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Welcome to The Esquire Endorsement. Heavily researched. Thoroughly vetted. These picks are the best way to spend your hard-earned cash.
I remember two key things about my first encounter with Uniqlo U's riff on the hoodie. First, being impressed. Second, being thankful that I didn't lose a damn arm as I reached for it. This was back in the era when the Christophe Lemaire-designed collection wasn't a mainstay but a one-off. Each new drop was announced to much fanfare, and seeing as it wasn't a sure thing that there'd ever be another one, folks weren't afraid to get their claws out in service of scoring that almost-annoyingly-well-priced piece from the lineup. I bought that hoodie. But if I'd put it down? I'd be telling you about the one that got away.
These days, things are different. Uniqlo and Lemaire have formalized their relationship. He's designing Uniqlo U collections for the foreseeable future, which means folks are generally less inclined to rend limb from body in pursuit of the perfect pullover. But the hoodies coming out each season still represent a remarkable value, and now that acquiring one doesn't invite a possibly-life-threatening experience, it's time to ask yourself why you haven't picked up one of your own yet.
The fit is *chef's kiss*.
I don't love invoking emojis in everyday speech, because I'm afraid I'll do it wrong and be rightly roasted by someone younger and cooler. But I'm doing it now because I don't know a better way to describe just how well Uniqlo U's hoodie walks the line between big and boxy and properly fitted. Pull it over your head and you'll immediately feel it—that sensation of being ensconced in a generously cut piece of clothing, coupled with just enough body-to-fabric contact to know you're not swimming in the damn thing. Take a look in the mirror and you'll get visual confirmation. It's exactly how a hoodie should fit right now.
It's comfy but sturdy.
I know that some people out there are still entranced by the promise of a whisper-soft hoodie made from fabric that's just barely holding itself together. To those people, I say: Come join me. I have discovered a beautiful new land, one populated by hoodies that are plush to the touch but won't fall apart in a stiff breeze. The perfect weight for sweats may be a deeply personal decision, but having enough heft to actually shield you from the cold seems like it should be a prerequisite. Having that kind of heft while feeling supremely comfortable? Well, that's just a flex.
It should cost more.
Listen. Listen. Don't tell the merchandising team at Uniqlo this, but the Uniqlo U hoodie could clock in at nearly twice the price and still be a good idea. It's made from heavyweight cotton with just a touch of polyester thrown in for feel. It's cut like a high-end, designer-label garment. I mean, sure, it's a hoodie. But in this brave new world where a hoodie can easily cost more than a grand, it's a hoodie that checks the boxes on quality and look and feel and costs a mere $50-ish. That's a damn fine showing, and a testament to why those folks back in the day were more than willing to rip my arm off. But here in 2021, you can buy one with the click of a button. So, what are you waiting for?
Photography by Timothy Mulcare. Prop styling John Olson for Halley Resources.
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