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NEW YORK — With next month’s opening of a pop-up store and gallery and an exhibition titled “The Art of Knit,” the United Colors of Benetton will once again be living up to its controversial reputation.
This story first appeared in the August 24, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Visitors to the 2,200-square-foot space will see artist Erik Ravelo’s “Lana Sutra” knitted sculptures, life-size figures of couples entwined in various Kama Sutra positions. Ravelo once said of the Lana Sutra series, “I’m a human being and I don’t believe in borders. I think the world belongs to everyone born on Earth. This is my planet, our planet. No man is an island. Yes, I was born on Cuba but, above all, I was born on planet Earth. I like to think that Lana Sutra talks about universal love which cancels diversity.”
As its name suggests, “The Art of Knit” will be a melange of colorful, knitted art, design and fashion that will open Sept. 6 at 135 Crosby Street here in a former garage next door to a BP station. Set to run through December, the SoHo space is a collaboration between You Nguyen, Benetton’s chief merchandising officer and creative director, who designed the women’s and men’s fall collections, and Sam Baron, design director of Fabrica, the Benetton Group’s center for communication research where international artists develop innovative art and media projects. Ravelo is among the Fabrica artists whose work will be displayed.
Visitors will enter through open garage doors on either end of the long rectangular space to find a range of 12 colors that designers and artists used as inspiration. The installation will be composed of art knitted by resident Fabrica artists, mixed with design objects that will be available for sale, and a cornucopia of Benetton sweaters. A $30 cable-knit iPad case, a $45 dog sweater, a $119 Fair Isle knit dress and a $95 women’s slashed V-neck sweater with $29 coordinating arm warmers will be among the offerings.
The way the company sees the whole assortment of wool-covered curiosities, “The space celebrates United Colors of Benetton’s commitment to creativity through art, craftsmanship, the use of color and its roots as a knitwear brand. In true Benetton style it is a celebration of diversity — needless to say you are also welcome.”
Through its brands, United Colors of Benetton, Undercolors of Benetton, Sisley and Playlife, the Benetton Group is sold in 120 countries, and has a network of more than 6,500 stores, including 65 stores in the U.S. and Canada.