Wednesday, February 17, 2010
At the beginning of the Lunar New Year celebration, Ron and I headed over to Breeze Center (微風廣場) to do some shopping in their grocery store. While dilly-dallying in the rest of the mall, I discovered Breeze's MUJI had expanded -- and now included a whole new collection of clothes called MUJI Labo.
MUJI Labo has a lot of the same silhouettes (dropped waist dresses, up-and-down shifts, swing coats, A-line skirts) found in MUJI's regular clothing lines, but features more luxurious fabrics and higher price tags. Most dresses I saw were about NT$4,500 (or about US$140) to NT$6,000 (~NT$187.50).
My favorite pieces included this shawl-collared sweater coat, which looks ordinary from the front but has beautiful, undulating horizontal cables on the back...
...a black/white plaid drop-waisted dress -- the stripes looked like they were felted, instead of woven or printed, onto the white fabric...
...and this cream shift and vest set because of the silhouette and textured brocade.
Overall, I really like MUJI's newest clothing line, even though it's out of my price range (and I always have fit issues with MUJI's more tailored items). I know MUJI enjoys an almost cult-like status in countries where it's hard to find their stuff, like the US, but there is a store in almost every major mall in Taipei. Since moving here two and a half years ago, I've had plenty of time to think of how good MUJI is at marketing their items (and creating really gorgeous catalog shoots) and how their brand philosophy of minimalism just disguises how unextraordinary and overpriced a lot of their products really are.
I hope MUJI will continue to launch new product lines that focus on design and quality and spend less time trying to flog plastic boxes that warp easily, hats with seams that fall apart after a month of wear and pens that dry out within a couple of months (can you tell by my little rant that I've bought a fair amount of MUJI stuff?) before they dilute their appeal.
ETA: One of my commenters noted that MUJI has a lot of great designers working for them and that they have to stick strictly to a MUJI aesthetic. I am well aware of their brand history. It's fascinating and is one of the reasons why I was a fan of MUJI (and still am, for certain of their items). But I think they have to do something about ensuring consistent quality control. One of the most important criteria of good design is functionality and, in my experience, a lot of their products fall short in that regard. It's a disservice, not just to the consumer, but to the designers of MUJI.
What do you think of the new line?