Turning your passion into a successful business may seem like a hard-to-reach goal to some, but for fashion designer Yosuke Aizawa, it was a dream come true. The protégée of Junya Watanabe turned his everlasting passion for the great outdoors into a blooming career, launching the White Mountaineering brand in 2006.
Related article: What To Add To Cart From The Jeff Koons UT Collection At UNIQLO
Over the years, Aizawa has steadily built a growing presence at Florence’s biannual trade show Pitti Uomo, and established an undeniable international presence. Having collaborated with the likes of Saucony, Porter, Seiko and Barbour, White Mountaineering has now become a staple in many streetwear enthusiasts’ wardrobes. And his latest collaboration with fellow Japanese brand UNIQLO will put his designs in many more closets.
This is the first time that White Mountaineering and UNIQLO have collaborated with each other. The capsule collection—comprising jackets and fleeces—seamlessly combines the distinctive tailoring of the former with the sleek, contemporaneity of the latter into one affordable line-up for the whole family. Functionality, comfort and versatility not only reign supreme in this collection, it is also stylish and well-made.
Ahead, we speak to Yosuke Aizawa on the White Mountaineering x UNIQLO collection, his creative process, design philosophies and more.
Tell us about your creative process. What comes first?
First, I focus on research and then decide on a theme. After which, my team and I will select elements that resonate with the theme and create them one by one.
What are your design philosophies?
One of my beliefs about making clothes is on the premise that people move—whether someone is sitting on a chair, driving a car or walking, some joints are always bent. I don’t think that human beings are standing upright all the time.
Clothes that are difficult to move in or make me feel uncomfortable are not what I’m looking for. And something that just looks cool isn’t really fashionable to me. I wanted the outerwear I made with UNIQLO to follow that same line of thought. The emphasis should be on clothing that makes you forget you’re even wearing it.
When creating patterns and designs, I considered ways to reduce stress around the sleeves and shoulders. I thought deeply about how I can apply the outdoor and sports details that I’ve cultivated over the years at White Mountaineering to UNIQLO; clothes that can be worn by a diverse group of people. I believe that this new UNIQLO line is born from the three-dimensional cutting that I incorporated into this collection.
Related article: How To Cop Blackpink Jennie’s High-Waisted Denim Looks
What are three items from this collection that you would encourage everyone to get?
Firstly, the Hybrid Down Oversized Parka. It incorporates the iconic White Mountaineering style detailing with water-stop zip pockets on both sides of the chest. Though rare for a UNIQLO jacket to have pockets at the chest, our aim for the design was to take the middle path—not simply maximising warmth and wearability, or getting too outdoorsy, but incorporating elements from military styles as well. This jacket can be paired with classic items for a modern look that can adapt to different styles. The goal of LifeWear is to withstand the test of time.
Next, the Fleece Oversized Long Sleeve Jacket. The jacket combines different types of fleece for a three-dimensional look, resulting in a layered style. By using the Boa Fleece for the body and the Sponge Fleece for the sleeves, the design offers ease of movement around the arms. The pocket incorporates a design using woven fabric, which is a detail often seen on outdoor clothing. The combination of both military and outdoor styles is an iconic feature of White Mountaineering.
Lastly, the Fleece Oversized Mock Neck Pullover Shirt. Featuring a Sponge Fleece material, the shirt takes on a relaxed silhouette that is perfect for both indoor and outdoor—depending on how it is layered. Ribbons and large slits are also added on the hem as a design accent, providing both style and functionality. The kids’ range also features a similar design, providing the ease of outfit coordination for both mother and child.
What has been the most challenging yet rewarding aspect of working on this collaboration?
The scale of White Mountaineering and UNIQLO are completely different. With White Mountaineering it was a personal process of figuring out what I like and what details I find interesting at the moment. But for this collaboration, I had to think about how to reach a demographic that knows UNIQLO but not White Mountaineering—my own friends from my youth, my own children, and my wife’s friends and colleagues for instance. As a result, I had to figure out how to design, price, and fit the lifestyle of these people which is something I had never thought about before.
What can we expect from you in the near future?
I have been working with this style and direction for 15 years. And now I feel a renewed link between what I have been doing and the times. I would like to enhance the elements of functional clothing and fashion.
See our favourite pieces here
The White Mountaineering x UNIQLO collection fall/winter 2021 collection launches on Friday, 15 October 2021. It’ll be available online and at the Orchard Central Global Flagship store. Prices range from $19.90 for a kid’s pullover to $199.90 for a men’s oversized parka.