11 years after her first collaboration with Uniqlo, Jil Sander has teamed up with the retailer yet again—returning with a collection for spring/summer 2021. Following a successful autumn/winter offering, this +J collection sees the German designer turning to the seasons as inspiration. From the “airy clarity” of spring to the “ink and indigo of summer nights”, Sander’s minimalist chops have remained steadfast in their poetry and simplicity.
It’s clear Uniqlo has the collaboration game down pat—minimalists at heart are likely already lining up for this highly anticipated collection as we speak. Like Sanders’ past collections for Uniqlo, this iteration of +J is a co-ed lineup of clean lines, crisp shirting and unfussy outerwear. Speaking exclusively to Vogue Singapore, Sanders shares what gets her in the zone of productivity, her go-to uniform and what fashion means to her today in the wake of COVID-19.
What can we expect from this collection?
The collection is conceived in the spirit of lightness and purity with the idea to energise regeneration and a fresh start. Carefully tailored cuts are sculptural and dynamic. Individual pieces can be superimposed creating interesting contrasts. Fabrics revolve around high-performance nylon with a papery touch, polyester silk material, SUPIMA® cotton, and quality selvedge denim. Colours are understated, based on a natural palette counterpointed by different shades of blue inspired by the northern lights.
What are some of your favourite pieces from this collection?
I hesitate to point out favourites, since the collection is conceived as a whole. Designs complement and enhance each other. Crucial pieces for this play of proportions are a generously cut long hooded coat from a pale grey texture and a subtly refined summer parka from polyester silk material.
What does your go-to uniform look like?
At the moment, it consists of selvedge jeans, a comfortable turtle-neck and platform trainers.
Take us through your creative process—whether it’s alone in your studio, or a specific playlist—what gets you in the zone of productivity and inspiration?
I don’t listen to music when I work. The clarity of the incoming light is enough to inspire me. In my studio, I am not alone, my assistants are constantly helping me in researching options, controlling prototypes, elaborating design ideas. I am a very verbal person, communicating, projecting and exchanging ideas. Inspiration comes from fabrics, and I have a large bank of possible cuts in my head. Slowly, the material takes shape and is altered and improved many times.
Your first collection with Uniqlo was in 2009. How has your approach to creative collaboration evolved since then?
In the last year, my collaboration with Uniqlo changed in a way, as we had to rely step by step on video conferences. It took time to get used to that, but I already knew the +J team and we managed bravely.
With the backdrop of COVID-19 and political, cultural and environmental change around the world, the way we view fashion has collectively gotten quieter and more considered. Your aesthetic sensibilities have always channelled this—what does fashion mean to you today?
I agree with your observation as to how fashion is perceived these days. I think it is not so bad that we recede from the great spectacle. But we need to find better ways that enable us to experience fashion in an analogue way, since it can’t be left to digital media which give only a surface idea. But I am convinced that we continue to look for vestimentary expressions of our mood and our values. Of course, environmental problems are a challenge that fashion production must address. I am confident that new solutions and possibilities will emerge from the questions which we have to solve. At the moment, I feel that my work responds to a need for sophistication and quiet dignity.
What were some of the challenges in putting this collection together?
The collection is quite concentrated which means that we worked intensively on making it interact and complement itself. It was a challenge to keep the message and compose a contemporary statement.
Finally, how do you think the way we dress will change moving forward?
As we observed in the present crisis, predictions are of no great impact. Once we are able to travel and socialize again, interest in fashion will surge. But how we will celebrate this alleviation of tension waits to be seen.
+J spring/summer 2021 is available online, at Uniqlo Orchard Central Flagship Store and Uniqlo ION Orchard from 19 March 2021. Selected items are available at all stores.