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Dwyane Wade has named Alejandro Ingelmo as creative consultant for special projects for his startup Wade sport lifestyle brand created with China’s Li-Ning Co. For his first project, Ingelmo is designing two off-court fashion sneakers that will be available at retail in the spring.
This story first appeared in the December 6, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“I’ve been a fan of Alejandro Ingelmo for a long time now and from the moment I partnered with Li-Ning, I’ve been excited to bring him onto our design team,” said Wade, a two-time NBA champion with the Miami Heat. “Alejandro’s knowledge of mixing fashion and street elements into his designs mirrors my personal style and the vision for the footwear we’ll be bringing to the market.”
Wade, 30, announced the launch of his own Wade footwear and apparel brand with Li-Ning in October, after ending a three-year association with Nike’s Jordan Brand.
The first sneaker designed by Ingelmo is an off-court style that translates the look and feel of the Way of Wade on-court shoe by Li-Ning that Wade began sporting in games this season. “It’s a similar construction to the court shoe but it’s a bit more modern, with cleaner lines and it’s more fashion-forward and refined,” explained Ingelmo of the new high-top models, which will come in black-on-black or metallic colorways.
While the on-court Way of Wade shoe will retail for $130 starting in mid-February, Ingelmo’s off-court lifestyle version will retail for about $150, beginning in March. Li-Ning plans to launch Ingelmo’s designs at Ingelmo’s own SoHo boutique in Manhattan and then expand to e-commerce and influential specialty stores in April and May. The company is holding meetings with retailers next week to show samples and discuss distribution rollout, said Brian Cupps, the Beijing-based director of brand initiative for basketball at Li-Ning.
Ingelmo was nominated for the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s Swarovski Award for Accessory Design in 2009 and 2011. The designer operates a boutique on Wooster Street and wholesales to Barneys New York and Neiman Marcus, among other specialty stores. His men’s business has grown from 20 percent of total brand sales a few years ago to 50 percent of total sales today.
Beijing-based Li Ning Co. Ltd. manufactures and markets the Li-Ning brand of active apparel, footwear, accessories and equipment primarily in China. It holds licenses to manufacture and distribute outdoor sports product under France’s Aigle brand and Italy’s Lotto brand. It also markets table-tennis equipment under the Double Happiness brand through a majority-owned subsidiary and sells badminton equipment under the Kason brand.
Li-Ning’s Wade brand is a full assortment of footwear and apparel, with kids and accessories planned for the future. Both basketball and lifestyle apparel will launch in China and the U.S. in February.
The apparel component includes three tiers of price and design: the core Premium line available in the U.S. and China; the Wade Inspired range that is more commercially focused and only available in China, and the Pinnacle collection that will be sold at special events, such as around the NBA All-Star Game, said Cupps. The color scheme for the apparel is black and red, inspired by Wade’s Chicago roots.
A separate Wade apparel collection will hit retail in April with Miami-inspired color tones of whites, pinks and fluorescents for spring.