Interview with Christophe Lemaire

Interview with Christophe Lemaire

What is the core concept of the collection this season for Spring/Summer 2022?

The concept of Uniqlo U is still the same. It’s about creating functional, universal, essential pieces that free movement, are designed to last and bring solutions to everyday life. This is in accordance with the concept of Uniqlo, which is LifeWear. So there are no new concepts, but different vibes, season after season. This season was very much about creating better fabrication, and trying to bring a fresh twist.

How does the Uniqlo U SS22 collection speak to the time we’re living in today?

More than ever, the philosophy behind Uniqlo U and Uniqlo in general is relevant today. It’s about creating good clothes that are utilitarian, desirable and creating pieces that you want to keep and last a long time — and hopefully become an accomplice of your wardrobe. What’s happening today is that everyone realizes, we don’t need so many clothes. We don’t need so many objects around us. We need the right ones. And this is what we’re trying to do.

Many of the clothes in this collection are designed for commuting and to be flexible in an urban environment. How do you commute to work?

Well, commuting, it’s interesting to see how habits have changed. And recently, in every big city, like here in Paris, we have a big transformation in the way we commute with the appearance of more and more bikes. I myself am biking to work, because at the end of the day, it’s much easier to go from one place to the other in a quick and healthy way. The whole team had this in mind more and more. For instance, we tried to design practical bags, different coats that are not too long, had slits on the side, and had the necessity of hoods and protection pieces for unfortunate weather or chilly days.

Can you tell us about the key pieces in the collection, and what makes them ideal for city life?

We designed one of the key pieces for both men and women. It’s interesting to know that more and more, this unisex dimension that we always believed in is actually working. One example is the roomy, boxy blouson. It’s a very simple rain blouson but quite special by the volume. It’s a little bit oversized, with the hood integrated in the collar and a very specific crispy, water-repellent cotton. And what we always find interesting is treating these iconic pieces again with a twist in the material, volume and colors. We came up with very interesting faded colors, color neutrals—there is a range that’s a bit unusual, that like very much.

What is the colour range this season, and why did the team gravitate towards those colours?

We tried to create colours that we can easily match and that are not too loud. It’s really about subtlety and trying to find interesting neutrals that are as refined as possible. So it’s very much about colored neutrals, sage green, sands, charcoal, and also faded sunsets, but also highlights of bright orange or vermillion. And always shades of black, charcoals, shades of whites, whites with a little bit of green in it.

Oftentimes, it’s the details that make a good garment great. Of course, we don’t mean things that are physically small, but the designer’s choice to make the sleeve wider in a certain area, or the placement of a pocket, etc. Can you tell us about some of your favorite details in this collection? And what makes the pieces in this collection “essentials with a point of view?”

It’s a very thin line between basic design and boring design. This is what Uniqlo is all about, creating essentials with a point of view. We care a lot about being very specific about all those little details that make all the difference—the size, or the color, or the design of a sleeve or the volume of an arm sleeve, or choosing one of fifty shades of beige. This collection, we worked a lot on the volume of the sleeves, especially for the womenswear. If you look carefully at the volume of the blouson or the kimono sleeve t-shirt and t-shirt dress -- those are good examples of how essential pieces can have character.

This is the 12th season of Uniqlo U. From the very first collection, what do you feel has changed in the way the team designs the clothes, and what has stayed the same?

It’s interesting, because looking back on our first meetings with the teams and the first boards, everything was there. It was very much the same concept and same philosophy. What has changed is that we just refined it season after season. We want to constantly improve the fabrication and design. We understand what is more relevant and what is less. We address global markets for people from very different backgrounds, countries, ages and social groups. And we look at the reality of the sales to understand what people need. We’ve fine-tuned that. But basically, it’s the same direction from the beginning

What is the color range this season, and why did the team gravitate towards those colors?

We tried to create colors that we can easily match and that are not too loud. It’s really about subtlety and trying to find interesting neutrals that are as refined as possible. So it’s very much about colored neutrals, sage green, sands, charcoal, and also faded sunsets, but also highlights of bright orange or vermillion. And always shades of black, charcoals, shades of whites, whites with a little bit of green in it.

Can you tell us Uniqlo U collection for the future?

From now on, we are still looking in the same direction. Very much following the concept of Uniqlo, which is bringing solutions to everyday life by clothes.