Uniqlo Unveils New Fabric Technologies, Plans for US Expansion

In addition to Uniqlo's whole lab of people focused on creating technological fabrics, the brand has Nicola Formichetti upping the style ante.
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Dhani Mau
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In addition to Uniqlo's whole lab of people focused on creating technological fabrics, the brand has Nicola Formichetti upping the style ante.
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Yesterday morning, we got a sneak peek at Uniqlo's second "Lifewear" collection. Lifewear is Uniqlo's new fashion "category," and is comprised of nine "projects," including Flannel, Heattech, and Silk, that carry over from season to season with minor stylistic and technological updates.

Despite making our favorite oxfords and warm tights, Uniqlo has always put technology and function before trend-driven fast fashion. The brand's design director Naoki Takizawa described his philosophy on trends thusly: "Sometimes people think it's the designer making the trend, but I think the trend always comes from the people, then the designer captures the mood." Flannel button-downs and Heattech leggings will always be parts of Uniqlo's inventory, but every season there will be new colors, and in some instances, tech upgrades. For instance, next fall, Uniqlo will launch Heattech Extreme using new material that is 1.6 times warmer than original Heattech.

Lifewear's nine projects encompass pretty much everything you'd need for a fall wardrobe--except maybe one thing: eveningwear, which, it turns out, isn't out of the question for the brand. "It's possible," Takizawa told us. "We could try to create something [for evening] from Uniqlo's philosophy."

In addition to Uniqlo's whole lab of people focused on creating technological fabrics, the brand has Nicola Formichetti upping the style ante. The designer's recent departure from Mugler likely freed up some time for him to work more closely with Uniqlo. Formichetti styled yesterday's presentation--which included dozens of mannequins wearing a variety of elaborate headpieces--and even briefly stopped by. We feel his personal aesthetic was most evident in the Flannel Project, which had a very strong grunge vibe and was definitely our favorite.

According to WWD, Uniqlo's got some major plans for U.S. expansion, including as many as 20 new stores in 2014 alone. Expect more awesome designer collabs as well. According to the trade, Uniqlo's head honchos have been meeting with several designers while in New York.

Click through for some of our favorite looks from the Fall 2013 Lifewear collection.

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