Mame Kurogouchi’s Latest Uniqlo Collaboration Is A Sheer Dream
Mame Kurogouchi discusses her light and airy summer collaboration with Uniqlo.
Maiko Kurogouchi isn’t interested in established views of what is or isn’t feminine. The Japanese designer, known for her effortlessly tailored work under her label Mame Kurogouchi, is serving a higher purpose. “Whenever I design clothes, I seek to create items that quietly help women stand tall,” she tells NYLON. “My aim is clothing that brings out the positive elements in the women who wear it, giving them a commanding air and confidence.”
Kurogouchi used this same approach in her new collaboration with Uniqlo, an elegant innerwear collection that fuses her intentional Japanese tailoring skillset with a luxurious, sheer fabric developed specifically for the spring-ready clothing. Full of clean lines and serene hues, the delicate pieces are designed with comfort in mind — gossamer camisoles, barely-there wireless bras, split-toe stockings, timeless ribbed knits, and more that can be layered or worn alone to highlight the beauty of the skin.
Kurogouchi focused on cool-toned colors to enhance the wearer’s natural radiance; neutrals and refreshing blues make up the of the Uniqlo x Mame Kurogouchi SS23 collection, creating a color palette as fresh as water, to work seamlessly with any sense of personal style.
“I approached design like creating sculpture, chipping away the fabric on the skin. When sketching out the designs as well, I would take an eraser to what I had drawn, gradually removing parts in search of the final form,” says Kurogouchi. “That’s why the finished items create such a beautiful form when worn over a naked body, exalting the skin and body of the wearer.”
See more of the Uniqlo x Mame Kurogouchi SS23 collection, and read on as Kurogouchi her inspirations for the collection, her design ethos, and more.
Something that immediately struck me from this collection is the soothing color palette. Can you tell me about why you chose these colors and if they have any personal significance to you?
As with the previous collections, a priority for me was using colors that bring out the beauty in the skin of many types of women. That’s why there are so many cool colors. For this season’s Spring/Summer collection, I focused on a cool and fresh feel, finally settling on a season color of refreshing blue that evokes the element of water, creating a color palette that matches well with any style. I also wanted to expand the range of items in sheer material this season, so I selected beautiful colors that would be lovely when layered.
Was there a specific inspiration behind the collection?
Because this is an innerwear collection it doesn’t change much season to season. I think the essence of this collaboration centers on whether it can be worn on an everyday basis. We made minor sizing adjustments to long-running items such as plunge bras and panties to enhance the fit, while also adding exciting new items. This is possible precisely because it’s an ongoing collaboration. In terms of “newness,” this season we brought the sheerness from last season to front and center. We incorporated items that when worn alone show the beauty of skin, and when layered can be enjoyed with material on material over skin.
Did designing this Uniqlo collection differ from how you design for your own brand? What was the process?
Whenever I design clothes, I seek to create items that quietly help women stand tall. My aim is clothing that brings out the positive elements in the women who wear it, giving them a commanding air and confidence. This approach is the same for both this collaboration and the Mame Kurogouchi collection. Uniqlo and Mame Kurogouchi is mainly innerwear, the most intimate type of clothing that is closest to the skin, so I created it with the idea of how best to allow the women of the world to show their beauty from within. Rather than what other people would consider feminine, I wanted a femininity that the women who wear the items would themselves feel. I sought to create items that make getting dressed in the morning a special moment, items that span the boundary between innerwear and clothing, and allow women to enjoy freely styling their look. The aspect that the collaboration with UNIQLO and my own collection have in common is a design that makes a woman’s body beautiful.
Of course, while for the Mame Kurogouchi collection I create designs for the body from manga-like outlines, since this collaboration is for innerwear, and the items are small, I approached design like creating sculpture, chipping away the fabric on the skin. When sketching out the designs as well, I would take an eraser to what I had drawn, gradually removing parts in search of the final form. That’s why the finished items create such a beautiful form when worn over a naked body, exalting the skin and body of the wearer.
Do you have a favorite piece from the collection?
I like the bra slip. I think that since the health crisis, everyone has become more sensitive to the way things feel on the skin. I find that I more often wear innerwear like bra tops that are more relaxing. This slip provides a firm hold the same as a brassiere and creates a beautiful breast line. In the sense that this one item does it all, I think it’s a masterpiece.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.