My shopping advice to everyone is this — run, don’t walk to the nearest Uniqlo store (or computer for uniqlo.com) to scoop up some ultra light down. With prices of $49.90 for vests and $69.90 for jackets, it is all too easy to consider an assortment.
Last week, after five hours and as many hooded down vests later, I emerged from a Manhattan Uniqlo overwhelmed but hardly defeated by the excessive goodness in store. Sure, the down collection is nothing new – but the success has driven more selection in styles, colors and prints! To me, the prints are the real coup: polka dots, gingham, plaid and more for women; camouflage, houndstooth, denim and others for men. I was defenseless against the super-cute hooded vests with dots and checks!
The designs are simple and flattering – the women’s styles in particular benefit from this approach, as they are not overdone with excessive quilting and shaping. In terms of weight, these garments fall in the down “sweater” category, perfect as outerwear in cool (not cold) temps and excellent layering weight. As for quality, the fill is 90% down / 10% feather with downproof nylon shell fabric. Zippers are YKK. The included stuff sack is a reasonable size that makes for easy storage. The concept of the compact stuff sack is widely promoted as an integral part of this collection with instructional videos running throughout the store and down garments put into their pouches by sales clerks at checkout.
It is exciting to see performance apparel stories take root in mainstream fashion. Uniqlo has been effective in educating consumers about the benefits of down (light, warm, packable, versatile, comfortable, natural) and showing how to make it a part of everyday dress. (Another success is their Heattech program developed with leading technical fabric supplier, Toray.)
Personally, I have been a big fan of Uniqlo since the Japanese fast fashion retailer opened the SoHo store in 2006. Some of my most worn staples are Uniqlo, product quality is excellent and price can’t be beat. I expect the same of these down pieces and am thrilled to have added to my vest collection for daily uniform wear and broadened my on-hill layering options. And I can’t wait to layer a polka dotted hooded vest under a contrasting color technical shell!