Marnie. It’s a name you inherently associate with a playful and whimsical approach to fashion. Hand-crafted textures; idiosyncratic proportions; saturated and lysergic hues. Indeed, this is a house where eclecticism, irreverence and romantic intuition are at the heart of its ethos – a place where you’d head for a truly distinct fashion artefact, rather than your day-to-day basics. That might be about to change, though, thanks to a new collaboration with Uniqlo.
Indeed, the encounter of a relatively fashion-initiated Milanese house with one of the world’s biggest powerhouses in street fashion is one that may raise a few eyebrows on first reading. How, after all, do two brands that – on the surface at least – have so little in common work together to create a successful collection? All right, was the answer both sides found out, with the differences between them sparking clashes that spurred the development of the collection.
It was Marni’s pronounced eccentricity that first caught the eye of Yukihito Katsuta, R&D manager of Uniqlo. “Generally speaking, Uniqlo has historically focused on making practical and functional clothing,” he continues, “We are of course proud to offer products that also incorporate a sense of refined design, but the use by Marnished with vivid colors and patterns and architectural designs, is something Uniqlo doesn’t have,” helping to bring a new sense of dynamism and experimental flair to the global brand.
The resulting collection offers a range of weatherproof pajama sets, shirts, suits and even outerwear that fuse Uniqlo’s clean-lined silhouettes and advanced textile technologies with unmistakable Marni visuals. Floating wide-legged pajama pants are printed with seemingly hand-painted gingham, royal blue poplin shirts crisp with broad brushstroke flowers. Bubble skirts feature intricate, swirling cuts that make the pieces gently billow with every step, and brightly-hued waterproof parkas have subtle tulip silhouettes.
To learn more about this delightfully anticipated meeting of the minds, we sat down with Marni’s Creative Director Francesco Risso in Milan to discuss the process behind the final product, bringing texture to flat surfaces, and her favorite looks.
Hello Francesco! First of all, congratulations! Did you really manage to create something that maintains Marni’s eccentricity, but is still very accessible? Thank you! It was really a great opportunity. Even if Uniqlo produces a lot of clothes, I must say that the quality and the finishes are impeccable, and at such democratic prices. I’m really happy that this has come to life, not only for Uniqlo to flourish in a new way, but also for Marni to introduce herself to a new world.
**Are you a big Uniqlo fan yourself?
**Yes, I have always been a customer. There are some classics I’ve bought over the years, like a high neck jumper – it’s kind of cinematic, in a way, that I buy them from Uniqlo, because you usually can’t find them at less going to a vintage shop! There’s just something interesting about Uniqlo’s recipe – it’s a very pragmatic and pure design, but looks like it’s from another time.
** What was the starting point when you worked on this collection?
**The first and most immediate thing is that we ended up in such different places. On the one hand, Uniqlo is a company that works according to very strong codes of pragmatism, purity, minimalism, it is the daily life and not the exaggeration of the look, but rather the exaltation of the personality of the one who wears it. And then on the other hand, you have us – we’re basically in a continuing pursuit of chaos and fantasy. We also work tirelessly with our hands in a very sensory way – it’s about expressing the hand of the individual. It’s our way of exalting a kind of humanity through what we do. It was an immediate and strong connection – we had to try to translate some of our strong shapes into Uniqlo materials, which yielded some interesting surprises. And also, we applied our textures on the very pragmatic parts of Uniqlo, which allowed new perceptions.
Well, clashes and contrasts can be productive, can’t they? Yes very! And here they generated opportunities to learn from each other, and I would say that’s the greatest thing that can come from working together. It’s not just about putting two logos together. When we collaborate with members of the Marni community, it’s really about creating a work together that evolves with openness, so I feel really lucky to have been able to bring that to this collaboration.
What do you think Marni’s spirit is, and how does it come across here? I always like to think of Marni as a place where you can find your own home, even in the midst of eclecticism. We always seek to engage people in a dialogue when developing ideas, and our stores are containers for those ideas. The way we create collections also goes through a lot of study – not just on the main theme we’re exploring, but also on why things happen in our society, or why they happened years ago. . It’s a beautiful learning process for us, and it allows us to make clothes that can bring us together, it’s the most beautiful desire we have in the Marni family. I think that same desire has been introduced into the collection here – there’s a bit of a chaotic mix of pajamas, suits and outerwear, but it’s also very soft and very domestic. It doesn’t impose anything, and I feel like it’s a step towards bringing people together, finding a way to connect people through a very human way of carrying things. It’s not about going against the body or being disruptive, it’s about being softer, being gentler.
How was the process of working with Uniqlo on this?
Their team was incredibly supportive, incredibly prepared and, technically speaking, they were masters. There are many examples of large companies the size of Uniqlo where quality and ideas are compromised because of the way the wind blows, but I find Uniqlo’s sense of consistency hugely inspiring. It was always a nice surprise to receive these impeccable products. And it was great to see that this precision isn’t just a design intent, it’s actually built into the way they work.
**Hand feel has always been an integral part of your vision for Uniqlo – how did you bring that to this collaboration?
** What was interesting is that the Uniqlo world is not about textures. These are actually very sharp surfaces. So we brought textures into the equation through hand-painted prints, and this juxtaposition of those flat surfaces and a sense of hand that comes through visually rather than tactilely.
What are you wearing from the collection? And or? In fact, I wore it while we were doing it in the studio! There’s one particular pair of jeans that I wear all the time, and I can’t wait to wear the rest this summer.
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