S/ Was There: UNIQLO and Alexander Wang HeatTech Collection

It’s been 10 years and “a few grey hairs” since Alexander Wang last partnered with UNIQLO. The American designer, is the first to take on a collaboration with UNIQLO’s HeatTech line, and it was his idea to do so. Both UNIQLO and Wang knew that their second time working together needed to be innovative in its approach and not just another collaboration. After careful consideration (and many phone calls asking if he was ready, according to Yuki Katsuta, Global Head of Research and Design at UNIQLO) they finally came to the conclusion that the creative approach needed to be HeatTech. “HeatTech is one of our signature fabrics which rooted in functionality and technology. The excitement over this project is that it’s the first time we can hybrid wearability and creativity, which is easy to say, but I think is the most difficult challenge,” says Katsuta. The collection features an assortment of made-for-all inner wear with HeatTech technology. From underwear to an array of bodysuits, the pieces come in black, white and grey with the occasional signature Alexander Wang neon pop, all designed to make you feel good, look good, and keep warm when conditions apply.

The launch of the anticipated line took place in a well-suited frozen fantasy at DCTV in New York City  where Alexander Wang, John C. Jay, UNIQLO’s President of Global Creative, and Tadashi Yanai, Founder and President of UNIQLO sat in conversation style to discuss the collaboration and collection. We spoke with Alexander Wang and Yuki Katsuta to get better insight on the details of the collection and what it means to be working together again 10 years later.

What were some personal touches that you added while designing to make it seem like more of your collection as well?

Alexander Wang: We did a lot of different finishes on the fabric but I’d say, it’s very discreet in a lot of the garment printing of the made-for-all, but I felt the personal touch was the sign off. We placed it in spots where little tattoos would be but they’re very subtle. It was a nice little wink in terms of different placement. Other than the underwear band which is slightly hiding it, slightly exposing it, the rest is very, very subtle.  For example, for the long sleeve pullover, we took away the armholes and added darting to create something that felt much more fluid and created a different expression of something that can feel everyday. Working with the UNIQLO team was an incredible experience, the amount of people that pay attention to the most minute details is incredible. Even when I used to work in a couture atelier in Paris, and you’d think about the amount of people it took to create something grandeur. And then something that is so boiled down and distilled into its purest essence takes a lot of work [as well] and that was an incredible process to be a part of.

Yuki Katsuta: “Alex did so many details. The surface of design is simple, so we need to have those kinds of detailed ideas and techniques. The excitement of the project was when Alex gave us so many new detailed ideas that make for better products, I think that was kind of the beauty of this process.

Alexander Wang: The editing process was hard.

What does it mean to both of you to be working together again 10 years later?

YK: Since I met him for the first time 12 years ago, I always admired his talent and year by year his talent has been getting bigger and bigger. I always thought he is such a deep thinker and he is one of the smartest designers in the world. Before you can think about a design you have to think about how people change in their lives, how people change their way of thinking, after that we have to think of what we need for them and I think I can see [Alex], he’s always thinking of that kind of change. I believe he has so many followers because people understand that he thinks about their future and I think that’s a great thing. When I saw him 10 years ago, he had a great start but after 10 years, his talent is getting deeper and wider.

AW: “Diddo. [laughter] The UNIQLO family has been something beyond our first collaboration. Yuki, Mr. Yanai, and I have stayed in touch, we’ve gone to dinner, we’ve had teas, we’ve just constantly been in touch. We appreciated each other as individuals and creative people trying to constantly push the conversation forward, it’s incredible that I’ve been given the opportunity to reunite and create this with them.”

YK: We’re very happy. I knew one day we would make a collaboration together again but we’re very happy to do this again in a new stage.

View the gallery for a look at the full collection, which will be available for purchase in stores and on the UNIQLO mobile app in November.