The high street’s penchant for designer collaborations has grown apace in recent years. What began relatively quietly (the Valentino collection for GAP back in 2010, for example) has now become a lesson in global marketing, with the likes of Balmain x H&M causing mass hysteria, largely thanks to social media. Sift through the noise and all too often you can find that the clothes don’t live up to the hype. But Uniqlo’s new collaboration with JW Anderson defies such a rule and is proof that a designer name isn’t always just a gimmick.
Anderson is the prodigious British talent whose innovative and often whacky designs have been the toast of fashion weeks for the past few years. It would, therefore, be easy to expect this collection for Uniqlo to be a bit exclusive, reserved for those who are slaves to high-fashion trends. But, launching today in stores and online, the 33-piece collection is described by Uniqlo as “British Heritage meets Lifewear” and, as evasive as that sounds, it’s actually exactly what’s been achieved.
Oversized jumpers, brilliantly cut trench coats and padded jackets all feature, only with quirky design twists. The trench is, for example, reversible, with the option to wear it as classic beige or as a tartan print. There are frilled midi skirts, a nod to Anderson’s design from a few seasons ago, seen on almost every fashion blogger and editor, as well as cosy duffle coats, roll-neck jumper dresses and striped scarves, inspired by the designer’s schooldays.
It’s all functional, well cut and affordable. And, yet, it’s also very covetable. Not just because Anderson’s name is attached, but because this is a collection packed with the sorts of things with which you could fill your wardrobe and wear every day of autumn and winter, without ever becoming bored. There may not have been a barrage of "It" girls on Instagram showing off this collaboration, but that’s only to its credit. This is a clever rumination on all the things Uniqlo does best (practicality, durability) with an added flourish. Only, don’t be fooled – this collection may not have the surrounding hysteria, but it will undoubtedly sell like hot cakes.