COLLABORATION ANTICIPATION:

Christophe Lemaire Will Make A Second Home At Uniqlo

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Christophe Lemaire and his new design team for Uniqlo U/Courtesy Image

There's good news today for those of us Uniqlo fans who were disappointed that the recent Uniqlo and Lemaire collaboration did not become an ongoing collaboration for the Japanese based mega-chain. Designer Christophe Lemaire has joined Uniqlo on a permanent basis and will spearhead a new label called Uniqlo U (see the logo below) as the design director of a new Paris-based research and development center for the retailer. The new line will have a debut during Paris Couture week next month in advance of hitting all Uniqlo stores this fall. Lemaire (pictured above with his new team) will also continue with his own collection of luxury apparel, but his co-designer and romantic partner, Sara-Linh Tran who had joined him the previous collaboration with will not be joining him at Uniqlo, and will focus solely on the Lemaire label.

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The new Uniqlo U logo/Courtesy Image

When the Uniqlo and Lemaire collection collection sold out almost instantly at its launch last year, it was a good bet that collaboration would be a worthy replacement for the +J collection which was created by the designer Jil Sander for the chain to great success, but instead, we were told that it would end after the second installment, remnants of which are still available in Uniqlo stores. Rather than parting ways, it turned out that the designer and the chain had bigger things in mind. The new label will be more wide ranging than the limited collaboration line (hopefully with a fuller size range at the high end) and will have its own dedicated design staff. Comparing Uniqlo U to +J, Lemaire calls his new venture ". . . a little more democratic." He tells Business of Fashion, " The biggest issue was to design things that are essential enough to be timeless, and understood by everyone. Elevated basics, I call them. Our ambition is to fill the gap between what’s fashion and what’s ‘normal.’ I know the word ‘normcore’ is overused, but there’s something about normality I find very interesting — how do you make it super normal but refined and cool and desirable?"
While it turned out that +J was something for Sander to do between stints at the label that bore her own name, Uniqlo U is structured to exist as an integral part of the chain's assortment regardless of the status of Lemaire's increasingly popular eponymous collection. Instead of being doled out to select Uniqlo flagship stores, Uniqlo U is expected to be available in all of Uniqlo's stores —1,774 of them at last count. There will be between 500,000 and 1 million of each unit produced which will hopefully ensure that the best pieces won't sell out immediately as well as create some economy of scale that will help costs from spiraling too high. We will be keeping an eye out for the first collection's unveiling next month, but will also be relieved to know that when it hits stores in the fall, it is expected to stay there for a while.

Christophe Lemaire Joins Uniqlo (Business of Fashion)

 


COLLABORATION ANTICIPATION:

Under Armour Taps Tim Coppens To Burnish Its Fashion Image

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Courtesy Image via businessoffashion.com

Last week, we suggested that athletic giant Under Armour lacked the prestige to make a case for a major flagship store that might appear in the GM Building.
We may have spoken too soon.
This morning, Business of Fashion announced that Belgian born, New York based designer Tim Coppens would be adding to his duties at his own label and joining Under Armour as  executive creative director of Under Armour Sportswear, a new, more upscale casual sub-brand for men and women to be known as UAS that will appear in stores this fall (see the logo at left). While Coppens has long incorporated athletic elements in collections for his own five-year old label, and designed for Adidas and Ralph Lauren's RLX performance athletic wear line, the UAS label will be Under Armour's first collection not designed specifically for sport, but for every day casual wear. The label will include apparel, shoes and accessories for men and women as a complete lifestyle statement, but aside from the brand's flagships in New York and Chicago, the line is expected to be found in department stores which do not typically carry the main Under Armour label, and have yet to be identified.
“It’s not activewear. It’s not athleisure,” Ben Pruess, Under Armour's senior vice president of sportswear tells BoF, “It’s very specific to this idea of young, ambitious, new generation of clothing.” Coppens calls the line “casual, lifestyle-directed” and promises that it will incorporate the technical innovations that the brand has pioneered in athletic wear into casual clothes for what he calls an "ambitious generation".
It's a natural brand extension for the athletic brand which is already worn as casual wear by many of its customers, but it is also the company's pitch to gain the kind of prestige that Nike and Adidas and even Puma have acquired over the years. Those brands have sub collections that are regularly found in influential fashion stores like Barneys, Opening Ceremony, Colette and Dover Street Market. They can boast of collaborations with celebrities and designers like Raf Simons, Rihanna, Pharrell Williams, Rick Owens, Undercover's Jun Takahashi, Riccardo Tisci and Olivier Rousteing, whose latest Nike collaboration happens to launch today. It remains to be seen if UAS will be able to scale those fashion heights, but including the CFDA darling Coppens will go along way toward ingratiating Under Armour to the kind of fashion insiders who are in a position to get the label in front of the customers it seeks. Under Armour has clearly been working to be counted among the likes of Nike and Adidas as a brand that goes beyond just providing quality athletic gear, and now, all we need to see is whether or not they can produce a product that will get them there.

Tim Coppens Designing New Line for Under Armour (Business of Fashion) 


COLLABORATION ANTICIPATION:

Olivier Rousteing's Nike Collaboration Just As Shiny As You Would Expect

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Image: instagram.com/olivier_rousteing

Another hot designer has joined the ranks of sneaker behemoth NikeLab's collaborators. Over the weekend, Balmain's creative director Olivier Rousteing announced via his Instagram that he would be joining forces to launch a NikeLab x Olivier Rousteing: Football Nouveau collection by posting a a new logo featuring the famous swoosh and his own initials in a regal shield shaped crest. The gold-and-black color scheme reflects the increasingly baroque sensibility that he expresses in his fashion collections, but, like his fellow designer Roberto Tisci of Givenchy, Rousteing's team up will be under his own name, or initials, rather than under the auspices of the Parisian label that brought him fame. Whether this is a pattern that will follow through future designer collaborations remains to be seen, but it does seem that, like Tisci, whose initial items focused on a reimagining of Nike's iconic Air Force 1 sneaker, Rousteing's collection will center around a particular theme, soccer, in this case —and lots of gold trimmings. New product images released this morning show the designer himself as model in simple black t-shirts with gold logo decals, some gilt-trimmed sweatpants and lots of golden soccer balls. He even shares one image with star footballer Cristiano Ronaldo decked out in the collection (pictured above) shot by Nick Knight. Items, also photographed on pro-footballers, include jackets, tops and pants all in black touched with gold trimming and zippers, and four Nike soccer shoes, Footscape Magista, Free Mercurial Flyknit, Roshe Tiempo VI and Free Hypervenom 2 re-imagined by Rousteing. The collection will be available as soon as next week on June 2. we are expecting the collection to appear at the NikeLab store in SoHo and at Dover Street Market as well as select other sneaker outlets that focus on the brand's more fashion-y offerings —more likely at Barneys than at Foot Locker. Get ready for another hot collaboration rush sometime this summer, and have a look at the promo video of Rousteing at work below and more of the images including some spectacular shots by Knight for Dazed and Confused magazine after the jump.

Olivier Rousteing (Instagram)
A Golden Touch: NikeLab x Olivier Rousteing (Nike News)

Football Nouveau from NIKELAB on Vimeo.

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Uniqlo's Liberty Of London Line Arrived In Stores Today With Few Crowds But Plenty Of Good Merch

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If you were worried that Uniqlo's new collaboration collection with Liberty of London was going to create the kind of frenzy that the iconic Brtish textile brand whipped up when it teamed up with Target a few years ago, then you can rest easy. Things at the Japanese chain's Fifth Avenue flagship were reasonably calm at midday today when the Shophound stopped by to check out the collaboration in person. The shelves and racks seemed fully stocked with the brand's famous florals translated into fairly classic items that should ultimately sell easily, but nobody should be put off by the notion that there might be aggressive crowds flocking to the store. Apparently, Uniqlo is not yet at Target's level of promotional skill, but maybe one day it will be.
But back to the clothes on hand, though the collection is billed as being for men and women, the men's offerings consist of a single, classic style of linen shirt in five floral patterns of a suitably masculine shades of blue. The women's collection includes several printed tees, two styles of jersey dresses —one long and one short, loose drawstring shorts along and tote bags, slippers and other accessories all in various Liberty prints. It's also priced to move with nothing under $39.90, so if the intermittent balmy weather has made you ready for flowers that have yet to bloom on their own, a printed top may be a good temporary Spring fix.
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COLLABORATION ANTICIPATION:

GQ Announces An All-Star Edition Of The Best New Menswear Designers In America

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Image: GQ.com

Every year around this time we look to see who GQ Magazine has anointed as its Best New Menswear Designers In America. For its 10th Anniversary Edition, the publication has given the current crop of burgeoning men's designers a little more time to ripen before the spotlight shines on them, and picked a group of alumni to celebrate the program's success. This year's returning honorees include Michael Bastian, who was among the first year's picks and returned again in 2011. He is back for an unprecedented third time in the program. Also among this year's all-star group are designer/retailer Steven Alan first picked in 2008, John Elliott who was last seen in the group in 2014 and Morgan Collett, Colin Tunstall and Josh Rosen of Saturdays NYC from the class of 2012.
The designers have all evolved in ways since the last time GQ first picked them out of the crowd. Bastian has built his own brand and established popular multi-season collaborations with Gant and Uniqlo. His latest project is launching his own less expensive secondary collection. Steven Alan has expanded his retail empire since 2008 as well as branched out into eyewear and home collections. The Saturdays NYC team have also expanded their retail footprint, and John Elliott has exploded his offerings from a cult tee and sweatshirt label to a fully fledged collection.
The designers will be featured in the upcoming issue of GQ and will debut their capsule collections for The Gap this September for as long as they last in stores which, historically, hasn't been for more than a hot minute or two.

Here Are GQ's 2016 Best Menswear Designers in America (GQ.com)


COLLABORATION ANTICIPATION:

Riccardo Tisci's Nike Collaboration Adds Performance Wear This Summer

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Image: Nike

Things couldn't be going better for Riccardo Tisci at Givenchy, where he may be the only designer at a luxury brand besides Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel and Fendi who seems secure and happy in his current role, but he is cleverly keeping his own signature brand alive by way of a hot collaboration with NikeLab that promises to get even hotter this summer. After his personal redesigns of the classic Nike Air Force Ones and Dunks, Tisci will be diving into activewear with a two delivery collection called NikeLab x RT: Training Redefined.
While it is likely that most of the collection for men and women will be worn as streetwear, it is designed to be fully compatible with the most intense athletic training which is why the preview image above features track-and-field star Sanya Richards-Ross and decathlete Ashton Eaton modeling looks form the line (Well, OK, they are also featured because they are potential Olympians who look fantastic in even the most mundane athletic wear, but they look even more awesome here).
What we know so far is that the first delivery in July will consist of jackets, tops, tights, shorts and footwear for men and women in black and white graphic patterns. The second delivery in August is timed and themed to tie into the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, and features lush floral prints featuring blossoms native to Portland Oregon where Nike is headquartered and was founded, Taranto, Italy where Tisci hals from, and Rio, home of this year's Olympics and a favorite travel destination of the designer. We are conservatively expecting this particular capsule collection to be huge, and it should be available at the NikeLab store in SoHo as well as other retailers that have previously offered the Nike x R.T. collaborations previously like Barneys, Dover Street Market and Kith, to name a few, though no official retailer list has been released.


COLLABORATION ANTICIPATION:

Target's Team-Up With Marimekko Hits Stores Next Month

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It's the time of year, when designer collaboration fiends start looking to the big red bullseye to find out what collection they will be clamoring to this spring. Today, that question has been answered as Target announced its upcoming 200-piece collection created with iconic Finnish design and textile house Marimekko. "We’ve had our eye on Marimekko for quite some time, and can’t wait for guests to have a chance to shop this limited-edition collection in just a few short weeks," says Target's senior vice president, product design and development, Julie Guggemos. Inspired by the nearly 24-hours of sunshine during the height of Finland's summer days, the collection includes beach and swimwear for women and girls, outdoor décor, furniture and entertaining items ranging in price from $7.99 for sunscreen to a $499.99 paddle board. Most pieces are promised to be under $50, however. Look for the frenzy to begin in only about six weeks when the collection hits stores and Target.com on April 17th.

Target Announces New Design Partnership with Marimekko: It’s Finnish, Target Style (Target Corporate)
See some more images from the collection after the jump

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COLLABORATION ANTICIPATION:

Have A Look At The First Images For Uniqlo x Liberty Of London

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We can barely keep track of Uniqlo's plethora of designer collaborations this season —and that's not a complaint. As we anticipate the launch of the next and final (sob) Uniqlo and Lemaire capsule in a couple of weeks, we can look forward to the release of the chain's team-up with Liberty of London which is now expected just a couple more weeks after that. The fast folks at Vogue UK released three images online this morning from the ad campaign that we feel confident will be festooning buses and subway cars throughout the city in a matter of weeks. Shot by superstar Nick Knight and styled by Charlotte Stockdale, the three images present the kind of medley of Liberty's renowned floral prints that we would hope to see from the famous brand. So far we only have images of the women's collection, but the collaboration will include merchandise for men and children as well. "We have selected highly popular, vibrant floral patterns from among the Liberty prints, adored throughout the world by people across generations and cultures, and brought them together with Uniqlo's cutting-edge sensibilities to be reborn as LifeWear," says Yukihiro Katsuta, Uniqlo's head of research and design. The collaboration comes as the British brand celebrates its 40th anniversary, and the images apparently only touch on the offerings to come from the collaboration. We hear that floral down puffer jackets are on the way. If you can recall the mania that ensued when Target's Pop-up for its Liberty collaboration got cleaned out in record time a few years ago, then you will know to get up early to hit either the web or a Uniqlo store on the morning of March 18th. Set your alarms now.

EXCLUSIVE: Uniqlo X Liberty First Look (Vogue UK)

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COLLABORATION ANTICIPATION:

Riccardo Tisci's New Nike Collab Drops Next Thursday

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Sometimes a short lead time is so much better than months and months of anticipation and buildup. If anyone was wondering whether or not there would be a follow-up to last year's collaboration between Nike and Givenchy creative director Riccardo Tisci, there will be.
After last year's colorful remaking of the iconic Air Force 1 sneaker, Tisci is taking on another beloved model, the Dunk. The NikeLab Dunk Lux High x RT re-proportions the classic sneaker with a higher high top, a bigger swoosh and a deeper sole that should already have fans lining up outside the few outlets where it will be sold. The black version with a white swoosh is the first to arrive on February 11th, and the reverse, white with a black or red swoosh will follow in the coming months much as the varying colorways were doled out in last year's collaboration. As the previous team-up was more about decoration, this time around it is a more minimalist take on the collectors' favorite. “The Nike Dunk has a fascinating legacy,” Tisci says in a press release. “It has been both mainstream and niche, adopted by communities of varying size and influence. But no matter the model, the Dunk has always had a cultural cachet that, as a designer, I’m quite drawn to.”
The NikeLab Dink Lux High x RT sneaker will be available at NikeLab retailers like the boutiques on Mercer Street in SoHo and inside Dover Street Market as well as other select stores who have remained unnamed but very likely comprise the usual suspects who sold the last collaboration (Kith? Barney's? etc.). It will also be available online at nike.com/nikelab, so set your alarms to line up early, and look for it to be the prized footwear of choice among runway showgoers as Fashion Week shifts into high gear for the women's collections.


COLLABORATION ANTICIPATION:

UNIQLO and LEMAIRE Arrives In About 6 Weeks
See The New Lookbook Images
UPDATED

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For those of you who have been waiting for the arrival of the Spring edition of the Uniqlo and Lemaire collaboration, the countdown has begun. The chain's global website for the line designed by Christophe Lemaire and Sarah-linh Tran went live today with flat preview images of every single item plus a bunch of lookbook shots on models to get a better idea of the pieces' fit and proportions. There are no radical surprises for spring, just more of those sophisticated basics in a muted color palette that look much more expensive than they actually are. As with last fall's debut collection, there are tons of great knits, this time in cotton. Overall, the prices actually seem a bit lower than last season, if you can believe it. Many of the sellout items from last season have been translated into lighter weight fabrics including some of those heavy woolen men's trousers that sat on the racks but seem much more appealing now in more seasonal materials. The great shirts are now available in an expanded range of colors and fabrics including bold, summery awning stripes, and there are plenty of new spring items like shorts, tanks and a great cotton blouson jacket just to name a few.
The collection arrives in stores and online on March 4th and, as with last season, the complete collection will only be available in the three Uniqlo flagships in Manhattan on Fifth Avenue, 34th Street and Broadway in SoHo, so start setting your plan of attack now. A smaller, select assortment will be available in in only three more stores in California including Union Square in San Francisco, South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa and the Beverly Center in Los Angeles. Everyone else will have to on alert for the when the collection hits the web on March 4th. If last season's response is any indication, you won't have too much time to get what you want in the size you need, so set your alarms, and pick out what you want to buy early.

UPDATE:
There's good news and bad news.
First the good: Uniqlo has announced that as a result of last year's strong positive response to the collaboration, the number of stores carrying Uniqlo and Lemaire in the U.S. will be increased to nine including Chicago and other unspecified locations. It will be also be made available in 16 additional markets and regions.
Now the bad: According to the retailer, this will be the final edition of the Uniqlo and Lemaire collaboration. While they had hinted that it might be a continuing program like the Ines de la Fressange line, this will be the last iteration of the collection, so don't sleep on it. It's not coming back next fall.

Uniqlo and Lemaire (Official Site)

See the new lookbook after the jump

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UNIQLO and LEMAIRE Arrives In About 6 Weeks
See The New Lookbook Images
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