I went to Japan and now I finally ‘get’ UNIQLO

Words by Giulia Brugliera

I was once like you.

UNIQLO is pretty weird, huh.

I get it. You walk into store, only to find a million coloured versions of the same quilted jacket, cashmere jumper and those legging-pant things. (Those legging-pant things rule, btw).

I know what it’s like, because I was once like you. Where all the other global chain stores made sense, UNIQLO was the anomaly; the foreign second cousin that try as it might, just would not fit in with its retail giant counterparts.

But turns out it’s actually the bomb.

It took a trip to Japan for me to finally ‘get’ UNIQLO but now that I do, I can’t imagine my life without it. Much like Nutella, or when I discovered ‘rosebud’ on The Sims. So for those still confused by the relevance of Heattech, let me explain.

It’s not ‘fashion’ per se

The first step on your way to UNIQLO enlightenment, is to understand how to wear it. Once I’d seen UNIQLO in context (i.e. Japan), the brand made a whole lot more sense.

I like to analogise it with normcore. When we first discovered normcore it was as boring as it was puzzling. But once we’d seen enough fashion bloggers pull it off, our city embraced it with an unbridled enthusiasm: one that delivered an overabundance of boxy silhouettes and mom jeans.

Much like normcore, once you understand UNIQLO, it’s easy to embrace. Also much like normcore, UNIQLO’s key focus is on minimal, wearable staples that are easy to ‘build up’. But fortunately, unlike normcore, there’s much more versatility here.

It’s the antithesis of fast fashion

This is kind of hard to swallow given that we tend to bundle UNIQLO with the other chain store giants. But think of it as a wholesome apple where the other brands are McDonald’s – it’s pretty much the total exact opposite.

UNIQLO rejects the fast fashion model entirely, refusing to manufacture any style it considers to be a passing trend.

Take skinny jeans, for example. It took years before the brand started manufacturing them. At the time, everyone considered our love affair with skinny jeans to be somewhat ephemeral. Obviously that was not the case and today, UNIQLO delivers skinny jeans accordingly.

You will literally always have something to wear

More visits to UNIQLO = less morning freakouts because yes, you will always have something to wear. Most of what’s in-store is designed to fit in seamlessly with your existing wardrobe. Top for those culottes? Tick. Jacket for that top? Tick. Coat that doesn’t interfere with that culottes/top/jacket sitch? Tick. You get the idea.

It’s essentially magic

You know when you’ve heard people raving out how ah-mazing their new UNIQLO piece is and you’ve never really understood why? This is why.

Essentially, they’re talking about the technical aspect of the product – what makes it durable, washable, flexible, etc. UNIQLO has dedicated an undeniably massive portion of its business to fabric innovation (such as Heattech and Airism), so that it becomes more comfortable and practical for everyday wear. So far they’ve invented puffer jackets that fit in your clutch and singlets that quite literally absorb your body heat.

It’s kind of like dressing in the future.


Giulia Brugliera was a guest of UNIQLO for its Spring/Summer 17 press tour in Japan.

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