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Big in Japan


Tim Hamilton does Uniqlo

In the tight circle of New York designers and the rising tide of young, American menswear creators, indie comer Tim Hamilton is a clear standout. As well, his limited collaboration with Uniqlo, the Japanese superstore that has also recently worked with Loden Dager, is a far cry from the designer-stamped wears one might find at Target. In anticipation of the line's retail debut on Friday (show up early, guys) Hamilton gave us a handful of his precious minutes to explain the origin of the line, how it differs from his signature collection and his favorite Japanese dishes.

How did you first get involved with Uniqlo?

A cold call [from Uniqlo] and a lot of heavy thinking on my part.

What interested you about working with them?

Let's not kid—I'm a one man show with no investors (by choice) and I have rent to pay and a dog to feed. Ha ha. No, for real, the team is really sweet and welcoming and I felt that they were super supportive.

Did Uniqlo present you with any requirements or restrictions?

No, they were open for the most part. I presented, like, 15 to 20 designs and they edited it down.

What was the back and forth between them like? Was there a language barrier?

It was probably the easiest gig I've had to do. They were so accommodating and flew me First Class to Japan. It was a real treat. The editing process was smooth. I understand they are mass retailer and I have worked in the environment in past job lives. They had a translator present at all times. I've also been to Japan a lot so, it wasn't a culture shock or anything.

Tell us about the process of creating this line as opposed to making your own.

I knew I couldn't obviously use the fabrics I use in my main line, but I was very impressed with what they came up and developed for me. I had to beg for certain fabrications and details, and they accommodated my requests for the most part. I wanted the line to be playful and colorful which I think, for the wider audience Uniqlo captures ,works. Though it was a much less personal way of how I normally design, I it was still a fun challenge.

How does the capsule line differ from your own?

Number one—price point. I would also say its younger in a way. I know I have wide range of customers from my main line, but I hear and get a lot of requests from the younger guys who say my price point is out there league but they really want to buy something. This is my gift to them till they get rich and buy more of my main line.

What's your favorite Japanese food?

Sukiyaki! It's amazing! Then shabu shabu.