There is somewhat of a T-shirt war going on in Tokyo at the moment. The fashion obsessed hordes that flock to Harajuku and Shibuya are a fussy lot, and if they can't wear something that inspires conversation or praise then they don't want it – hence the demand for curious, original and interesting T-shirts has reached new heights. As this demand has grown so has the competition between various T-shirt producers with everyone trying to supply consumers with groovy Tees at the lowest possible price. This summer's big players in the Battle of the T-tans were Graniph, Beams and Uniqlo's new UT brand. All of whom have enlisted the world's design elite to try and raise their cool quota.

The latest salvo in this war has been fired by Uniqlo from their new flagship UT store on Meiji-dori in Harajuku. Displayed in shelves resembling refrigerated vending machines - or possibly cryogenic storage units - each T-shirt is rolled up and packaged in plastic cylinders with barcodes and product numbers identifying which shirt is inside. The effect is very impressive, very cool and looks really expensive. But the twist is these shirts sell for only around ¥1500 each. Which is ridiculously cheap in my books.

Uniqlo are being really smart here. They have been around for awhile now and are established as as global brand with stores in New York, the UK, China, Korea and Hong Kong. As a cheap store with fairly generic designs and colours that are easy to mix and match the "Uniqlo look" has become a standard in Japanese fashion these days. But perhaps because of that it has become a little bit unstylish. The brand desperately needed to be updated, and that is exactly what the new UT range has done. No expense has been spared to ensure that people notice – with uber-trendy photographer Terry Richardson shooting the ad campaign.

The shirts themselves are are all serialised and constantly updated. Current series include one devoted to the art of Keith Haring, another is an Ozamu Tezuka Tribute and another focuses on Japanese Pop Culture. Various graphic designers get the chance to show their stuff in the World Typographer series and there is an annual competition held with the winner and runners up showcased in the Creative Award series. There is even a collaboration with the colour standards company PANTONE® for their colour series.

It will be interesting to see how both Beams and Graniph counter attack but with summer drawing to a close it may have to wait until next year. My advice to them is to begin by following Uniqlo and make their T-shirts in XL so I can actually wear them.

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