January 23, 2014

Remember that scene in The Devil Wears Prada when Miranda Priestley teaches Andy a lesson in the origins of her blue jumper?

Similarly (er, sort of), that lush coat you love so darn much also has a lineage. Before hitting the shelves and making you feel like a babe of Winona Ryder/Christian Slater proportions, our in-house team pick out the most exciting trends from a mix of street style, vintage and boutique stores on their worldly travels.

Recently, UO designers, Ella Jones and Verity Pemberton took a trip to Tokyo where the pair uncovered a trove of inspiration for UO’s Spring and Autumn collections. We caught up with them to all the fun and finds to be had in Tokyo*.

*No Bill Murray encounters or karaoke sessions in pink wigs occurred on this trip. In case you’re wondering.


UO: Did you set out for Japan knowing what you were looking for ?

Verity: We wanted to find interesting shapes, detailing, prints and vintage. We used the moodboards as a reference, and then when we were out there it was a case of finding what pieces fit with those references. It’s a bit of a hunt. We found a lot of great street style too.

UO: What was your schedule like when you were out there?

Ella: We’d get up early and start shopping. This went on until about 9pm when it got to the point that we couldn’t walk anymore because we were carrying a thousand bags of clothes. We got to fit in a couple of nice dinners too, but after four days, we could hardly move.

V: In Japan, you have to take your shoes off every time you go into a changing room.

E: We were doing that literally hundreds of times a day.


UO: What were the first things you found in Tokyo?

E: We noticed – and bought – a lot of vintage coats. I think that’s what we encountered most out there. All the designer vintage coats we bought were about £50 each and they’re all amazing.

V: There was so much great outerwear, it was almost annoying. We had suitcases bulging by the end of the trip, we could barely get it all home.

UO: Best shopping hot-spots?

E: Harajuku – it’s got loads of tiny streets and random vintage shops and Shibuya, a district that’s all flashing lights and noises from every direction.


UO: What were the oddest pieces you found while shopping?

V: A homeware shop called Tokyo Hands who sell a lot of weird stuff. We also found a Mexican wrestler’s mask in the shape of a Christmas tree, and dog grooming salons where someone would be casually blow-drying a dog’s hair in the window.

E: There’s lorries rolling down the streets with robots on top of them. That’s fairly normal out there.


UO: How do you incorporate what you’ve found out there with the designs you generate here?

V: We collate all our images and research into a trend report so that everyone on our team can look through it, take details or aspects of what we’ve seen, and make it into a new design. We took about a thousand pictures so we’ve got a little book together.

E: We refer back to it for months, which is why it informs our inspiration across two seasons.

UO: What one thing do you wish you could keep from everything you bought out there?

V: A cool, vintage motorcycle top.


UO: Did you have any nights out in Tokyo?

E: We went to an insane show at a restaurant where girls were dancing on robots with glo-sticks.

V: The robots were nine-feet tall and dancing to Gangnam Style. It was as if the Transformers threw a bachelor party and we’d been invited to eat Japanese food and watch it.

UO: Sum up your entire trip?

E: Knackering, fun and intense. Everything is so visually stimulating your senses are overloaded all the time. In a good way of course…