Fashion’s love affair with all things French continues with Uniqlo’s latest Lifewear launch.
On Monday, the Fast Retailing-owned fashion giant unveiled a new French-infused installment of Lifewear, its long-running clothing line embodying the “Japanese values of simplicity, quality and longevity,” it says. The elevated basics label reunited with perennial collaborator and French model Ines de la Fressange, infusing her chic sensibilities and refined aesthetic into the fall/winter capsule of outerwear, dresses, skirts, knits, accessories, tops and pants.
The line is rife with nostalgic nods to Rossinière, the Swiss village nestled in the Lake Geneva district whose meadows and mountain valleys have inspired artists for generations. It’s also home to the Grand Chalet villa, a historical cultural heritage site where the late Polish-French modern artist Balthus, known for painting sexually charged portraits of pubescent girls, spent his final days—and where de la Fressange, who launched her own eponymous brand in 2013, retreats for Christmas holiday getaways.
Uniqlo says the clothing and accessories created for this 48-item Lifewear drop are “ideally suited to a relaxing holiday in such bountiful nature.” Earthy hues like camel and mossy green center the collection, where pops of fuchsia punch up classic tones of navy, tweed and eggshell. Lamb’s wool knits, 3D-knitted dresses, cashmere-blend ponchos, relaxed, menswear-inspired suiting, masculine-leaning jackets and berets are coupled with sophisticated check patterns and feminine, floral details.
Launching on Sept. 16 in select Uniqlo U.S. stores and on Uniqlo.com, the collection will retail for $9.90 to $149.90.
Uniqlo is facing a French probe into potential links to Xinjiang, where forced labor is widely believed to be employed in the region’s cotton output, which amounts to 85 percent of China’s total production of the fiber. The Japanese clothing giant ran into trouble earlier this year when U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) banned a shipment of cotton shirts from penetrating the borders of the world’s largest economy. Customs said Uniqlo violated a Withhold Release Order on cotton produced by the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC), its subordinates and affiliates, as well as any products made in whole or in part from that cotton, such as textiles and apparel.
When asked if cotton-made items in the new Lifewear collection might face similar challenges with CBP, Uniqlo pointed to a statement Fast Retailing issued in the wake of the January imbroglio, reiterating its “zero-tolerance policy” for forced labor and human-rights abuses. It also noted that cotton used in the blocked shipment was sourced from outside of China but manufactured within China’s borders.
Uniqlo “looks forward to continued support and cooperation in connection with our ongoing importation of responsibly-sourced products,” it added. “We will continue to work with the CBP and take the appropriate measures to ensure the continued smooth importation of our products.”
Editor’s Note: The article was updated at 1:46 p.m. on Aug. 16 to reflect Uniqlo’s comments on cotton sourcing.