Alexander Wang may be the most fun designer in fashion (at least in terms of his parties), so it’s not really surprising that he’s managed to turn banal garments like underwear and long johns into home runs for Uniqlo. His Heattech collection for Uniqlo was a neon-green success, and for summer, the designer is coming out with an Airism collection.
To celebrate the launch, Uniqlo has set up a pop-up on the corner of Houston and Lafayette Streets in Soho. It’s essentially a walk-in bubble where you can win discounts (while the balloons containing discounts last). If you’re up for it, it’s open until 8 p.m. today. But the core collection is also on sale now, to keep you cool during the insufferable city summer. How you wear the pieces is up to you — but we spoke with Wang about his ideas.
Tell me a little bit about the inspiration for the collection.
There’s a lot of inspiration from the ’80s, Bodymap, and workout wear. We’re launching the lightest version of Airism they’ve ever done, which is a sheer hosiery material. We’re also exploring a new material for men, which is kind of a cotton-faced jersey. The Airism naturally has a very silky hand, so I was struggling with how to present it in a context that wasn’t silky feminine pieces.
What are some of your favorite pieces?
The circular knit items for women. We did traditional briefs and bras but finished them really beautifully and seamlessly, but I love the crop top and bike shorts and the baby tee. They feel like items you can wear to the gym or out at night or with a pair of jeans. The collection has a lot of range and also has the wicking properties and does all the innovative things Airism naturally brings.
What are the places you imagine customers wearing the collection to? You can wear them either as foundation pieces or if you’re running to the gym and you have the little T-shirt on, it’s made with the same technology, so it’s comfy to work out in. Or if you’re out at night dancing and getting sweaty it’ll do the same thing. Wear it on a date, wear it out dancing, wear it to the gym — it molds to your daily routine.
When I think of underwear as outerwear, I think of the early 2000s, which are really having a moment. What do you think of that revival? I’ve always loved underwear as kind of a code of dressing. The two biggest innovations that influenced me were Hanes and Calvin Klein. In the last few collections we’ve done these really wide, elastic-underwear-influenced bands that looked like corsets. Like, it’s a little bit erotic to wear your bra as a top when you go out, but to do it in a way that feels super modern and easy so people aren’t like Oh my God that girls’ topless. People aren’t locked into old constraints anymore. There’s a lot of options now.
Yeah. Like those denim janties, have you seen those?
Laughs No. Oh the Y-Project ones? Yeah yeah yeah.