Uniqlo's London Fashion Week exhibition, 'The Art and Science of LifeWear, New Form Follows Function', highlights Uniqlo's use of science and art to design its LifeWear clothing range.
With London Design Festival and London Fashion Week upon us, the Household team set out to explore this year’s design events. The first stop: Uniqlo’s first London Fashion Week exhibition, hosted at Somerset House.
The exhibition showcases Uniqlo’s LifeWear range – clothing designed for the everyday, to wear every day – from the perspectives of art, science and craftmanship. The exhibition could just as easily be part of London Design Festival owing to this focus on strategy, process and innovative design.
LifeWear is the product of combining art and science to create beautiful, practical, high-quality pieces. The exhibition highlights how Uniqlo uses science as a foundation for innovative, functional design, then art to transform this into simple, stylish pieces that reflect the brand’s clean, minimalistic image.
Uniqlo promised a ‘large-scale immersive, experiential event’ and first impressions did not disappoint. Digitised, futuristic music fills the twisting, illuminated entry corridor, giving the impression of entering into another world and heightening anticipation about what awaits round the corner.
Each space deconstructs the technically advanced materials used to make Uniqlo products and their creation processes. The exhibition’s first interactive installation first explains the technology of Uniqlo’s AIRism fabric. Then guests are invited to experience the fabric’s super-softness for themselves by weaving in and out of hanging strips of the moisture wicking fabric, knitted with fibre 1/12th the thickness of a strand of human hair.
Admittedly, to achieve the full immersive experience promised, it would have been much more powerful to scale the installation to room size, inviting all guests to get lost in the fabric rather than bypassing the experience.
The most playful point of the exhibition, the 50 Colours of Socks experience, did just this. Enter through a black screen and you are met with a dark mirror-lined room filled with wind-chime music and 50 colour-changing lanterns made of socks. The sock lanterns could easily be introduced to a store environment as light fittings, to bring subtle, functional creativity as a playful extension of the brand experience.
Like Uniqlo’ stores, the exhibition places the product at the centre at every moment. All products displayed have tags attached, highlighting prices and product codes for late purchase. While a pop-up store at the end of the exhibition does offer exclusive access to purchase items from a new collaboration, the exhibition could have been made entirely shoppable with the use of QR codes throughout and product pick-up at the end of the exhibition.
The exhibition demonstrates how technology can be the ultimate life enhancer. With LifeWear, Uniqlo promises that its clothes perform better, making customers’ lives simpler and easier, thanks to tech and science-backed design. To enhance the exhibition even further, scan-and-shop technology could have seamlessly integrated Uniqlo’s retail objective into the experience.
Read more about how tech is increasingly being used for speedy, convenient payments that enhance the customer journey here.