After introducing alterna-designer Alexander Wang to the Broadway-bound tourist, Uniqlo has once again looked toward emerging New Yorkers for its Designer Invitation Project. Opening Ceremony (alongside Steven Alan, Shipley & Halmos and Gilded Age) has been tapped to produce a young and wearable menswear collection, which hits worldwide this March. While they have established an international brand and retail locations in both L.A. and New York, designers Carol Lim and Humberto Leon found themselves working on an unfamiliar scale. “We had to design with the knowledge that the line would hit hundreds of stores,” explains Leon. But Uniqlo, whose past projects have included avants like Philip Lim and Felipe Oliveira Baptista, encouraged the Soho-based brand. “Even though it’s a mass produced collection, we included little details that are Opening Ceremony signatures, like originally developed pastel plaids, hidden pen pockets and custom buttons,” he says.
OC is no stranger to collaborations either: last year’s much praised Chloe Sevigny collection is still around (with more on the way), and the duo have worked with everyone from Pendleton to Tretorn. The megastore’s only requirement was that Lim and Leon stay within Uniqlo’s mandate: functionality and a commitment to fabric technology. Leon says, “We imagined a scenario where a guy wearing the collection goes to work in the city, then leaves town for a weekend hiking trip. We wanted to preserve the feeling of utilitarianism.” Contrast-collar work shirts paired solid cotton cardigans keep testament, but the quirky pastel prints and high-rise trousers retain a pleasant hint of Soho’s Howard Street.