Uniqlo’s +J Collection is/was a collaboration between Uniqlo and the German fashion designer Jil Sander, featuring higher-end fabrics and slimmer fits. Known for her minimalism, Sander and UNIQLO first partnered in 2009, and the two sides worked together until 2011. That was the year before UNIQLO opened their online store here in the US. It doesn’t appear that Sander is back in cahoots with UNIQLO, but instead, the Japanese retail giant has decided to re-release some of their favorite pieces from that multi-season collaboration. And this time, you can buy these items online.
The +J collection will be available to all through UNIQLO’s online store on October 10th (Philadelphia shoppers have the opportunity to purchase the collection a week early on the 3rd by visiting the opening launch of Uniqlo’s new 1608 Chestnut Street store). As Dappered’s European correspondent, I was able to get my hands on the new +J Chester Coat a few weeks before the +J Collection is released in the U.S.
Right off the bat, it’s tempting to compare the +J Flannel Chester Coat to the Chesterfield Coat from Uniqlo’s main line (which previous versions have been featured on this site in the past). They both fill the same niche in a man’s wardrobe. Here’s a quick summary of how the +J Coat differs from this year’s cheaper, mainline coat:
- Peak lapels.
- Jetted pockets.
- Placket covering the buttons.
- ¾” shorter length.
- ½” narrower shoulders.
- 1” Slimmer in the chest.
- ⅗” Slimmer arms.
The +J Coat in medium is very slim through the chest and body on my 5’9”, 175lbs frame. The armholes are uncomfortably high, and the sleeves are on the verge on being skin-tight on my rice-noodle-thin tyrannosaurus arms. Those of you on the muscular side will probably find the coat to be an uncomfortable fit; the coat is just too fitted to be worn over a blazer or suit jacket.
The +J coat is on the short side. At 34” in length in a medium, it’s a bit of a mix between a university coat and an overcoat. Chesterfield coats are typically long overcoats, and even short chesterfield coats tend to reach the lower thigh.
The quality of the +J coat is generally impressive, and visually, the coat lives up to its premium price. The coat’s fabric is a lightweight 90% wool/10% nylon mix that feels smooth and soft to the touch, but know that the weight of this coat is more appropriate for the autumn rather than the winter. I’m typically skeptical about wool and synthetic mixes, but this coat might just have won me over. The color shown here is 08. A dark charcoal that really does get quite close to black in some lighting.
There’s a bit of texture that adds to the coat’s character. The lining is a thin polyester/cotton mix that mirrors the texture of the exterior. The sleeves are fully lined with Cupro, a silky synthetic fabric that is closely related to Tencel® and Rayon®.
The buttonholes on the +J coat are an annoyance. The buttonholes are stitched into a layer of wool that is cut from the inner lining. Threads hold the opening of that flap closed. As a result, it’s easy to get the jacket buttoned, but somewhat of a hassle to unbutton. The design comes across as cheap and cumbersome.
One personal gripe: Uniqlo mailed the coat in a standard soft pack. The coat was folded so tightly deep wrinkles formed. Time to step up your packaging game, Uniqlo. My kingdom for a garment bag and a hanger.
The Bottom Line
At $229, the +J Flannel Chester coat is not inexpensive. It’s $80 more than the standard UNIQLO Chesterfield coat. That premium price is for the stylistic minimalism that Jil Sander brings (brought?) to the table, not for an increase in quality. If this coat ends up being a bellwether for the rest of the +J collection, then be aware of what you might get, and might not get, for that markup.
The coat is also too fitted and cropped to serve as a true overcoat, and it’s too thin to be a winter coat. That being said, it’s visually very handsome, and it might serve some well as a business casual autumn coat. But for $229, many will want and expect it to do more.
About the author: Chris (aka Bruschetta) is an America-born university researcher and teacher based in Glasgow, Scotland, as well as a moderator on Threads. His sense of style is inspired by a childhood dressed in Ivy league trad, and the fact that he is enormously well bred.