A NEW COLUMN: ‘ASK ALISON’ BY DRG CONTRIBUTOR, ALISON BISHOP
Sports-luxe is back into the fashionista psyche, judging by the recent round of SS14 catwalks, but this time around it’s infused with a tech-enhanced performance.
In London, Stella McCartney showcased her new performance-fabrics focused range for Adidas ‘to inspire women to get their sweat on’. From spinning to aerial yoga, the collection integrated sustainable textiles and lightweight breathable outerwear into a more dynamic offer.
Gucci had even more of a sexy sweat on. Black mesh fabrics mixed with sweat pants and triangle bras tapped into the streetwear/sportswear vibe but the luxe element was never far away. The collection was zhuzhed up with flowing kimono sleeves and dresses in glorious Art Nouveau Erte florals.
Continuing his signature style of luxe streetwear, Alexander Wang channeled a cleaner, more performance-based aesthetic with androgynous shirting and track style athletic looks, but he kept it very street.
As did Kenzo – arguably the designer brand that epitomises where street and runway collide right now. Designers Carol Lim and Humberto Leon were inspired by the ocean and in particular the world of California surf mixed with the LA music scene of their youth. ‘We like the idea of fusing classic tailoring with beach living. Laser cut jackets in cotton or leather feature large open backed vents to allow for a beach breeze,’ said the designers in their show notes. ‘Prints feature geometric and graphic hand drawn aqua motifs – an observation on overfishing in already crowded marine territories.’ The show marked the launch of Kenzo’s parternship with marine conservation charity The Blue Marine Foundation – for which Kenzo has designed a range of tees and sweats with all proceeds going to the charity. Brandstanding stuff.
This is an era when smart phones make shopping just a click away. The latest tech devices were all over fashion week – from Burberry’s partnership with Apple to showcase the HD capabilities of its latest iPhone 5s (below), to Moschino and Fallon’s partnerships with Samsung to put the technology company’s latest wearables products on and in the hands of models during the shows. Kenzo also collaborated with Google to launch a limited edition pochette for its new Nexus 7 device and to live-stream the show in Paris.
But it’s wearables that will supersede handhelds. Google Glass launched its Instagram account at NYFW and aside from Marie Claire’s Nina Garcia or Lucky’s Eva Chen sporting them everywhere, we saw streetstyle shots enhanced by the techy eyewear headset. One of my favourites was Song of Style below…
And finally, we recently had Nike mixing sportswear and tech for an interactive experience called ‘Nature Amplified: The Art & Science of Feeling’, held in its experimental retail space 1948. Celebrating its Free Hyperfeel shoe, the Feel London event was the latest in a global tour that comprised workshops, installations and live events all focusing on where art and science meet. Thinking about this emotive intersection, it all started with Nike’s FuelBand (yes, there’s a new one!) – making performance into a scientific art form for self-tracking types who like to compete on fitness levels.
For Nike to put on this immersive brand experience around a shoe that emulates the feeling of running barefoot, the brand is making a statement of intent: to show its commitment to celebrating the experience of sport.
Ask Alison: what does it all mean?
Consumers are tapping into a grittier, sweaty, performance-based sportswear vibe – from the catwalks to the street. Designers are delivering collections that meet somewhere in the middle for women who like to look good while they workout. And technology is helping them to communicate how they look and perform through social networks. The challenge for brands is to provide a brand experience that elevates and enhances the new tech-infused definition of sport.
New on DRG is a monthly trends column by fashion & retail insights expert Alison Bishop. I’m calling it ‘Ask Alison’ because we regularly chew over industry updates – from fashion weeks to how brands target bloggers on social media – ending in the inevitable refrain, ‘yes but what does it all mean?’ Her day job is working for LS:N Global, the consumer insights network by The Future Laboratory, so here’s looking forward to some thought provoking content with a fresh perspective.