6 Reasons Why Uniqlo is Better Than American Apparel

By Rachael Gibson

In the world of fashion basics, there are really only two contenders. In the red corner is American Apparel, the LA-based vertically-integrated, sweatshop free fashion phenomenon, launched by the controversial Dov Charney in 1998. In the blue corner is Uniqlo, the Japanese retail chain most famous for its designer collaborations, nabbing Jil Sander as creative director, and defying the Asian financial crisis a decade ago by selling cheap clothes to cash-strapped fashion fans.

Both AA and Uniqlo are hugely popular among the fashion press, as well as consumers just looking for a decent t-shirt at a decent price. As we enter another round of recession-based fun, I’ll be interested to see which brand comes out on top…

1) HeatTech

Launched in 2006, HeatTech is Uniqlo’s patented brand of fabric technology, designed to keep you warm by layering. And we all know how good the Japanese are at layering – it’s all the bloody street style blogs are full of. Heattech is a kind of complex science which you can read about on their website, but it essentially consists of a special hollow fibre, which absorbs body moisture and converts it into heat. True, AA has tie-dye and thermochromatics, but when it comes to actually useful innovation, Uniqlo win hands down.

2) UT t-shirt

Uniqlo has attracted several big name designer collaborations over the years (Alexander Wang, Philip Lim, Steven Alan, Opening Ceremony), but the annual UT t-shirt line consistently comes up with the goods. With designers and artists as varied as Terry Richardson and Keith Haring on board, the project has so far seen more than 700 unique limited edition designs come to fruition. And when they sell for roughly £10 a pop, it’s one of the most affordable designer ranges on the High Street.

3) Adverts

Everyone is aware of American Apparel’s front man Dov Charney and his extensive history of sexual harassment lawsuits. The man is no stranger to debate, and by opting  to use ‘adult actresses’ and largely naked members of his own staff in the store’s ad campaigns, Dov continues to court controversy and column inches. Uniqlo also uses ‘real people’ (got to love that term) in their ads, but more often than not, they have clothes on. They also use stuffed animals at times, and that’s always going to be a winner with me.

4) Ethics

Uniqlo’s ethics are admittedly more vague than American Apparel’s, and by offering such bargain prices, it doesn’t take a retail genius to realise that something untoward is afoot. 90% of their products are manufactured in factories in China, but the brand are kind of vague about the conditions, unsurprisingly.

Still, what we can applaud them for is the All Product Recycling initiative. Uniqlo collect used clothing at their stores for reuse or recycling. Twice a year the collected goods are either distributed to refugee camps if they’re in good condition or recycled to create electric power or industrial fibres if they’re not wearable. Thumbs up!

5) The Uniqlock

It just keeps getting better the more you watch it. Try it and see.

6) The…Clothes?

We all love AA’s t-shirts, and if you’re into that kind of thing, their leggings, unitards and bikinis are all pretty cool too. However for actually wearable clothes, that fit more than the AA-ideal (no boobs or hips allowed), last, and look good, Uniqlo wins hands down.

Thu, 16 Apr 2009 11:06 (GMT+01)
4 Responses

I don't really know anything about the company ( I loathe American Apparel though so I'm easy to convince) but that's Tadanobu Asano in the ''Sorry I'm Late'' tee!! Awesome actor and cute to boot!

Thu, 16-Apr-2009 12:22 GMT

This article was just what I needed. Very informative! Thank you very much!
-The Sole Attic

The Sole Attic Blog
Mon, 19-Apr-2010 07:21 GMT

Particularly in China's case, I'm sick of uppity 'responsible' shoppers trying to make the rest of us feel bad for where we shop. China is emerging as the number one, most affluent superpower in_the_world. Is it not their own government's responsibility to ensure safe working conditions, making sure kids are in school instead of factories and making sure there are and fair minimum wages across the board? I'm on not much more than an average European minimum wage, yet some pompous middle class busy-body wants ME to pay more than I need to to clothe MY family? Screw you!

Sweatshop Shmetshop
Sun, 08-Aug-2010 05:39 GMT

Dear Sweatshop Shmetshop.
How lucky for you to live in a Country where your children (assuming the terrifying possibility you have any) are given the PRIVILEGE of going to school.

Unfortunately, some children live under communist rule.
Do you know what communism is?
It's a nice theory, but some selfish asshole aways f***s it up.
So no financial security for anyone who isn't upper class.
Are you upper class? Probably not if you're bitching about having to spend $25 on a sweatshop free t-shirt.

I would gladly spend $25 on a t-shirt knowing that a poor impoverished child wasn't essentially forced to go to work to make it for me. In order to keep from starving to death. Despite the fact that, that said child would love to go to school to learn and play and be a 'normal' kid.
Too bad not all children have the benefit of a government that gives a shit about their growth and well being, but only that of getting the western world so desperately hooked on their cheap Chinese crap that we care more about a bargain than about a child, because it isn't our own. Or "our problem".

Shame on you. If I believed in hell I'd tell you to go rot in it.

Wed, 05-Jan-2011 00:19 GMT

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