Forget J.Crew and Polo, UNIQLO is Crushing the Prep Style Game
Oversized oxfords, varsity knits and a smattering of plaid prints; you’d be forgiven for thinking modern fashion was stuck in a perpetualAaliyah music video, but the preppy renaissance is in full effect. In recent years, we’ve watched heritage brands like Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren return to their roots, playing off collegiate themes with tremendous success.
A sudden rise in interest for the ’90s prep aesthetic has even seen the revitalisation of former mainstays J.Crew and Brooks Brothers, however, for all the pedigree these iconic American labels possess, a Japanese disruptor is beating them at their own game. The new UNIQLO x JW Anderson Spring/Summer 2023 collection brings a modern sensibility to the classic style, replete with the kind of refined functionality that Japanese design is renowned for.
Looking straight out of the Cambridge dossier, the new collection has a distinctly British approach to prep style. Contrasting against the harsh typography and sweatshirt appeal of Tommy Hilfiger, UNIQLO and JW Anderson’s new lineup is headlined by rigid cuts and heavy cable knits. The Women’s Cricket Cardigan is arguably the stand-out piece, while the long-line silhouette with contrast piping provides a modern balance to a vintage-inspired garment.
The sportswear theme is a consistent one, albeit not all of the pieces exude the same traditional sensibility. For Spring/Summer 2023, UNIQLO has added a range of leggings, caps and activewear elements, all crafted using the brand’s classic AIRism fabric.
Remarkably, the new menswear side takes this one step further, crafting a new oversized blazer out of the quick-dry AirSense material. Lightweight, stretchable and highly durable, the performance fabric is designed to look like traditional textiles but act with the functionality of sportswear.
“This season reworks our idea of classic sportswear, such as a traditional cricket cardigan alongside sports leggings or hand-drawn traditional British sporting team motifs on utility shorts and more traditional knitted polo shirts,” creative director Jonathan Anderson said.
Admittedly, the new collection doesn’t boast the same level of production offered by Polo or J.Crew, but the argument for value can’t be understated. UNIQLO’s stellar lineup sits around the $59.90 mark for most garments, with the outerwear topping out at $129.90 Considering Tommy Hilfiger’s ambitious (and delightful) new collaboration with Pendleton Woolen Mills is pushing $1,200, the comparison is there to be made. Value-for-money might not be in the regular Cambridge attendee’s lexicon, but UNIQLO isn’t letting class tradition stand in the way of a good fit.
The new UNIQLO x JW Anderson Spring/Summer 2023 collection officially dropped on October 5. The full lineup is available at large format stores and online, while select pieces will be available across the UNIQLO store network.