Here’s something you might not know about Jonathan Anderson: He’s a self-confessed Uniqlo super-fan. One of London’s most innovative and forward-thinking designers, Anderson is known for upending classics—including the cylinder-heel pump and gold barbell–pierced handbag he created for his own label—and for his sculptural experimentations with leather for the Spanish luxury house Loewe. Yet, he asserts, “All my T-shirts are Uniqlo, all my sweaters, my underwear, all my socks.” The 33-year-old fashion clairvoyant, who drew critical ire for a 2013 runway show featuring men in ruffled shorts long before gender fluidity became a fashion trope, has “massive admiration” for what the streamlined-basics behemoth has achieved: “It’s very difficult to reduce garments to their essence.” This fall, Anderson teams up with Uniqlo on a capsule collection of fancifully updated British heritage garments for women and men, including a trench with supersize tartan cuffs, an English military sweater with bold gold buttons, and a Nehru-collar cotton shirt with the designer’s signature ruffle dangling from its placket. Here, Anderson’s five flexible rules to live (and dress) by.
Advertisement – Continue Reading Below
1. No look is too outrageous if you believe in a character who’d wear it.
“Prada stylist Manuela Pavesi, whom I met working in the brand’s visual merchandising department during my time at London College of Fashion, taught me that the essence of style is mixing reference points: putting a men’s dress shirt, a pajama pant, a trench coat, a sock, and a sandal into a fashion melting pot, and somehow making sense of it.”
2. Kill categories—just look at the clothes.
“Growing up in Magherafelt, a small town in Northern Ireland, I used to go to the local shop with my mother. She’d be like, ‘That’s on sale—it’s a women’s large, but you could wear it and no one would know.’ So it’s her thriftiness I’ve got to thank for my obsession with gender-fluid clothing. Always remember that whether something is in a men’s department or women’s doesn’t make any difference. It’s who are going to make a garment work.”
Advertisement – Continue Reading Below
3. You can never have too much cashmere.
“I have more than 50 Uniqlo cashmere sweaters, which might actually be too many. One day, one of the girls in my office came in wearing a Uniqlo cashmere funnel-neck she’d bought in an extralarge; I thought that was brilliant. We created an extralong version with ties at the cuff that give it a slight feminine twist. On a woman, it could be a dress, but on a guy, it could just be an oversize sweater. There’s something so sensual about cashmere.”
4. Price is irrelevant to determining taste.
“There’s no longer any differentiation between ‘designer’ and ‘mass’ fashion brands. Today consumers go to different brands for different reasons. I always wanted to do a JW Anderson interpretation of a puffer jacket, cut like a tailored fireman’s coat. For me, Uniqlo makes the best puffers because they’ve pioneered this ULD [ultralight down] nylon fabrication that’s thin and warm. What’s amazing about collaboration as a creative platform is that it democratizes fashion in a very important way.”
5. Don’t be afraid to go it alone.
“When I was a kid, we used to say ‘Hoover’ for what Americans call a ‘vacuum cleaner.’ As in, ‘Jonathan, can you Hoover the dining room?’ But now we say ‘Dyson.’ I think it’s remarkable how when Sir James Dyson perfected that appliance’s functionality by creating the world’s first bagless vacuum cleaner, he couldn’t sell his invention. So he set up his own manufacturing company, and the rest, as they say, is history. It would be great if my name came to mean ‘shared wardrobe.’ I don’t know if it works that way in fashion, but you never know.”
This article originally appears in the October 2017 issue of ELLE.