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A Visit to the Country with JW ANDERSON X UNIQLO

AW ’21 takes you to the wonderful word of Beatrix Potter

A meeting of minds (and heritages), British designer JW ANDERSON, and Japanese clothing-brand UNIQLO have, once again, fused spirits. For their latest AW 21’ collection, nostalgia was key, as the (now iconic) duo came together to create from the inspirational pool within the world of Beatrix Potter. The collection, described by Anderson himself as a ‘pop culture’ revival, showcases some of our favourite Potter illustrations, including Peter Rabbit and – lest not forget – the iconic garden. Designed with individualism in mind, this collection is about “products which have to stand the test of time”: loving, living and looking good, whether it be on the streets of London or the countryside. In light of the new collection, Glamcult spoke with the designer, Jonathan Anderson, about the collection, his work with UNIQLO, and the radical mind of Beatrix Potter.

Hey Jonathan! How is it going? So nice to be speaking with you.
Very good thank you! I just got back from Paris, so it’s very nice to be back in London.

I love the new UNIQLO A/W 21’ collaboration collective: a true homage to the British countryside! What led you down this ‘rabbit hole’? (Pardon the pun).
I was looking at the idea of nostalgia (in a positive way). As a child I was obsessed with Beatrix Potter, so I liked the idea of using her work as an almost ‘pop-culture’ reference. In this way, taking the imagery she created in the early 20th century and placing it within today’s landscape. Even a cityscape. I wanted something comfortable and cosy, something you felt like you could wear in the house or on the street and would still look dynamic.

Beatrix Potter is such a British Icon. In many ways, this is not only a love letter to British fashion but also Potter herself.
I think because she is so incredibly famous, we forget how important she was in terms of British art and how her story-telling and narrative were groundbreaking. In a way, she was a radical (even if people look at her work and don’t perceive it that way today). In the period, to gain the traction she did! Victorian Britain wasn’t a place for women, so to be published the way she was, was, truly, groundbreaking.

Radical indeed! You also shot the campaign at her house, right?
Yes – It created this amazing backdrop for the collection. It also gave us this amazing cultural angle to it as well. It suited the vibe – looking to nature and grounding ourselves again with friends etc. There was a transcendence from the house to the outdoor world.

The collection is, within its essence, about high-quality, yet, everyday fashion. There is an approachability to the pieces, and a feeling they will fit everyone’s wardrobe. Is this the UNIQLO magic?
For sure, and I think that’s why I have always continued with UNIQLO! Because it is so important fashion is accessible, and approachable on all different levels. I don’t think design should be compromised – it should be the best of the best. With UNIQLO, the materials are amazing, the manufacturing is fantastic and there is, as you say, this element of perfection (or magic). The products stand the test of time.

Similar to yourself, UNIQLO radiates beauty through thoughtful creation. Maybe a synonymous elegance? I am trying to avoid the word ‘minimalist’, as that is so often overused within Japanese design…
Yes, I think that there is a protection of heritage pieces, and yeah, the Japanese are amazing at reducing things to their essence. I try to do the same, considering, “what is JW ANDERSON in a global context?”

Have you found the answer?
I always think there will be this energy of storytelling through culture. There will always be this idea of a shared wardrobe. For me, people can wear whatever they want to wear! This was the basis of me starting in fashion, no matter your gender. It’s all about feeling comfortable and happy in your clothing.

A sentiment that has always run through every JW ANDERSON collection and collaboration. For example, here, all the pieces are ultimately unisex and wearable for everyone. Also… season-less.
Always. You have to design a product that stands the test of time. I believe there’s two types of product: products that go in and out of fashion or, products that last (like with UNIQLO). And clothing is, for me, as simple as an imitation of life. A happy feeling. There is a cosiness, a preciousness to the moment I am always trying to capture.

Completely. Now, as this collection comes at the (nearing)-end of 2021, what are you looking forward to for the future?
I am looking forward to Christmas. It has been a heavy couple of years, so I hope 2022 is less chaotic. It feels like things are clearing…



Images courtesy of UNIQLO

Words by Grace Powell