If there’s one thing you should read this weekend, it’s Irina Aleksander’s strikingly sharp and realistic feature for The New York Times on how the fashion industry collapsed, even before coronavirus became the new normal. I still believe that in the end, we will want to wear something else than just sweatshirts and sweatpants. But one specific part of this text seems to be so easy to comprehend that it’s unbelievable that the industry has never caught up with this concept: clothes aren’t food. They don’t rot after a week, neither after six months. According to Aleksander, some brands have in plans to push the unseen and unsold 2020 collections to 2021 to avoid losses. As simple as that… and yet, there’s one big obstacle. “The fascinating part is that in order to do that – to give that aged inventory value again – requires killing fashion, that nebulous deity that says something is ‘in’ this year and not the next”. So, to make it work, it’s not just about the designer – who would definitely love to take a break from everything to refuel – but the corporate floor and the customer. We should learn to slow down with that love for the “new” and appreciate what’s “now” – or at least, try to take a second look at it. To my surprise (as I already thought way back in spring that it’s a logical step to make for a lot of brands out there), for the resort 2021 season, Maryam Nassir Zadeh is probably the only designer who actually did this. She actually made old… new. Here’s how. Zadeh didn’t cut a single new garment. Instead, she put together a “hand-picked” collection of items from the past, reimagined and recontextualized for now. Years and seasons collapse in many of the looks: a white button-down from autumn-winter 2020 was styled with an ivory leather skirt from spring-summer 2020; a pair of striped shorts circa spring-summer 2019 were paired with a autumn-winter 2020 knee-high boot, redone here with a black lace shaft. Bikinis and strappy bras, often styled alone as tops nodded to her swim-heavy spring-summer 2018 show. Well… that’s brilliant! Maryam resurrected these items not just because they deserve a second look or feel newly relevant, but also because it seemed like a more sustainable way of doing things. In their walk down memory lane, Zadeh and her team only chose pieces they knew they had enough leftover fabric to make. They didn’t want to invest in making new patterns or ordering silks and wools from Italy: “It isn’t even just about sustainability in recycled materials, it’s about sustainability of time,” Zadeh told Vogue. “We never have enough time to order new fabrics from Italy, and the turnaround times [between collections] are so short.” And back to the collection: it’s quintessentially MNZ. Her sensitivity to what’s “in the air” means we will all soon be obsessed – and other brands as well. On the list are: shorter hemlines, colorful silk button-downs, men’s shirts and tailoring, anything lace, and retro embellished belts, styled here as “spice ups” on otherwise simple jersey dresses. “There’s a real personality and style to the collection,” Zadeh said. “It’s easy and wearable, but still special, because we’re mixing these strong basics with novelty accessories.” In the past, Zadeh has described that MNZ balance as “odd elegance”, and that’s still true for her eponymous label. Take notes everybody.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
I’m not an Adidas guy. But I love Lotta Volkova, the Vladivostok-raised stylist, who helped Demna Gvasalia shape Vetements and Balenciaga, has clients like The Marc Jacobs and Vogue Italia, and is one of the most sought after fashion editor of today. “Adidas approached me around two years ago with an idea to work on an undefined project together,” she tells Vogue, noting of her suprisingly mainstream collaborator: “I find it interesting to exercise your ideas in the broader audience spectrum.” In an interview, she continues: “I feel Adidas has always been around. What I mean is it has been such a reference in Eastern European culture, as well as Western subcultures, interpreted in so many ways. And its influence has gone way further outside of sports or even the fashion milieu. For example, I love those kids in Russia who tattoo Adidas stripes on themselves, or shave them out on their heads, or make those stripes into massive stickers, branding their cars.” That subcultural element is present in collaboration pieces that toe the knockoff-real line. Stretch skater dresses appear worn over triple-stripe stay-ups, tracksuits are reimagined as boilersuits, and the brand’s omnipresent slide sandals are pumped up with a wedge heel (super cute). A swimsuit and matching swim cap, both in a wave graphic, are sort of camp, sort of ironic, and totally ideal for the Olympics, if only the event hadn’t been postponed to 2021. These pieces might seem almost like a fashion parody at first, but each is fundamentally grounded in the brand’s extensive archive. And they feel quintessentially Lotta. The stylist names “the earliest pieces of clothing Adidas ever produced” as references for her designs. “For example, the green tracksuit was inspired by the first tracksuit Adidas ever made,” she explains. “Regarding footwear, I was interested to see if Adidas has ever made a heeled shoe, and we discovered the trefoil mules that gave inspiration for the Adilette. Also, I like a very hands-on, DIY approach, which inspired the windbreaker pieces with hardware zips applications.” The important question: How will the stylist of a generation be styling her own collection? “Depending on your style, the items can be mixed with your dailywear or worn head to toe and still maintain a chic, relaxed look inspired by sportswear,” she begins. “For example, I like to wear the zipped jumpsuit with my Chanel flats or any high heels. The super-high-rise swimsuit can be a great top worn with skirts, pants, or any bottoms as well as functioning swimwear.” The pieces are on sale from August 13!
Collage by Edward Kanarecki, look-book photos by Johnny Dufort.