Nigo Revamps Uniqlo’s UT Line
Japan’s very own mega-retailer, Uniqlo, has a fresh new tagline for its t-shirt line, UT. The newest collection, released for spring 2014, aims to reinvent the classic graphic t-shirt under the theme, "The New Model T." The renaissance of the UT brand began when it appointed its very first creative director, Nigo, founder and creator of popular streetwear brand A Bathing Ape (Bape). Expectedly, the fashion innovator took something as simple as a t-shirt and found ways to make it original and interesting. Using his expertise and knowledge of construction, graphics and textiles, Nigo created a “new standard” of the original t-shirt, making it a much more appealing and versatile piece of clothing.
We were able to catch up with the fashion mogul here in Tokyo, which was one of the stops he made on a worldwide tour to debut the collection. Nigo gave us the scoop on how he is bringing a new standard to the pop-culture themed t-shirts, and whether or not we will see a collaboration between Bape and Uniqlo in the future.
As the first creative director of UT, what was your vision and creative drive behind the collection?
The concept is a “New Model T,” which is very much about launching a new standard for Uniqlo UT. For 11 years Uniqlo has been designing and manufacturing UT with the same shape and cut, but with my joining I believe it has started to change. It really is about bringing a new standard and an overall change to the t-shirt itself.
For your first collection, what changes have you made so far?
I have made changes in three areas. One is with the construction, with the body, by revaluating the shape of the t-shirt. I made it seamless or round shaped, more tubular. Secondly, I used a thicker yarn for manufacturing the t-shirts, making the t-shirts themselves thicker. Lastly, I really wanted to go up to the limit in the print space on the t-shirt, to maximize the attractiveness of the graphics.
I notice a lot of collaborations in the collection, such as Looney Tunes, American movie characters, Star Wars, Hello Kitty, etc. What is your favorite piece from this collection?
It’s a bit difficult to choose. The collection I have here was from a choice of 1,000 different t-shirt designs. I narrowed my favorites down from that number.
What other collaborations do you see in the future?
I am just starting to think about the 2015 season, so I haven’t decided yet. For me it is all about looking at what new contents we can make available; for example, Hello Kitty from the Sanrio company. I’m close friends with Ms. Yamaguchi, the designer of Hello Kitty, so the way I have worked with her for the current design is by asking her if she can make certain contents for me, and the designer gets it done.
For all of the Bape fans out there, I have to ask. Will we see any Bape and Uniqlo collaborations in the future?
There is 100 percent, no chance of collaborating with A Bathing Ape.
The UT spring/summer 2014 collection is available in stores now. The newest collection features vintage logos from iconic brands, Peanuts characters, one-of-a-kind Hello Kitty designs, classic American movie characters such as ET and Darth Vadar, Iolani Hawaiian classics, Disney favorites and a number of others for men, women and kids.