Interview with Serge CARREIRA (Fashion and luxury expert & professor at Sciences Po)
By Thomas ZYLBERMAN (Stylist & Trends analyst at CARLIN Creative Trend Bureau)
THOMAS ZYLBERMAN: These last seasons have been marked by the multiplication of collaborations between sportswear and luxury brands – clearly a major trend – meaning it only makes sense to question what the future holds for these types of joint ventures.
One of the latest collaborations of this nature, creating an enviable amount of hype, is the association of FENDI with FILA. A match made in heaven, especially with the adaptation of the FENDI logo written in FILA signature typography. Given the number of such collaborations recently, though, the fashion world is becoming increasingly saturated by them and risks overdosing soon, making them lose all their appeal…
SERGE CARREIRA: The explosion of sportswear and streetwear is obvious, supported by the idea of everyday “normcore”. It’s a new language which enables a much more direct approach towards a new generation – but with the risk of becoming too much and becoming trivial.
There are 2 important aspects to be considered: above all, the existence and importance of today’s consumers’ yearning for clothes that are comfortable, wearable and suitable for everyday life. This detail strikes out particularly within the Asian market, which represents a good chunk of the global market and whose consumers lead its growth. The second element is the need for these collaborations – and their final products – to be truly distinctive and original. Luxury products’ vocation, after all, is to be the bearer of distinction. Oversupply can thus lead to banalization of (luxury) brands that have not thought their collaborations meticulously through. Yet even those who are successful in the choice of their partnerships cannot limit their creative production to such. Gucci, for example, has successfully integrated streetwear codes in its latest collections – but the real challenge is to stay true to their own DNA. Today’s thinking behind the creative processes is rather about the expression of the brand’s values than the creation of something completely new. It is about presenting the brand’s own and unique style.
« The real challenge is to stay true to your own DNA. »
TZ: The latest AW18 fashion shows, and especially the ones by Italian brands, were overflowing with all the sport codes imaginable – think tracksuits everywhere – no matter the brand’s affiliation with such codes (or rather, the lack thereof). Yet by the time SS19 shows were held, the sport references present in almost every fashion editorial up until then have pretty much disappeared – except amongst brands whose DNA is based on sport codes (e.g. Off White). Suddenly this “magical formula” of printing huge logos was gone and it’s getting increasingly pertinent to ask if the time has come when only brands with sports incrusted in their DNA will be able to continue doing these collaborations. Alas, the rest of them will have to move on to the next big trend.
SC: Interestingly enough, the approximation of fashion and sports is double-axed. First of all, brands approach the sports world by creating more sport-oriented collections than ever. Consequently, sports brands multiplied their collaborations to the point of becoming major fashion brands (e.g. Nike, Converse or Adidas). This effectively eliminated the almost tangible line between the technicity of sportswear and the sports world in general, and between the stylish, creative world. Nowadays we see a mixture of those two, with significantly dissimilar meanings for sports and luxury brands. The former views collaborations as a way to achieve a new level of legitimacy and to become more attractive. The latter, on the other hand, simply seeks to reach a new target – the younger generation – by appealing to them through sports. The novelty of the first Louis Vuitton x Supreme collaboration in 2017 was soon replaced by the integration of the concept by all the key fashion houses.
Let me remind you though that the alliance between sports and luxury isn’t a novelty at all. Historically fashion designers have been interested in sportswear since the mid-1920s. The designer Jean Patou opened a specialized sports boutique in 1925 called “Le Coin des Sports” (The Sports Corner) and in 1933 he presented a winter sports collection for professional female skiers. In the 1930s, Hermès started selling sports, swimming and beach outfits – outfits that easily became a part of everyday routines – a lifestyle. Between the 1920s and the 1930s, when sports was still an elitist activity, luxury fashion houses offered such articles. Today, the references are completely different; the sports universe represents an imaginary sourcing its inspiration from pop culture, something more underground – but at the same time, it needs to keep on representing something attainable, wearable every day and relatable to a variety of lifestyles.
Simply put, sports isn’t a new way of creative expression for designers – nonetheless it’s one of the key elements in their creative process. The two universes shall become one.
JEAN PATOU 1928 Photo Hoyningen-Huene
Both being very innovative, the next step for luxury brands is to take use of sportswear’s technicity to create exclusive and highly exceptional products, and not just slap a logo in a sports font on random products.
T.Z: However the boom disappeared as quickly as it appeared, and the fashion industry is beginning to distance itself from street style and sports style codes… To be continued in part 2 !