From Carine Roitfeld to Heat Tech: how Uniqlo became our favourite shop

The partnership between Uniqlo and Toray may suit the brand’s image as Japanese innovators, but how well does science fit with its new haute-couture approach? I was invited on a tour of the Toray research factory near Kyoto, where we are shown how four different super-thin synthetic fibres are produced, combined and then rigorously tested before being sent overseas to be spun into clothes. After peering at some industrial machines, we are shown into the Technorama, described as an “almighty environment-simulation lab” which we are told can recreate the conditions of the North Pole or the Sahara. Thankfully they have set the lab to a reasonable 10C. An infrared camera points at a model walking on a treadmill in a puffa jacket who stops, unsmiling, and unzips to reveal his T-shirted torso, which glows warm on the screen.

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