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Jil Sander on Minimalism, Maximalism, and Her New Collaboration with Uniqlo

jil sander   runway milan fashion week menswear autumn winter 2013

Tullio M. PugliaGetty Images

The discussion in fashion regarding minimalism versus maximalism is an age-old debate. Do you Marie Kondo your silhouette or live for obtuse luxury? Not even 20 years ago, the fashion industry had a firmer chokehold on defining these choices. In 2021, our sartorial worldview became more democratized, but minimalism is not a trend. For Jil Sander, arguably the most defining character in creating minimalism as we know it, it is a lifestyle.

“As a mental exercise in pure living and clearing our mindscape, minimalism is alive and will probably become more prominent,” Sander told ELLE.com over email. “Minimalism as a lifestyle is very popular among the younger generations, creating less clutter, living in small interiors with little furniture, [and] eating in a mindful way.”

The German designer began her career as a magazine editor and shop owner before launching her eponymous label in 1968, showcasing her first runway in Paris in 1975. Though her reign as an industry leader didn’t gather steam until the ’90s, with iconic campaigns starring Supers like Linda Evangelista, capturing the essence of the decade. No one had the same elegance in simplification, discovering the nuance in a white button-down or front-pleated slacks. Without Sander’s deft understanding of deceptively simple clothing, there wouldn’t be Phoebe Philo, Catherine Holstein, or Daniel Lee.

After several returns and departures to and from her namesake label (she last left in 2015), Sander reignited a collaboration with Uniqlo, a brand she has partnered with since 2009. The +J collaboration officially resurfaced last year, but its fall-winter 2021 drop serves as a reminder that Sander still knows how to make damn good outerwear.

“I like what seems made for me, because it doesn’t obstruct me in any way by being complicated or superfluous,” she said. “My partnership with Uniqlo was the right thing for me at the right time […] To transfer the former core activities and know-how of a luxury brand to a fast fashion line made sense to me.”

jil sander uniqlo

An image from the +J campaign.

Courtesy

uniqlo jil sander

The collection includes both womenswear and menswear.

Courtesy of Uniqlo

The result is familiar, yet engaging. We’re seeing the same staples that made Sander a namesake in the industry: perfect wool blend coats, winged shirt dresses that nip at the waist, and, as a standout piece, a generous down vest that gently slopes in the back. The mass appeal of the collection is that it speaks to the basis of style, speaking to both her die-hard fans and shoppers who don’t know who Jil Sander is at all.

And while designer collaborations are becoming more popular in the industry, Sander is still wary of their value. “The distinguished handwriting of a designer has become less important in times where statistics and management strategies run the show,” she declared about the fad. “Artistic collaborations are one way of objectifying a collection from the start, making it transparent for arguments, reducing the idiosyncratic signature. Collaborations succeed best when product classics like a sneaker or an iconic handbag are reconceived or decorated by highly expressive artists.”

Sander’s distinguished handwriting remains in the abundantly wearable stamp she gives +J. In total, the collection includes 35 items for women and 26 for men, with prices ranging from $39.90 to $299.90. FW21 drops today, Nov. 11, in stores nationwide and online. Has anyone ever mastered the wool turtleneck better than Sander? We don’t think so, and thankfully in 2021, you can actually buy it at Uniqlo.

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