The Revival of UNIQLO and Jil Sander’s +J. Jil Sander and UNIQLO sets the standard for elevated basics fit for the new normal in the return of +J.

After 9 years, +J makes a long-awaited comeback to the market. Ever since Jil Sander collaborated with UNIQLO in their first +J drop nearly a decade ago, people are still talking about how innovative and well-made the pieces were. It’s no surprise that with +J’s return, fashion enthusiasts all over the world are all lining up in anticipation to get their hands on a piece of this long-awaited collaboration.

Not to be confused with the brand, this collaboration is between Uniqlo and the designer Jil Sander herself, not the brand under the same name. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Sander and why she has such a big following, you could say that she’s the queen of minimalism in the world of fashion. She started her namesake brand in 1968, and although the road was rocky at the beginning, her designs eventually gained popularity for its sophisticated and luxurious take on minimalism. The rising idea of minimalism in the 90s stirred quite a controversy in the times of extravagance – they objected to the notion that the bigger is better, and instead proved that less is more. In this movement, Sander was definitely one of the leading trailblazers, along with fellow designers like Martin Margiela, Helmut Lang, Ann Demeulemeester, and more.

The Revival of UNIQLO and Jil Sander's +J

Image courtesy of UNIQLO.

With her signature style of refined minimalism, the latest +J collection consists of 37 womenswear and 25 menswear pieces that are sleek, premium and versatile. The term ‘elevated basics’ might be thrown around a bit too much in the fashion industry lately but this collection is an excellent example of what ‘elevated basics’ should be. “Our formula, when we started with +J ten years ago, was: “Luxury will be simplicity, purity in design, beauty and comfort for all. Quality for the people.” Nothing has changed in my vision,” says Sander. Still sticking to this original value, this latest collaboration between Sander and UNIQLO creates high-quality pieces with refined tailoring that can be used by consumers comfortably in various ways for their every day activities at an accessible price point.

In a release, Sander explained, “I set out to define the global modern uniform with this in mind: Clothes should be long-lasting and enduring. They should serve the wearer and give her or him the energy and self-assurance which is so much needed in our global reality.” She also revealed to the Cut that, “The pandemic added urgency to the project. Even great clothes, I feel, can encourage us all to get ready for a new beginning. To me, +J is like a little present that I can contribute.”

The Revival of UNIQLO and Jil Sander's +J

Image courtesy of UNIQLO.

The collection is fit for the pandemic indeed, with pieces that are comfortable enough to lounge at home in but still sophisticated enough to wear for zoom conferences like the boxy Supima Cotton blouses available in both men’s and women’s lines. With the anticipation for this collection in mind, Sander’s designs made sure that even if you were only able to grab one article of clothing from the entire line, you were able to use this one garment in various ways. Asides from that, the pieces she created are definitely timeless classics yet sharp enough to make a statement, for example, the Blouson Oversized Rib Down jacket and the Double-Face Stand Collar Jacket.

In regards to what inspired the design choices for this collection, Sander stated that the current situation of distanced social relationships play a big role in the silhouettes and fabrics she used, “In our actual situation of more distanced social relationships, it is important to keep the individual aura of a person well intact. That’s why I was looking more than ever for 3-dimensional forms and attractive movement. This aim is achieved by quality fabrics with standing power, interesting weaves, meticulous workmanship and colours which are reduced, clear and becoming. “

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It’s also interesting to point out that the first +J collection was also released in the midst of a global economic recession, and looking at the condition the world is in, it’s most likely that we’ll be going through a similar situation soon enough. But perhaps with this state, a decreasing interest in disposable trendy fashion will be seen and instead, a collection that’s filled with multifaceted yet functional pieces that are durable is exactly what the world will be looking for.

“Our aim is to offer high-end sophistication at democratic prices. Of course, this process is challenging. But I am confident that we resolved the obstacles and will surprise our customers with a desirable collection,” Sander shares in a statement. The designer is aware that the pandemic has definitely brought a shift in attitude from customers towards fashion, but she believes that the collection will be well-received and relevant towards the new normal everyone’s adapting to, “I feel that people want clothes which express the new situation to themselves and to others. They are more serious-minded and look for something that supports them mentally and aesthetically for the tasks at hand.” (Text Vanya Harapan)