Jonathan Anderson is one of fashion’s most promising designers in recent years. His penchant for gender-bending styles, innovative approaches to fashion and advocacy of craftsmanship have earned him critical praises and awards. Even more impressive is his ability to consistently create covetable fashion for three brands that couldn’t be more different—JW Anderson, LOEWE and UNIQLO. This also gives him a foothold in luxury, affordable luxury and fast fashion.
Related article: JW Anderson Is Over The Runway, And He’s Getting Creative Instead
Anderson has been a mainstay on UNIQLO’s rolodex of collaborators since 2017—and for good reason too. He creates collections that blend both his and UNIQLO’s aesthetics together. The result? A series of wardrobe staples apparels that can be mixed-and-matched and worn for years to come.
Related article: Jonathan Anderson On How Fashion Can Rise Up To Meet The Moment
Anderson’s latest Spring/Summer 2021 collection for UNIQLO is a prime example of this. The series features the British designer’s artisanal touch paired with a sense of playfulness—think T-shirts, blouses, hats, tote bags, and accessories with embroidered wildflower accents in varying shades and materials such as cool linen and seersucker fabrics in shades of khaki, brown and ivory. Bohemian smocking on dresses and skirts, as well as blanket stitching on women’s denim items and men’s T-shirts and shirts also underline the collection.
Ahead, we speak exclusively to Anderson on his inspiration for the collection, creative process, future collaborations and more.
Tell us about the inspiration behind the UNIQLO and JW ANDERSON Spring/Summer 2021 Collection.
At the beginning of the pandemic I was lucky enough to be able to spend time outdoors and in my garden in London. For this collection I was thinking about being inspired by new beginnings and the idea of spring and renewal.
Related article: Build An Ideal Capsule Wardrobe With The Uniqlo U SS21 Collection
Tell us about the elements you’ve incorporated in this collection.
The colours are meant to reflect this idea of nature and earth and also to feel a bit light, a bit subdued. I wanted the overall mood to feel calming and connected to this idea of spring and optimism. The colours are quite comforting.
The silhouettes that we chose for this season were really about working with the colour palette as well for a calm, grounded, comfortable wardrobe but still have that JW Anderson kind of edge to them. The silhouettes are also very much part of the JW Anderson brand DNA, which we like to share with Uniqlo in these collaborations.
Walk us through your creative process.
Every time I do a project, I always think about what I would want to wear on a daily basis. And I really believe that you can always find creativity, no matter where you are. During the lockdown periods of this pandemic, I took time to look through books that I’ve bought and never took the plastic off. I’ve been able to be bored and more curious about simple things. This has been a good moment to really look at things that interest you, which is great for the creative process.
Related article: RE.UNIQLO Breathes New Life Into Unwanted Clothing
Tell us about your design philosophy.
Ultimately, good design to me are pieces that make the wearer feel good and their life easier. I think the key to UNIQLO’s core identity is that it is one of the only brands that you can mix with other brands, high and low. And I think ultimately, they are giving the consumer the versatility to be able to say: “Do what you want to do with the clothes”. It’s not a dictated look. It is not a look that is going to work for 25 people or for 100 people; it’s a product that needs to work for tens of thousands of people. And it allows the consumer to make the decision. You can put this with this, with this, with this. They are not a precious brand, and I think that’s what’s so important in what they do.
I think now more than ever, whether you are still at home or stepping out into everyday life again. And people just want to feel good in their clothes. To feel confident in them no matter how they choose to wear them; no matter what their gender expression or identity. Comfortable and happy and confident, and good design can help you feel that way.
What can we expect to see in this collection?
I am a big proponent of craft and the handmade and I wanted a way to put forward that idea within this collection. The blanket stitching gives this feeling that the clothes were made generations ago by your relatives; and the embroidery feels like a needlepoint that maybe your grandmother did.
In this collection, I really love the Men’s Flower Embroidered Crew Neck T-shirt—I like the fact that it’s super crafty. I was watching a lot of people making things over the pandemic. And I liked the idea of creating something innocent and simplistic. We’ve got some amazing trousers this season too; we’ve really worked on the fits. The linens are also great—they will last for years to come and will never go out of fashion.
What was it like creating this collection during a pandemic?
A lot of working from home, like most people, I think. It has been a challenge but I work with incredible teams and we have used all the technical solutions available to keep the collections moving forward. We’ve done fittings via Zoom and sent samples through DHL. Whatever it takes to get the work done. Creatively it has been frustrating to not be out in the world but I have found inspiration in art, online and in everyday life.
What do you love most about collaborating with UNIQLO?
I live in UNIQLO T-shirts and jumpers. I really like the T-shirts with the blanket stitching. There is a standard to them that makes them quite versatile, which is key for me. I love working in fashion and I spend all my days looking at and designing clothes so some days – most days really – I don’t like to think too much about what I am wearing.
I met Mr Yanai—founder and owner UNIQLO—many years ago and I have huge respect for him and his proposition of LifeWear. UNIQLO is very good at innovation – inventing fabric and coming up with solutions. Plus, I really like democratisation of the fact that you can buy into JW Anderson through UNIQLO with a piece that will last for a very long time but only costs 20 euros. It’s quite difficult to create something quite simple, so that’s something I’d like to continue delivering with the brand in all of our collections.
Click through the gallery to view the collection.
The JW Anderson Spring/Summer 2021 collection with Uniqlo consists of 15 items for women, 12 items for men and 3 goods items with prices ranging from S$19.90 for shirts to S$79.90 for dresses. Visit the website for more information.