Uniqlo has quickly become a staple brand in many of our wardrobes. From the AIRism line, to the affordable basics and conveniently available winter wear, the Japanese retailer has risen to become a household brand for any type of clothing.
So what is the next step for Uniqlo? Handing creativity back to the hands of the customers. All through the UTme! App.
The UTme! App is not anything new. Having initially launched in Japan, it found itself swept up on our shores in 2015.
The app allows anyone to become a designer. You can slap a picture from your camera roll, type some witty copy, or paint directly in the app and decorate it with Uniqlo’s own set of stickers.
When your design is print-ready, the next step would be to choose a shape. For this little experiment, I went for a rectangle outline.
This app gives you full liberty to go crazy with your designs. After much tinkering with the framing of my design, I figured that if you’re ever unsure about placement, nothing is better than putting it right smack in the middle.
This is where the fun starts. With the UTme! app, there’s even something called a shaking feature, where you literally shake your phone so that it turns your design into abstract works of art, which may or may not be everyone’s cup of tea.
Once you’re happy with your masterpiece, save your design and click on the purchase button. You’re now print-ready. Unfortunately, this feature has not rolled out to other locations and you can only get it done at the Bugis+ store.
The Print Job
Reasonably priced at S$29.90 for a one-off tee, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better price if you’re looking to print just one t-shirt. I was curious to know what blank my design would be printed on and only found out after I got mine completed.
It was printed on the Supima Cotton Crew Neck Tee, which is usually sold for S$14.90. If you do some quick maths, that’s about an additional S$15 for the printing service.
And with no added costs for factors such as size and colours like regular printing services, I’d say it’s a pretty decent deal. Keep in mind that all of this is still relatively new and you can only print on white blanks for now.
After going through the process of registering your design for printing, you’ll be handed a receipt that essentially acts as an invoice to make payment with at the cashier.
There are many ways to transfer pixels on a screen to ink on a t-shirt. We’ve even written a whole guide on creating your own streetwear brand from scratch in which we printed our first sample.
Uniqlo uses an inkjet transfer to achieve this. Although that’s not my preferred choice for its lack of accuracy in terms of colours and intricacy, it’s still a pretty solid choice if you’re looking for a plain finish to the design.
Straight off the printer and right into the presser, this process ensures that the design sticks and is set in stone. Depending on the size of your design, the whole process could take up to 20 minutes but with my intentionally minimalist approach, the print job was done in under a mere five minutes.
Close Ups & Verdict
We at Hype & Stuff strive to always keep it real and I will tell you that even though the whole process was huge fun, the results were a bit of a letdown; the colours were muted and did not pop like how I expected them to.
The accompanying text appeared to have been bolded through the printing process, which is understandable as printing usually requires a certain amount of space set as an allowance to ensure that these things don’t happen.
So do note that you’ll probably need to thin out a more intricate design, if not it might appear blotched.
With that being said, the versatility of this app is great. Not only can I now preserve my art into a tee, this would be a great option for any situation that requires custom tees in a small quantity. Something that printing stores rarely (or never) cater to.
The muted colours are a small issue with so many colour correcting tools at your disposal when you do post your latest #OOTD on the ‘gram.
The frightening reality is that there’s probably an app for anything under the sun these days. I just designed a tee straight from my smartphone and almost magically, it became reality. Maybe the futuristic world in Wall-E isn’t that far off after all.
Price: S$29.90 (for a t-shirt), app is free