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UNIQLO x White Mountaineering: Interview with Yosuke Aizawa

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White Mountaineering’s UNIQLO collaboration is sort of Yosuke Aizawa’s big break. Make no mistake, White Mountaineering is a massive brand in its native Japan, famous and financially stable enough to hold on. parades at the two local events organized by Rakuten and at the luxurious Paris Fashion Week.

Despite this international reach and reputation, White mountaineering is still one of those “in the know” brands outside of Japan.

Collaborations with adidas and Eastpak have attracted a few glances, but White Mountaineering’s noticeably elegant technical clothing remains unknown to all but the most obsessive Japanese types of fashion.

This ends with the launch of the White Mountaineering collaboration in select stores and The UNIQLO website on November 1, Aizawa’s biggest global push to date.

This is the latest in a long line of noticeably portable but stylistically elevated UNIQLO collaborations, following the falls of UNIQLO U by Cristophe Lemaire, + J by Jil Sander, JW Anderson and Engineered Garments.

Even with UNIQLO’s penchant for the mass market, Aizawa wants the clothes in her UNIQLO line to last forever. He envisions White Mountaineering x UNIQLO being shared among family members and maybe even passed down from generation to generation, as appreciated as any sturdy layering piece from White Mountaineering.

What brought you together with UNIQLO?

I was inspired by the UNIQLO philosophy of Life clothes and “the ultimate everyday outfit” creating clothes that can connect people across generations, races and genders.

The theme of the collection is “outerwear created as a common language for everyone”: I wanted to combine the technical design for which White Mountaineering is known with the LifeWear philosophy of UNIQLO.

The new collaboration is also the first time White Mountaineering has designed UNIQLO children’s items connecting White Mountaineering with new audiences and possibilities, and White Mountaineering doing the same in kind, is exactly what I’m looking for in a mutually-beneficial collaboration. beneficial.

Was it difficult to adapt White Mountaineerings’ design ethic to the wider UNIQLO audience?

The White Mountaineering scale and UNIQLO are completely different. With White Mountaineering it’s a personal process of figuring out what I like and what details I find interesting at the moment.

While for this collaboration, I had to think about how to reach a population that knows UNIQLO but not White Mountaineering, like my childhood friends, my children, and my wife’s friends and colleagues for example. In other words, I had to figure out how to design, assess and adapt the lifestyle of these people, which I had never thought of before.

From a design perspective, it’s about adding to the brand what you are looking for in your own brand. I’m thinking about how to integrate it since people don’t know if it’s White Mountaineering or UNIQLO.

What transferred to this UNIQLO line from the White Mountaineering main line?

An element with typical white mountaineering style details is the hybrid down jacket with waterproof zip pockets on both sides of the chest. While it’s rare for a UNIQLO jacket to have chest pockets, our goal for the design was to go the middle lane: not just maximizing warmth and wearability, or getting too outward, but also incorporating elements. of military styles.

This jacket can be combined with classic items for a modern look especially in all black, it is versatile and can adapt to different styles. Our goal was to create LifeWear that stands the test of time.

BLK by White Mountaineering is sort of a simplified version of your work: has this sub-label guided your work for UNIQLO?

We decide on a seasonal theme for White Mountaineering, but for BLK it is more based on our accumulated experience as designers. We rely on the technical skills acquired by manufacturing snowboard equipment and working with sportswear manufacturers.

However, there is a mutual relationship between White Mountaineering and BLK. The most important thing for us in designing this UNIQLO collaboration was ease of movement and comfort, and I can say that we have adopted the knowledge and skills that we have gained by designing BLK.

What do you think are the centerpieces of this collection?

The oversized Ultra Light Down jacket is the one I have been the most to do.

The classic UNIQLO Ultra Light Down jackets are made of a smooth and shiny material, but we have developed a material with a crumpled finish that gives it a slightly crispy feel. I was very picky about the material. It is easy to carry, easy to move and foldable.

I think the oversized long sleeve fleece jacket is another piece that gives you a sense of White Mountaineering’s style, in that it combines a military aesthetic with exterior detailing.

Using boa fleece for the body and terry fleece for the sleeves, it appears to be layered, but it is also designed to allow freedom of movement around the arms. Like this jacket, many of the items in this collaboration can be worn unisex, so I hope people share the items with their family and partners.

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