Front Row: Uniqlo Gives the Polo Shirt a Makeover

April 18th, 2013

UNIQLO IS MAKING A BIG BET on polo shirts. Walk into the stores and you will find stacks of them, striped, solid, piqué and otherwise. Hold out until next week and you will find even more.

In a twist on its seasonal collaborations with outside labels, Uniqlo has askedMichael Bastian, the designer of pricey, preppy men’s wear, to just riff on polo shirts. This is like askingDonna Karanto design something in black. Mr. Bastian came back with nearly 50 designs, including some very vibrant rugby stripes and others printed with patterns of dragonflies, cat figurines or Shiba Inu dogs. They will cost $ 19.90, or roughly half the price of a pocket square from Mr. Bastian’s signature collection.

“My obsession is trying to make them a little sexier, a little less nerdy,” Mr. Bastian said. “I’m always asking, ‘How do you give a guy a new reason to buy a polo?’ ”

With Mr. Bastian, the answer lies in the cut. Oh, you think Uniqlo has already mastered the slim fit? Mr. Bastian cut it down by another centimeter, to 51 (about 20 inches) from armpit to armpit. The placket should open exactly halfway between the neck and the sternum, he said. And there’s nothing worse than a sleeve that is a little too long or too loose.

“It should fit right above the biceps to give the illusion that you are just about to bust out of it,” Mr. Bastian said. (It might help to have biceps, but never mind.)

In another collaboration hitting stores next month, this time for women, Uniqlo has tapped the designers Erin Beatty and Max Osterweis of Suno, who came up with light cotton dresses with contrasting print borders and stretch denim. Those should be a little more forgiving.

Walter Van Beirendonck’s First American Exhibition

Elizabeth Lippman for The New York Times

Ready to Take His ‘Lust’ On the Road

WALTER VAN BEIRENDONCK, the button-pushing Belgian who affects a bear aesthetic off the runway (and often on), is getting his first United States exhibition at the Dallas Contemporary. Complete looks from two of his recent, and provocative, men’s wear shows are being presented on rotating mannequins, including some very kinky accessories, like the tribal-meets-bondage leather masks from his fall 2012 collection entitled “Lust Never Sleeps.” That should wake them up in Dallas.

In addition to designing ready-to-wear, Mr. Van Beirendonck has taught for more than 25 years at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, Belgium, where he encourages the pursuit of creativity and individuality. At the start of a three-week tour of the United States, he called in with some thoughts.

Is Texas Ready for This? I hope they will feel a fascination with my work. There is always a strong concept of how it is presented. Like with the masks from “Lust Never Sleeps” [made with the milliner Stephen Jones], it becomes a loaded atmosphere. They are going to see that fashion can have a dimension other than the wearable side.

Somewhat Wearable I have complete freedom because I am an independent designer. I have very loyal clients who have followed me a long time and allow me to experiment.

Lesson Plan I try to push the students forward. I try to push their boundaries and their fantasy. Most of them now are going to work at designer houses, at Balenciaga, Dior or Versace, because they are being headhunted for that kind of job. It’s different than it was 10 years ago. They know they have to have knowledge and maturity before starting their own businesses.

Student Surpasses Master A lot of people come through my office. One day I received a letter from Raf Simons, who was studying industrial design and asking if he could do an internship. I said: “You don’t know how to sew. You know nothing about fashion. What are you going to do?” We decided he would focus on the presentation of the shows. That evolved into working on accessories. But I like to think I woke his fascination with fashion. It’s always a little surreal when people you knew well when they were young wind up in big houses. My interns don’t have to get me coffee.

Designers Take a Walk on the Green Side

Can Cashmere Be Composted?

TAKE A STROLL on Bleecker Street beginning Saturday if you want to see how fashion designers intend to save the planet. Just before Earth Day, on Monday, more than 20 stores in the West Village are participating in a promotion called Urban Greenwalk by installing videos and displays to encourage environmental initiatives.

Marc Jacobs is creating a gardening installation, and Magnolia Bakery will offer green cupcakes, but perhaps the most curious scene will be found at Ralph Lauren, which has chosen a theme of composting.

According to the company, the store will create window displays that show “a backyard composting station complete with bins and gardening tools to educate shoppers on fun ways to turn ordinary waste into rich, organic compost naturally.”

Or you could just wear what you bought last year.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.