LONDON — Matthew Williamson is launching an activewear line in collaboration with fitness label USA Pro.
The collection — a 10-piece capsule that includes leggings, sports bras, tank tops and sweatshirts — incorporates some of Williamson’s most identifiable prints.
They include a bright pink and orange psychedelic print; a new darker snake print, and a kaleidoscopic butterfly print, which the designer is developing as a brand signature.
“This print is a favorite of mine, it was developed around 2007 and it represents everything that I am about as a designer. I think it’s optimistic, feminine, ethereal, and whimsical — it’s a positive motif that I often have fond memories of creating,” Williamson told WWD. “So we’re now trying to establish this pattern as a brand signature. An example is that when you buy online now, you get the pattern on the box.”
The designer added that his focus is to create products of premium quality that will stand out in an oversaturated market, with a focus on details such as the seams or the addition of tape inside leggings to make sure they sit well.
“I’m no expert in sportswear, but USA Pro are experts in the field, so this was a project I was keen to do. There are a lot of technicalities involved with the fabric alone, so I worked with the team, who are obsessed with the technological side of creating the clothes, to make sure that ours are really good quality because there’s so much out there,” Williamson said.
“When you wear them they should make you feel like you’ve got control. The fabric itself is double-bonded — it’s almost like a scuba fabric, so it holds you in. There are also many areas where traditionally there would be a seam, like the outside of the leg, but the pattern cutting has been done so that we can avoid having too many seams. I definitely learned a lot from the process.”
The collection is available to pre-order on the designer’s website and will land in stores on June 20.
Prices range from 65 pounds, or $95, to 140 pounds, or $204.
Williamson began reorganizing his business model last year to focus on a direct-to-consumer approach. He closed his Mayfair flagship, and now produces six capsule collections a year. He has expanded into new product categories such as furniture and stationery.
“I think there’s something about what I do that is so rooted in textiles and patterns much more than changing the silhouette — it’s not pure fashion. People are not looking at the new shape. It’s more about people who love to walk into a room and feel like a peacock. That, luckily for me, lends itself to furniture, candles and bed linen,” said Williamson.
Talking of the shift in his business strategy, the designer said it was based “on gut, my age, my shift of ambition and I think there were also messages from the industry at large with the digital evolution, so it wasn’t an overnight decision.”
“For me, shows were becoming less valuable. Now, I can talk directly to my customer and Rosanna [Falconer, business director at Matthew Williamson] can receive data from her. We know who she is and that’s an amazing dialogue to have going on.”
Williamson added that following his foray into athletic wear, he will be adding three more product categories to his label later this year. He declined to provide specifics at this stage.