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CLASSIC SPIN: Rei Kawakubo sure does love a classic with a twist. Case in point: the multitude of riffs on the plain white shirt that become architectural feats of design at Comme des Garçons. She also fancies polka dots. It was these two philosophies that fueled a collaboration with Bata Tennis, maker of the simple white-canvas tennis shoe invented in 1894 in what is now the Czech Republic.

The original Bata Tennis shoe has been produced in Batanagar, India (named so for the sneakers), since 1936, but had fallen solely into local distribution there until last year when Charles Pignal, the great-grandson of Bata founder Tomás Bata, relaunched and revamped the brand for the global marketplace. Dover Street Market in Tokyo was the first to place an order for the spanking-white kicks, so it was only fitting that Bata’s first collaboration with a fashion house was with the market’s owner, Kawakubo and Comme des Garçons.

This story first appeared in the November 18, 2014 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Pignal recalled a visit to CDG’s first pop-up store in East Berlin, “in a building where no other fashion brand would think of opening a store. I very much like this philosophy of doing things that are completely different. It’s what makes the world move forward.” Still, he admitted it was a challenge convincing Bata executives that “this was a massive opportunity” to collaborate in limited distribution with CDG.

Adrian Joffe, chief executive officer of the Paris-based label, said CDG “jumped at the chance” to carry the shoes in its flagships. “We greatly admire authenticity, simplicity and tradition,” Joffe said. “Bata Tennis is the perfect epitome of these things.”

The styles, which come in two variations on black polka dots and retail for $120, will be available the first week of December at CDG flagships worldwide, Dover Street Market locations, and Colette in Paris.

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