fits beautifully to any face, regardless of age or gender. Breathable and resilient, the washable mask naturally follows the shape of the face. One might even say that it embodies the spirit of LifeWear, designed to make everyday life more comfortable.

*Gray for illustration purposes only.

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