October 19 2011
The marriage between Jil Sander and Uniqlo seemed a designer/high-street match made in heaven. The Japanese giant, known for its good quality basics in spare modern shapes, driven by innovative fabric technology, is on the right wavelength for the mother of minimalism, who seemed very happy to make her ideas more accessible. The mix works brilliantly, and for the past three years aficionados of both sexes have keenly awaited each season’s deliveries of her subtly different, interesting designs offering a great quality-to-price ratio.
But freelance design contracts rarely seem longer than two years and Thursday October 20 sees the final delivery of Sander’s +J label arriving at Uniqlo’s Oxford Street, London, flagship store. Expect not just queues but weeping and gnashing of teeth – few designer tie-ups have produced such well-made, timeless clothes (shirts from the original collection are still daily staples in my wardrobe) and the star pieces in the winter range, in deep, not-quite-black shades, exemplify its quality and show why we will miss it.
The very best are in extremely limited supply (as few as 24 pieces) so are as rare as anything Sander produced under her own label – high-street collector’s items offering real exclusivity at very reasonable prices. A beautifully structured, subtly seamed day-to-evening dress in techno satin (third from left in picture, £130), a sleeveless tunic version in black or olive (far left in picture, £130) two interesting skirts (bargains at £39.90), a three-way coat in either wool flannel or down-filled nylon (far right in picture, £179.90) and a double-breasted cashmere mix coat (second from left in picture, £249.90) are the absolute picks. Many items from the wider range will be available online from 1am but the most limited pieces will require an early-bird visit to Oxford Street.