Sunday, October 4, 2009

Jil Sander for Uniqlo

Spring/summer 2005 was the last collection the fashion world saw from Jil Sander - until this Thursday. In November 2004, she walked out on the company she founded in 1973 and the label (then owned by Prada) has, since 2005, continued under Belgian designer Raf Simons.

Fast-forward five years and Jil Sander is back and collaborating with Uniqlo. The minimalist design, clean lines and subdued colour palette are all still there. The only difference is the price - Sander's +J collection for Uniqlo sells for a fraction of what her once own-label would have cost. So, for shoppers like you and me, who wouldn't have been able to afford one iota of the Jil Sander label of the 80s and 90s, we can now dress in her designs from head to toe.

So, what of this latest designer/high-street collaboration, coming as it does from a woman who, a year and a half ago, wasn't even aware of the global Japanese high-street chain?

Well, it undeniably says Jil Sander. As I emerged from the red-roped queue at Uniqlo's London Oxford Street store, a sea of utilitarian black, navy and grey greeted me - as distinct to Sander as the one-in-every-colour cashmeres and tees are to Uniqlo.

The cut is simple, the tailoring is smart and the fabric is reasonably good quality. It is a coup for Uniqlo to get Sander on board - if only to broaden its expertise from casual clothing to tailoring. But, like many designer/high-street collaborations, the prices are a tad inflated. And when an androgynous single-breasted jacket is selling for the same price as some of the coats, it doesn't take a genius to recognise the collection's best buys.

If you want a piece of Jil Sander, the smart choice is the coats. Selling for between £79.99 to £89.99, there's a wide range of styles from the classic trench to the pea coat to the long military styles and - my personal fave - a beautiful knee-length, double-breasted wool number (below, £89.99).

Other items like the skinny jeans (£29.99) and merino-wool sweaters (£24.99) are nice enough, but take away the +J label and these are classics that you can get elsewhere on the high street. No, the coats are the real steal. A Jil Sander winter statement for just two figures? Now that's a bargain.

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