To celebrate today’s debut of the Reebok x Victoria Beckham spring collection, a party will get under way in downtown Manhattan after 9 p.m. The British designer will return to the Lower East Side Wednesday morning for a question-and-answer session with Melody Ehsani followed by media walk-throughs at Ludlow House.
Beckham’s fashion élan can also be seen in the ad campaign that was photographed by Mario Sorrenti and styled by Alastair McKimm. Building on the streetwear vein that dominates anything remotely athletic in fashion, Beckham has designed slouchy drawstring trousers, a short-sleeved hoodie, orange leggings and other work-to-workout looks that can be worn by women or men. There are also more gender-specific styles like a sports bra and crop top. After previewing “a little merch collection” last spring in Los Angeles alongside former NBA-er Shaquille O’Neal, today’s debut is the designer’s first full-fledged collection with Reebok.
“I have wanted to venture into the fitness space for some time now and so this partnership really addresses a need in my own life. I’ve always struggled to find high-performance clothing that doesn’t compromise on style — and that’s exactly what I wanted to create. Working out is an integral part of my life and so my vision for this has been really clear,” Beckham said.
Given her transient designer lifestyle, her husband’s professional soccer experience and her children’s near-constant-motion lives, Beckham grasps how these elements collide to her advantage. “The sports apparel and sneaker world is a real leader in releasing well-timed drops of covetable product, not necessarily defined by a seasonal calendar. It’s a modern approach that I really admire. We’re a really sporty family — sports have always been a way that we spend quality time together, whether it’s the kids playing football in the garden, or hiking when we’re in L.A,” she said. “So, sportswear is definitely an area that our whole family shares an interest in. I love hearing the children talk about what brands they’re into at the moment and what drops they are waiting for — so knowing what pieces they love from my collection has been really inspiring.”
Describing the collaboration as “a strong match,” Karen Reuther, Reebok’s vice president of creative direction said, “The partnership with Victoria is really an intentional decision to work with a fashion designer, and really invest in the line with this trusted partner and in her vision.”
Reebok executives declined to specify the length of the deal or the investment in it, calling it “a long-term deal.” As is the case with Reebok’s collaboration with Pyer Moss’ Kerby Jean-Raymond, the one with Beckham benefits each respective party. Reuther said, “They inspire our brand, as much as our brand inspires them,” Reuther said. “I know having started just six months ago, these are two that I feel extremely strong and confident about, as I do with Vetements and Cottweiler, too.…There is such a strong red thread through Victoria’s vision and the way the product comes to life, the way the collections are built and the way the merchandise is displayed together.”
The intent of the partnership is not to invest in Beckham’s company, nor is that something that has been discussed or brought to the table, according to a Reebok spokesman. Reebok still plans to be in the black by 2020 — a target identified by chief executive officer Kasper Rorsted last year. In terms of Reebok’s overall sales, the women’s business accounts for 40 percent. Reebok does not share the sales breakdown of its various collaborations and partnerships. The Boston-based brand has been racking up plenty of uber-influencers. Cardi B was one of the more recent ambassadors to sign on, falling in line behind such others as Ariana Grande and Gigi Hadid. As for whether they will be wearing items from the spring line, Beckham wrote, “I hope so! We’re making sure all of Reebok’s other brand partners have pieces from the collection — so I would love to see that.”
As for how Beckham distinguishes her designs in this competitive field, she wrote, “I really see this as a lifestyle collection — that encapsulates both performance and fashion, while thinking about how those two worlds can live together to create a collection for your everyday wardrobe. These are pieces that can seamlessly take you through your day-to-day. At the same time I brought in the attention to design detail I apply to all my brand collections and incorporated some unisex pieces — unisex is so prominent at the moment and was a key element for me when designing the collection. Fundamentally, it’s all about clothes that people can really wear.”
Reebok’s collaboration with Beckham will be sold via a micro site and in premium stores. The collaborative site has fashion-forward content from Sorrenti’s shoot and styling images among other features. With this campaign squared away, Sorrenti is on to other projects, including his solo show “Kate” this spring at the Dallas Contemporary, where 58 photos of Kate Moss will be shown and a never-before-seen video of the model.
Revenues at Victoria Beckham Holdings were up 17 percent to 42.5 million pounds in fiscal year 2017, with operating losses rising to 10.2 million pounds from 8.2 million pounds in the previous year. The extended reach that Beckham will have through Reebok should bode well with her own company’s ceo Paolo Riva and chairman Ralph Toledano. Her brand has a 30-million-pound minority investment by Neo Investment Partners. To focus on digital-first, direct-to-consumer, the designer recently hired former American Vogue style editor Edward Barsamian in the new role of head of editorial. Beckham is also at work on her own YouTube channel.
But getting back to Reebok, executives said putting women first whether that be in designing or investing in products has been a priority for the past few years. The brand’s PureMove bra, which landed on Time magazine’s best inventions list of 2018, is a standout product. “When you look at the DNA of the brand, it is rooted in this perfect mixture of sport, street and culture. The more important that becomes to her, the more relevant we become as a brand. That is our place, right? We have always been that brand where it all comes together,” she said.
Reuther, a Nike Inc. executive who joined Reebok last year, said, “If you look at Victoria’s line, it’s a leading and inspiring direction for our brand in that it’s very inclusive cross-gender.…We are super-optimistic that it will broaden the reach of our brand to the places where we could be and should be playing in — the fashion space — but in a really authentic way. Victoria’s vision itself is so strong and confident that it aligns with our consumer and it will certainly broaden the reach of our consumer.”
Both parties described the project as “a true collaboration,” with Beckham working with Reebok’s design and development teams. Beckham said, “When entering into a new category, I always make sure I am doing so with the support of experts in that particular field — which Reebok [is].”
Reuther offered another take. “It’s been an interesting learning [experience] around the sportswear, apparel and footwear for Victoria. Also, frankly for our team, because when you see this collection, she has certainly upped the game in silhouette, fit, fabric and finish for our team, as well.”