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Uniqlo

Uniqlo collaborations have been a foundation of the brand for over a decade. The discerning choice of collaborators taps into areas of pop culture, high fashion, and niche interest that makes covetable and rare designs accessible to everyone.

A compound of “unique” and “clothing,” Uniqlo has its origins in 1984, when the company’s first store opened in Hiroshima, Japan. It has since become a fashion retail empire with more than 1,300 stores worldwide and notable fans such as Robert Pattinson and Pharrell.

The Japanese label is most famous for its range of high-quality basics, UT graphic T-shirt line, heat-tech fabrics, and, as mentioned earlier, its countless collaborations. Whereas collabs between brands are announced more or less every day right now, Uniqlo collabs have been pioneering the joint creative process for years. And on that note, we’ve covered some of the strongest Uniqlo collaborations to date below.

Uniqlo x KAWS x Sesame Street

Drawing its theme from legendary kids TV show Sesame Street, Uniqlo’s collaboration with pop-culture street artist KAWS stars all our furry faves. Expect appearances from Ernie, Oscar the Grouch, Elmo, as well as KAWS’ BFF Companion, on a selection of tees. If previous collections are anything to go by, bags and other accessories will also be included in the drop. While we don’t have exact info regarding the collection’s release date, an Instagram post from KAWS suggests the pieces will arrive this summer. Stay tuned.

Uniqlo x Keith Haring

Uniqlo tapped the iconic ’80s pop artist Keith Haring in 2007. The colorful designs naturally lent themselves to a range of T-shirts, which can be seen above. In the 11 years since this Uniqlo collab dropped, brands such as BAPE, Beams, NOAH, TOMS, Reebok, COMME des GARÇONS, OBEY, and SENSEO have all released products featuring Haring’s socially critical work. This just goes to show that Uniqlo is way ahead of the game here, tapping the New York artist well ahead of its high fashion and streetwear competitors.

Uniqlo x Jil Sander

Dubbed “+J,” Jil Sanders’ 2009 Uniqlo collaboration was immensely popular, lasting for five seasons and later revived with a “Best of +J” line in 2014 and 2015. The typically minimalist collection contained about 100 pieces for women and about 40 for men, including slim-fitting shirts, gilets, merino wool turtleneck sweaters, duffle coats, suit jackets, and suit pants.

Uniqlo x UNDERCOVER

Uniqlo first collaborated with cult Japanese label UNDERCOVER in 2012. Together, they designed a range of fleece zip-up jackets, down insulator jackets, a fur-hooded jacket, and blazers as seen above. Called “UU,” the collab between two seemingly dissimilar labels also included a line of remixed Disney T-shirts. Jun Takahashi posted on his blog about finding a creative meeting point with Uniqlo: “We had several discussions, as a result of which, an idea popped up simultaneously from both sides: clothes for mom, dad, and the children; clothes for the family. We had found our common ground.”

Uniqlo x Alexandre Plokhov

In 2014, long before luxury tracksuits were a thing, Uniqlo collaborated with Russian-American designer Alexandre Plokhov for an avant-garde yet affordable collection called Uniqlo Urban Sweats. Referencing his position as the menswear designer for Helmut Lang, this collab was minimalist, mostly black, and with a subtle architectural edge.

Uniqlo x Christophe Lemaire

Continuing a string of high-end collabs, Uniqlo hooked up with former artistic director of Hermès Christophe Lemaire on a luxury line of basics for FW15 and SS16. Uniqlo later appointed Lemaire as artistic director of a new research and development center in Paris to build the Uniqlo U diffusion line. Lemaire described Uniqlo as “everyday clothing that resonates with people worldwide,” which seems about right.

Uniqlo x KAWS x Peanuts

Uniqlo first tapped American pop artist KAWS in 2016 for a line of T-shirts featuring the artist’s morbid motifs of dead eyes and his Companion and BFF characters. Uniqlo linked up with KAWS again a year later, this time to bring in another collaborator, the classic Sunday comic strip Peanuts.

Uniqlo x JW Anderson

In 2017, Uniqlo turned to designer JW Anderson for a Spring 2018 capsule: a collection of updated British heritage garments such as cable knits, highland tartans, and rugby stripes. JW Anderson (known for glittery Converse designs) is no stranger to working with other brands, having collaborated with A$AP Rocky and Topshop in the past.

Uniqlo X Japanese Ramen

Uniqlo dropped a collection in collaboration with some of Japan’s most famous ramen restaurants earlier this year. Featuring restaurants Afuri, Ebisoba Ichigen, Menya Musashi, Setagaya, Ippudo, and Hokkaido Ramen Santouka, the T-shirts featured graphic bowls of ramen (as you might expect) as well as some of the restaurants’ logos and symbols.

Uniqlo x Tomas Maier

At the beginning of 2018, Uniqlo linked up with Tomas Maier, creative director of Bottega Veneta, for a capsule that introduced Swimwear to Uniqlo’s ever-growing roster of casual clothing. The super luxury designer said, “I know the product well because I’ve experienced it personally,” showing that no one is too fashionable to shop at Uniqlo.

Uniqlo x Eames

Uniqlo paid tribute to American design virtuosos Charles and Ray Eames with a collaboration titled “SPRZ NY EAMES” in October 2017. The married couple’s designs have informed significant shifts in 21st-century design, notably the Eames chair. Uniqlo released a range of geometric tees, slippers, shoals, and accessories, and the chair got a shout-out, too, as a graphic print.

Uniqlo x Karakami Karacho

In April 2018, Uniqlo, always quick to pay homage to its national heritage, dropped a collaboration with one of Japan’s oldest paper studios, Karacho. The karakami paper practice traditionally involves hand-carved symbols and designs on whitebark magnolia, and for this capsule, the Spring/Summer designs cropped up on pastel short-sleeve tees and shorts.

Uniqlo x Doraemon

Uniqlo tapped much-loved robotic time-traveling cat Doraemon in April 2018. The collection features designs by Japanese pop artist Takahashi Murakami, whose signature animated flowers can be seen on Doraemon on tees as well as a plush toy.

Words by Max Grobe
Associate Fashion Editor
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