Leading a major global retail conglomerate like UNIQLO is no easy feat. Besides making critical decisions and steering the company to success, one definitely has to wear many hats to convey the brand’s visions. For Uniqlo and its parent company Fast Retailing Co. LTD, Takahiro Kinoshita is at the helm to execute them.
The Japanese tastemaker currently holds many roles – Group Senior Executive Officer at Fast Retailing Co. LTD, Creative Director at Fast Retailing Global Creative Lab, Senior Executive Officer, Research & Design at UNIQLO, and Editor-in-Chief of UNIQLO LifeWear Magazine. Talk about doing all the heavy lifting. But these responsibilities certainly weren’t assigned without any merit.
Having nearly 30 years of experience as a magazine editor at illustrious Japanese titles like BRUTUS and POPEYE, Kinoshita’s appointment also taps into his curating and editing expertise to drive effective communication. Hypebeast also recognised Kinoshita’s talents and inducted him into their Hypebeast 100 list.
Inside UNIQLO’s LifeWear issue #08 – The Art of Everyday Life
Takahiro Kinoshita recently came to Singapore to launch the latest issue of UNIQLO’s LifeWear Magazine. Currently its eighth edition, the newest issue features ‘The Art of Everyday Life’ theme. The free publication from Uniqlo conveys the UNIQLO LifeWear philosophy of making the everyday lives of people richer and more comfortable. This particular issue also probes the rediscovery of the relationship between clothes and life.
For the latest 120-page magazine, the editorial team travelled to various cities worldwide to create its content. In particular, cities like Paris, Tokyo, Melbourne, Los Angeles, Barcelona, Kyoto, Stockholm, Boston, Hamburg, and Warsaw.
“These are the cities that LifeWear magazine visited and photographed for this latest issue. We wanted to convey the positive moods and values of each location and its people together with LifeWear. And we were able to put together an issue with a feel of travelling,” said Kinoshita.
Lifestyle Asia Singapore sat down with Kinoshita for an exclusive interview about the influence of LifeWear Magazine and the difference between essential and basic clothing.
Exclusive interview with Takahiro Kinoshita of UNIQLO
Lifestyle Asia: How do you conceptualise the main theme for each LifeWear Magazine and weave the various clothing collections, like the main line with collaborations and UT together?
Takahiro Kinoshita: The design team at UNIQLO comes up with [the main collection] first. Then, I get a rundown of the season we’ll be working on and its main themes. So that’s where the magazine starts. And how the magazine interprets that theme is our job.
LSA: How do you settle or decide on specific themes like the cities? For example, this issue is Melbourne. Are they usually recognisable cities?
Kinoshita: They don’t necessarily have to be a big city. As long as there’s an interest in a particular city, UNIQLO will also be interested in it. So why have we decided on Melbourne [for this issue], is that it’s a very liveable city. People always say that. Hence, we are interested in why is [Melbourne] liveable. We felt that the theme of ‘The Art of Everyday Life’ reflects Melbourne citizens who are already practising this in their daily lives. That’s why we picked Melbourne.
Also, coincidentally at the same time, UNIQLO opened a new shop in Warsaw. That’s why we featured Warsaw too. It’s not a big city. But we heard from European natives that Poland is a very stylish place. So we got curious to visit the city a few times and found it attractive.
LSA: Why is there a focus on the importance of print, particularly, still?
Kinoshita: There are consumers who choose the digital version instead of print because the former suffices for them. But why print? Because there is still an important role for it which both me and Mr [Tadashi] Yanai, the president, agree. It is something that no other brands do, so we should protect this culture by having a physical print magazine and passing it on to the next generation.
LSA: What is the most important resource that UNIQLO provides to create LifeWear Magazine?
Kinoshita: Firstly, the number of editors who make magazines is drastically decreasing. Young and talented magazine editors need to be discovered constantly. This isn’t limited to only Japan, but worldwide instead. So, we are always looking for these talented editors.
That’s why I’m always up for collaborating with magazine editors worldwide, such as the up-and-coming budding talents. Also, I am aware that we have to find someone who can bridge the digital and print mediums in the future.
LSA: What is the success measurement of LifeWear Magazine?
Kinoshita: If the clothes that are featured in this magazine sold well, then that’s one measurement point. When LifeWear Magazine readers increase in numbers, even if it’s just one, it’s also an achievement. That’s how we felt the calling to create it – for people who read the content and understand the concept of Lifewear.
LSA: UNIQLO Airism clothing went viral for its versatility in Singapore, as with the women’s pleated trousers which are worn by both sexes. What makes UNIQLO made for all and for everyday wear regardless of gender?
Kinoshita: Yes, of course. It’s free for everyone to choose where and which clothing they pick for themselves, even if it’s from either women or men. Especially for Uniqlo clothing. In fact, women are the bigger customer base for the men’s section. It’s natural to associate genderless when it comes to UNIQLO clothing.
LSA: As a tastemaker and from your experience, is there a difference between essential clothing and basic clothing?
Kinoshita: I think I consider them both similar. But the exact meaning is different? How about you? Do you differentiate and is it different for you between essential and basic?
LSA: Essential, for me, is something that’s important to have. But basic provides the foundation. For essentials, say planning an outfit, I’ll pick to include a particular piece of clothing and incorporate it no matter what. Basics are to layer and build the foundation of the outfit. But for essentials, for example, when I love a specific pair of pants, I’ll wear these pants even in different colours every day.
Kinoshita: So essentials can vary for individuals. Basics are simply basics for everybody. Maybe that’s the difference.
LSA: Besides your Editor-in-Chief role at Lifewear Magazine, you also lead the creative direction of Fast Retailing. Do you have any personal goals you want to achieve during your stint at UNIQLO?
Kinoshita: There are many countries where UNIQLO don’t have a presence in. So while I’m at Uniqlo, I hope that I can see more countries with Uniqlo and hope that the people in those countries will love Uniqlo.
(All image credit: UNIQLO). This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
LifeWear Magazine issue 8 is out now at all UNIQLO stores in Singapore and online.