MILAN — Italian contemporary footwear and apparel label Ash has teamed with Polish illustrator Filip Pagowski to launch a limited-edition capsule collection of sneakers. The styles will premiere at 10 Corso Como concept store here during Milan Fashion Week, on Sept. 22, when the partnership will be feted with an installation and cocktail event.“This collaboration with Filip Pagowski is a great opportunity to celebrate some of the most iconic elements of the brand and extend Ash into a new territory,” said the label’s cofounder and creative director Patrick Ithier.Ithier revealed he has been a fan of the illustrator’s work for some time for his “simple yet graphically driven” designs. The idea of a collaboration came up after he met Pagowski last year. “Filip was really intrigued by the technical process of making shoes and I enjoyed sharing the technical know-how with him.…Everything happened organically and the partnership was a natural fit,” Ithier said.Renown for creating the heart logo for Comme des Garçons’ Play collection, Pagowski selected two of Ash’s best-selling sneaker styles to showcase his exclusive artwork. Available both for men’s and women’s, the designs feature the graphic “Tweed” herringbone pattern in black, red and white and the more playful “Flame” motif, showcasing big black, yellow and white elements. The illustrator also introduced the initial of his name into the graphics to mark his artistic intervention.Ithier was enthused about the outcome, as such reinterpretation of the styles ”brings a fresh dynamism to the brand, which will appeal to a younger fashion customer.”Showcased in custom shoe boxes, the capsule collection will retail at prices ranging from $221 for women’s sneakers to $239 for men’s.After the unveiling, the capsule collection will be rolled out in select retailers in the rest of Europe and consequentially in the rest of the world in early December.In addition, a range of T-shirts, socks, bags and pouches designed by Pagowski for the brand will be released in late fall, with prices ranging from $10 for the socks to $221 for the “Flame” bag set.The full capsule collection will be globally available to purchase exclusively on the brand’s e-commerce site, which will be launched on Sept. 27.“On the business side, things are evolving fast this year. We are an international brand that has been restricted to offline stores and third-party e-commerce sites,” said Ithier, underscoring how the new digital platform is key in the company’s global expansion and enables the label to engage “a wider and digital-savvy audience.”Founded in 2000, Ash is the brainchild of Ithier’s creative vision and of Italian entrepreneur Leonello Calvani. Established as a footwear label, Ash quickly expanded its offerings to include kids’ footwear, handbags and accessories. In 2015, the brand’s first ready-to-wear collection was launched under the moniker Ash Studio Paris.A further category extension is on Ithier’s agenda for the next future. “In spring 2018 we will launch a small collection of Ash active wear line to complement our sneakers,” he revealed, highlighting the importance of constantly developing the brand to continue to appeal to consumers. “I’m constantly observing and taking inspiration from women on the streets — especially when I travel. Shoes are important to me, but how they match their outfits, how they walk and act, are really the triggers of how I design shoes.”Last year, Ash registered sales of over $500 million, with projections indicating around 10 percent growth in sales for 2017. The label counts an extensive retail network of over 200 brand stores and 600 point of sales worldwide. “This fall we will also open up to eight new stand-alone stores in China and unveil our new concept store,” concluded Ithier. Plans for future retail expansion also include new doors in Europe, the Middle East and Southeast Asia.
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