On the eve of Milan Fashion Week, performance apparel company Colmar unveiled its collaboration with American designer Shayne Oliver with a party filled with fake snow, held Tuesday night at the Arco Della Pace venue here.
The collaboration between Oliver and Colmar falls under the sportswear company’s A.G.E. project, which stands for Advanced Garment Exploration. The company plans to conscript designers and other creative types to give its heritage with a contemporary take.
Oliver’s capsule collection comprises three different drops. While the first delivery — priced at between 500 euros and 2,200 euros — is already available at six locations worldwide including Browns in London, I.T. in Hong Kong, New York’s Totokaelo, Gr8 in Tokyo, Milan’s Excelsior and online at Ssense, the second drop is slated to hit retail in December. Colmar chief executive officer Giulio Colombo said a third capsule is expected for fall 2019.
“I do like to be subversive, … I do think that people are spending a lot of money on really basic, normal clothes and I wanted to add a bit of design,” said Oliver. And so he did, giving Colmar’s signature outerwear pieces exaggerated proportions, at times layering them or transforming them into capes and trimmed with fur. He paired them with denim pants, cowboy boots and technical over-pants. Oliver said he wanted to “maintain the usability of the garment itself,” and added that the process of stretching the silhouettes was triggered by a solo trip on the Austrian Alps where he found inspiration in the way people “would wear ski clothes on a normal daily basis.”
Delving into the brand’s archive, Oliver discovered colors that he said were new to him: “I found [in the archive] this section that was so outrageous from the mid-Eighties and I didn’t use specifically those color hues but I took them as an inspiration, to introduce new color ideas into outerwear,” he said. The first drop features rusty greens, shades of navy and an overall muted palette only peppered with slashes of pink and olive green, while the second iteration largely employs off white and baby pink.
“This is an important challenge, the name [A.G.E] itself references the creation of a virtual space as we needed a different platform to showcase these collections which are very different from the Colmar main line and where our 95-year-old history is reinterpreted,” said Colombo.
Colombo underscored the importance of such collaborations to engage with younger customers, including in Asia and the U.S.
On a hiatus from Hood by Air, the streetwear brand and collective he cofounded with Leilah Weinraub and which was paused last year, Oliver has collaborated first with Helmut Lang in 2017 and last March with Diesel on the first iteration of the brand’s Red Tag project. The designer noted that working on capsule collections with established brands “is like a sort of study, like a class of techniques and restraint and skills … [it’s about] making these things that have so much history behind them speak my language,” he said.
“I’ve been working on Hood By Air and also figuring out my own collection … I’ve been designing and designing and categorizing it. [Asking myself] ‘Is this more Hood by Air, or is it more Shayne?’ I’m creating my own archive of stuff before I even show them,” he explained, hinting at a possible return of both the collective and his namesake labels.