“I wanted to explore movement through lightness”: British designer Clare Waight Keller on her second collection for Uniqlo C

By Clare McInerney

Photo: Uniqlo

It's music to the ears of fashion folk: the acclaimed designer is returning with a second chapter of her Uniqlo C line this spring

Complementing its bread-and-butter line-up of essentials that Scandinavia simply can't get enough of (here's to you, HeatTech), Uniqlo continues to raise its design bar with a heaving schedule of elevated fashion collaborations. In recent years, we've been marking our calendars for the highly anticipated drops of JW Anderson, Marimekko, Anya Hindmarch and Mame Kurogouchi lines, and last year, the Japanese retailer upped the ante for autumn/winter '23 with a new line by British designer Clare Waight Keller: Uniqlo C.


Beloved for her contributions at the artistic helm of Chloé and Givenchy – with credentials including the design of the 2018 wedding dress of Meghan, Duchess of Sussex – Waight Keller told Vogue that stepping up to the plate for the Japanese powerhouse retailer offered its own kind of luxury. “It was a full six months of just working on 30 pieces, all the way from doing the different fabric trials to doing up to five fittings on things, which is not normal,” Waight Keller said of the first drop last August. “Usually [at luxury houses] we’re racing through two or three and then on to the next.”

Photo: Uniqlo

Photo: Uniqlo

While the first Uniqlo C collection plucked inspiration from the Hackney Wick neighbourhood of her hometown, London, the second drop – which will arrive in two instalments during February and April – sees Waight Keller looks south of the capital to the “interesting artist communities” of London's Lavender Hill. “Not only are they in quite a cultural part of London, but they have a very interesting neighbourhood, with countryside and city life intertwined together.”

I'm thinking about the everyday person on the street. It's really someone I connect with. I am that person.

Clare Waight Keller

This inspiration comes through in a balanced mix of pieces for spring/summer '24, with a sophistication of ease and movement – and a keen sense of practicality. “Every time I create a collection, I really do think about who is going to wear these clothes. I'm thinking about the everyday person on the street. It's really someone I connect with. I am that person. I'm always going between things," Waight Keller describes.

Photo: Uniqlo

Her observations of this everyday person led to a range of innovative, versatile and oh so very wearable pieces. ”It starts off very fresh in the spring season, so you're often wanting lightweight outwear, especially in the morning when it's a bit cooler. Then, as the day, and season, transitions, it starts to get really warm. So you want those beautiful summer pieces that take you through the day, and you can layer up as it gets cooler in the evening," the designer says.

It plays out with a fresh energy in this second collection, amplified by a light and breezy palette. “I always start by looking at the base colours of my own wardrobe. What are the key tones that will take me through every kind of situation?” Waight Keller explains of the colourways. “In the summer, you want that lightness and freshness. So we started with a soft palette that goes from natural ecrus through chino beige colours, then into khakis and darker browns. In addition to that, we created a palette of brights that come into play with these softer tones to create a really lovely dynamic of a classic pop colour palette against something really soft and neutral.”

Photo: Uniwlo

In the first images to be released of the SS24 collection, we see a pleated dress peeking out from behind a trench coat that's bound to draw beautiful lines with every step. Voluminous wide pants are paired with a jacket to very subtly alter the silhouette at the waist. Meanwhile, knitted vests, cropped T-shirts, poplin check baseball caps, and roomy
faux leather bags form part of the repertoire for easy spring layering.

It's now Waight Keller's second rodeo when it comes to Uniqlo C, with the response to the first collection motivating the second in many wayss. “During the first season, I had so many people sending me pictures of themselves in the new collection that launched this September,” Waight Keller says. “It was so thrilling to see how everyone was playing with the clothes, how people were styling it within their own wardrobes. It'sso exciting to see that, because you realise that people still get so much joy out of getting dressed, putting themselves together, and looking great in clothes. That's what I want to bring to this season as well.”