Uniqlo’s Shu Hung Talks the New Uniqlo U Collection

Uniqlo’s Shu Hung Talks the New Uniqlo U Collection

UNIQLO's Global Creative Director talks about the spirit and quality of Uniqlo U's Spring/Summer collection.

UNIQLO's Global Creative Director talks about the spirit and quality of Uniqlo U's Spring/Summer collection.

Text: Devin Barrett

The Uniqlo U collection, designed in UNIQLO's Paris atelier by artistic director Christopher Lemaire and a team of international designers, was created for those who tend to experiment with their style and evolve as the days goes on. The new Spring/Summer collection, celebrated last night at our Class of 2018 party, is the latest iteration of this movement, with essential pieces that still innovate, high-quality materials, and the progressive spirit that the Class perfectly embodies. Below, we asked UNIQLO's Global Creative Director, Shu Hung, some questions about the creation of the new collection and the mission of Uniqlo U.

The Spring/Summer collection was designed to help the wearer indulge in life’s little pleasures. What are some of your favorite key pieces in the collection and in what context/scenarios do you imagine them being worn?

Personally, I’m keen on the new Uniqlo U Blocktech Short Coat. Lemaire’s team started with a classic template and then stripped away the unnecessary details. They wanted to make a modern coat that was lightweight and versatile. It’s really refined and minimal but also super practical. They bonded UNIQLO’s BLOCKTECH technology between two layers of cotton gabardine so it’s water-repellent and windproof. I’m certain I'm going to want to wear it even when it’s not raining.

When discussing Uniqulo U and LifeWear, Christophe Lemaire expressed that luxury is about what you feel when you wear clothes. In that respect, what do you think are some of the most luxuriously wearable features of the collection?

What really stands out for me is the overall approach to comfort, which in fashion can sometimes be a dirty word. It’s off putting if you don’t really understand how it fits with the design. The Oxford English Dictionary has a great definition: the physical and mental state of being unbothered. And if you think about it, it’s actually an incredibly luxurious and fresh idea. Every consideration made for Uniqlo from the weight and care of the fabrics, to the fit, to the ease of the closures or just the way it looks, it’s all there to service and elevate this idea of comfort.

The colorways seen in the spring/summer collection are very bold and vibrant—what were some inspirations on the mood board when dreaming up these hues?

The design team was heavily influenced by California and a very sun-drenched, David Hockney-esque laidback lifestyle. All of those really intense, clear, crisp colors are coming from this very happy and optimistic but very modern and sophisticated mood. They’re meant to literally brighten your day. 

Uniqlo U is a space for forward-looking experimentation when it comes to fabrication, shape, etc. What are some exciting and interesting materials used in this collection? What was the direction behind the silhouettes?

Well, the BLOCKTECH bonded cotton is worth mentioning again. What’s amazing is how the designers took these very technical fabrications and bonded seams that are quite typical in high-performance outerwear, and then integrated them into very classic, very traditional tailoring. It’s really this amazing hybrid that shows how clothing can truly evolve. That’s the whole idea of Uniqlo U. The WHOLEGARMENT Knitwear is also still really impressive. If you can imagine a perfectly contoured dress that was cut to the body, that’s essentially what this is. Because of this technology, because it’s a totally new way to engineer textiles, we now have a rare and amazing opportunity to create clothes that are completely new. The WHOLEGARMENT pieces available in the collection are gorgeous and I think really hint at its future potential.

The idea of “progressive essentials” is very central to Uniqlo U. Can you discuss that concept a bit? What does that idea mean to you?

When it comes to clothes, some people think that essential means boring or flat. But actually, the forces and conditions that make something actually essential are incredibly dynamic. What was once essential and made a lot of sense 50 years ago, is not at all what we believe is essential for us today. Life changes, culture changes, our bodies change. The environment is changing! Our clothes have to change, too. With Uniqlo U, we are trying to anticipate the changes that will influence how and why people dress.

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