In menswear, one man’s mayonnaise is another man’s salad cream. And so it is with the incoming Uniqlo x White Mountaineering collaboration.
It’s not a fashionable thing to say, but think high street versions of ‘designer’ gear are rubbish. All of them. Without exception.
I remember back in 2008 when my beloved Comme des Garçons got into bed with H&M. Dutifully I bought deep into it and convinced myself my bulging plastic bags were straining with grails. Legit Comme, but at a tenth of the price. This feeling lasted until I got home.
I tried it all on. The nylon was thin, the buttons were cheap, the stitching shoddy. Things were wonky that (even keeping in mind this was Comme) shouldn’t have been. The realisation that luxury clothing starts with luxury fabrication was inescapable. Even my adoration for Comme couldn’t save this junk. Back to the store it all went.
Doubtless, when it hits stores on October 28, the Uniqlo x White Mountaineering collab will find some takers, presumably those looking for an affordable gateway into Japanese gorp. But to my eyes the collection looks pretty tawdry. A bit of trim around a collar, a zip in a place that would have been surprising in 2003 and oceans of saggy fleece — destination Yakmandu.
I don’t mean to sound like Dr fucking Pomposity, but genuinely, I’d rather have one decent piece every six months than the entire Uniqlo x White Mountaineering collection. There’s no shortcut to building a strong wardrobe. Which is why I’d like to draw your attention to this standout from the current Unaffected collection.
Like the some of the Uniqlo x WM merch, this shirt/jacket will offer the faux-outdoorsman a quilted fix, but with kajillions more style.
It appears to share some DNA with Craig Green’s ubiquitous Quilted Skin Jacket, but I venture to suggest, this has a better shape, more interesting details and is fundamentally, just cooler. Sorry Craig.
I won’t list-off all the details because let’s face it, it’s boring for us all, especially me. But I will say it’s got 3M Thinsulate insulation, a two-way zip (crucial in my view) drawstrings and a couple of chunky pockets up front. I’m particularly drawn to the zig-zag quilting detail. It works as a decent metaphor for my indecision around going maskless in a pub, or choosing between a pack of Mint Clubs or Gold Bars. More importantly, it just looks good.
I can imagine standing in line at Pret wearing a Uniqlo x White Mountaineering quilted jacket going completely unnoticed.
On the other hand, I can imagine standing in line at Pret wearing this Unaffected jacket and I’d anticipate a large number of people would be wondering where I got it, while also assuming me to be both a man of urbane intelligence and a surprisingly athletic lover.
You just don’t get those kind of results on the high street for £69.90.