Uniqlo got the message from those sold-out Lemaire collabs. The Japanese fast fashion brand has hired former Hermès designer Christophe Lemaire as artistic director of a new Uniqlo Paris R&D Centre, Business of Fashion exclusively reports. From that perch, he will design a new affordable line called Uniqlo U, which will debut in early July during couture week in Paris.
Lemaire describes the line, which will hit Uniqlo stores in the fall, as "elevated basics." If that sounds a little bit normcore (especially for Couture Week), Lemaire gets it. "Our ambition is to fill the gap between what’s fashion and what’s ‘normal,’ Lemaire told Business of Fashion. "I know the word 'normcore' is overused, but there’s something about normality I find very interesting — how do you make it super normal but refined and cool and desirable?"
While the previous collabs were limited edition, Lemaire’s Uniqlo U line is going to be in all 1,774 stores. It will encompass menswear and womenswear, shoes, and leather accessories, and Lemaire will split his time between his own namesake line and the Uniqlo project.
This isn’t the first time that Uniqlo’s established a long-standing relationship with a designer. Uniqlo carried Jil Sander's +J for five seasons and even revived the collection's greatest hits. But despite big plans, Uniqlo's been struggling in its attempts to get a foothold in the US market. Now this high-profile line with Lemaire is getting a big unveiling, so maybe that will be the splash Uniqlo's looking for — considering the brand's been faltering lately in its quest for global domination.