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Uniqlo - LifeWear and the lifestyle it sells

Uniqlo sells clothes. They are not unique in that. Their clothes are not unique either, they make comfortable clothes with a slightly utilitarian aesthetic. Their LifeWear collection, well-designed basics designed for everyday, particularly embodies this.

Where they are different is in their adverts. Working with Droga5, they have grown further and further away from focusing on clothes in the past few years. Recently, they have partnered with Solange Ferguson to release a 4 minute video that does not reference any clothes at all. Titled ‘Metatronia’ [1], it incorporates dance and sculpture to explore themes of creation and space. 

It takes a bit of time to connect the content to the brand. As a piece of art, it’s striking and vaguely hypnotic. As an advert, it’s a bit confusing at first, and takes considerably more thought than most branded content I’ve seen recently. Happily it is both art and advert, premiering at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles on the 13th of April. [1]

However, this is a not a total leap into the abstract for Uniqlo. Their previous campaigns with Droga5 have been moving in this direction since 2016, when their first global TV campaign was launched.  “The Science of LifeWear” asked us to consider “why do we get dressed?” The voiceover muses on possible reasons, over footage of a man running to meet a woman. It’s gentle and focused on people and the functionality of clothing. This philosophical but still practical campaign was a statement of intent, leading into the next incarnation of LifeWear advertising...

In early 2017 “Because of Life, We Made LifeWear” was introduced. Again working with Droga5, this incorporated dance and movement, focusing on specific products and creating narratives about their role in life. In my opinion, the best of these is “Wireless Bra”, a playful and vibrant advert in which women dance unnaturally and jerkily to an upbeat punk song. At the end, we are exhorted to “move like you’re not supposed to”. The items featured are almost an afterthought, only mentioned at the end. This feels like the most natural progression towards Metatronia of the three, showing what clothes can do to support the wearer, rather than stealing the show.

These are some excellent examples of selling a lifestyle rather than a product. As Uniqlo’s abstract campaigns have grown increasingly detached from the mundanity of actually buying clothes, you are not just buying a jumper, you are buying into this idea of LifeWear and its accompanying principles. The adverts are aspirational, but also far more fun and unusual that typically found. They showcase not particularly extravagant fun clothes, but paint a picture of fun life filled with movement and creativity instead. They send the message that the clothes don’t create this lifestyle, they just make it easier to live it.

As they have moved away from actively advertising clothes, they have moved closer to the brand’s message, of good quality, versatile clothes made to live in. As they put it on their website,

“UNIQLO is more than just a clothing brand. But a way of thinking. A steady consciousness of constant change, diversity, and the challenging of conventions.

UNIQLO believes that everyone can benefit from simple, well-designed clothes. Because if all people can look and feel better every day, then maybe the world can be a little better too” [3]

Indeed. Uniqlo obviously take their clothes seriously but are aware that at the end of the day, a jumper is just a jumper. Something to keep you warm that you can go about your day in and doesn’t restrict you. Clothes should be made for living in and having fun in. These ad campaigns capture this, and that’s why they’re the perfect fit.

[1] https://hammer.ucla.edu/solange/
[2] https://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/295900/why-do-we-get-dressed-uniqlo-has-the-answer.html
[3] https://www.uniqlo.com/uk/en/company/about_uniqlo.html

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