Who ever said streetwear was on the wane? It came roaring back at Li-Ning’s coed spring lineup, a bright, sporty, pop-flavored offering of polo shirts, tracksuits and Windbreakers. The Chinese label, which is gearing up for its 30th anniversary next year, channeled its retro-cool optimism with spurts of yellow, flashes of peach and a lot of tennis green. Cuts were mostly trim, but also loose and easy; the more elegant options came in a muted beige.
For the label’s second runway show at Paris Men’s Fashion Week, the theme was ping-pong, which came on the soundtrack and bounced around the room on the clothing, as a graphic rendering of a bird’s eye view of a table, ball and paddle. A canary yellow oversize v-neck was officially stamped “Central Chinese alliance for ping-pong diplomatic relations.” Mini ball and paddle motifs also ran down the sides of tracksuit bottoms. The lineup was imaginative and charming, and one could easily imagine its appeal will strike large — which is the point. Having seduced its home market, the label has its eye to expansion abroad.
Guests — who included the label’s founder, champion gymnast Li Ning — sat under a ginormous reflective ball, tapping their feet to the music, glancing up occasionally to see themselves in the rows of seating that wove around the room.
The show started with dim lighting and a flag bearing army, all black from head to foot. The models wore chunky, black sneakers, with flashing, white lights — a new version of the Aurora sneaker, from a collaboration with Stefano Pilati’s label Random Identities. This was the official kickoff.