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The Art and Science of Lifewear: Uniqlo debuts exhibition in Paris

By Sharon Camara

28 Sep 2018

Interested in learning more about the technology behind Uniqlo’s knitwear? The Japanese casual apparel brand, best known for its cashmere items, is holding its very first exhibition in Paris, titled “The Art and Science of Lifewear: Creating a New Standard in Knitwear”. Set to run until September 29 at Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, the exhibition coincides with Paris Fashion Week.

Visitors can see the entire production process of Uniqlo’s cashmere, from the selection of the materials to the dying and washing phases, all the way to the final product. This marks the first time the brand holds a large-scale exhibit to share this information with the public.

“We present here our entire journey from material selection, craftsmanship and design, through the latest in production and finishing technologies”, said Tadashi Yanai, President & CEO of Fast Retailing, the company which owns the Uniqlo brand, in a statement.

FashionUnited was among the first news outlets to visit the exhibition ahead of its opening.

Slow Fashion

Since its launch in 1984, Uniqlo has become one of Japan’s most successful apparel brands worldwide, thanks to the concept of ‘Slow Fashion’. “Slow Fashion is the apparel equivalent of Slow Cooking. The idea is that quality products take time to be made, so we take our time”, said John C. Clay, Uniqlo’s creative director, to FashionUnited. “Although our brand belongs to a company called ‘Fast Retailing’ and the industry has coined the term ‘fast fashion’, Uniqlo is anything but ‘fast fashion’! We are a company which innovates in a fast-paced manner, but we don’t follow ephemeral trends”.

Uniqlo and sustainability

Part of the exhibition focuses on the “wholegarment” technology, which employs three-dimensional silhouettes to design seam-free knitwear with Japan’s Shima Seiki advanced knitting machines. This installation gives visitors an insightful look into the future of Uniqlo’s knitted fabrics. This area also features four screens which showcase what the brand’s factory looks like from the inside, allowing visitors to pay it a virtual visit.

“Sustainability has two meanings for us. First, it means using fair trade and organic materials, saving water etc, which is something we do our best to improve on. But sustainability also means offering products that last -- and that’s exactly what we do. Our knitwear can be worn for five, ten, twenty years. What’s the use in making “sustainable” clothing if it’ll be thrown in the trash within a year?”, said Yuki Katsuta San, head of Research & Development at Uniqlo.

The exhibition, which spans over two floors, also unveils capsule collections developed in collaboration with three labels: Maison Labiche, Keur Paris and Andrea Crews. Those interested in purchasing the pieces are able to do so in an exclusive pop-up store.

This article was first published in French at FashionUnited.fr. Author: Sharon Camara. Translated and edited by Marjorie van Elven.

Pictures: FashionUnited