When the Michael Bastian x Uniqlo collaboration was first announced way back in the spring of 2013, there was some uncertainty as to how the partnership between the fast-fashion outlet and the lauded American designer would sell — and more crucially, how it might be received (at least from this #menswear writer). Well, those questions were answered when polos flew off the shelves in-store and online. Last year’s collaboration polos offered more eclectic designs mixed with traditional prep-sportswear touches, but didn’t seem to sell nearly as well at first — so the question remained, would the collaboration return?
It’s back in full force, and then some. This year’s run expands on the customary, well-designed polo set to include colorful T-shirts, tank tops and two styles of shorts – but the polos really caught this writer’s eye. There’s again a mix of quirky designs alongside classic prep polos, like ones with thick rugby stripes and open collars. I opted for a more middle-of-the road option, a washed pique polo in a medium royal blue with a buttondown chambray collar (also available in colors ranging from white to orange). As with last year’s offering, count me highly pleased with my pickup — perhaps the first of a few from the line.
While one might expect a chambray collar to be floppy or lack structure, I’ve found it to be fairly substantial. It’s slightly larger than the typical polo collar, with a nice roll and the ability to stand up across the day thanks to that buttondown collar (in particular, that style from the brand in general is worth a look). The mix of light purple & blue stripes on the collar is a stylish and effective way to break things up visually, and I had no problem pairing it with a thicker-striped cream & navy belt (different pattern scales, see?). The dressier four-button placket gives the shirt a casual-but-polished feel. As a bonus, the washed pique fabric is soft and breathes pretty well for being a thicker material. It’s got a nice hint of stretch to it, and a Medium fit my six-foot, one-inch frame nicely — it was trim across the chest, through the shoulders and particularly at the sleeves (no baggy golf polo issues here). The V-shaped notch and extra button at the bicep is the sort of detail that design aficionados can appreciate, while the button-flap chest pocket is a neat visual touch, too.
The color on this option is also a nice change of pace from more solid navy polos. There’s a marled-like texture to the fabric because of the pre-washing, and this shade of blue plays well off darker denim or navy chinos (as you can see here). This polo would also look right at home with light to medium-grey chinos or a deep tan khaki pair, too. The buttondown collar makes this one polo you can wear with white sneakers and a blazer — an unconstructed navy option (keep coming back to that one, right?) offers lots of easygoing polish.
I actually paired my selection with a light tan V-neck (similar to this J. Crew sweater) on a recent chilly spring day to great effect, too. The collar stood up throughout the day and the fit of the polo itself was trim enough to accomodate the extra top layer. As with last year’s polos, this is one designer collaboration worth looking into — it seems as if Uniqlo has really made that their forte, what with the recent reintroduction of the “Best of J+” collection with famed minimalist-minded designer Jil Sander. At the prices these polos are going for now (2 for just $39.90), I’d suggest you grab at least two — or perhaps more.