When the lockdown started in mid-March, Siddhartha Shukla thought it would have been tone deaf to simply promote Theory’s winter 2020 collection like nothing had changed. For that reason, the chief brand officer opted instead to take a two-pronged approach to the spring season.

“We were thinking about the most effective way to tell our story and not follow old formulas,” he said ahead of the brand’s digital debut. So rather than a runway show or elaborate virtual presentation, the brand went for a more-subdued approach titled, “The Theory of Now.”

“The narrative takes place in two parts,” Shukla explained. First is “Reinvention,” which highlighted key pieces from the winter/pre-spring collection that was quietly shown to retailers earlier this year. As a reflection of the times, the collection was shot all indoors, but in a high-energy manner that is intended to speak to the rediscovery that people experienced at the start of the pandemic as they were cocooned in their homes. 

“How does the Theory customer, a working urban sophisticate, negotiate today’s changed world?” Shukla questioned. “A brand like ours – which has been known for workwear for most of its existence – is not suddenly going to rewrite its codes. Theory’s mission now needs to redefine workwear for a new reality.” 

For winter, men’s and women’s wear focused on fine-tuning this new work attire — from dresses to knits — with an attention to comfort, alongside revamped outerwear. “Workwear becomes life-wear,” he called it.

The second chapter, “Renewal,” makes up the brand’s new spring collection. Pieces still have a sophisticated, urban aesthetic but are softer and more comfortable. For instance, a classic women’s trouser came fully knit alongside other cozy staples — mid-length dresses and matching sets — and sophisticated garb. Contrasting winter, spring’s imagery was shot outdoors, intended to reflect current attitudes where people are comfortable spending time outside their homes.

“It’s the counterpoint to winter,” Shukla said.

From sophisticated loungewear to easy dresses and soft suiting, the women’s attire offered “of the now” wardrobe essentials without being overtly trendy. The aesthetic was similar in men’s, where the brand made a point of not showing nested suits, but separates mixed with other, more casual pieces.

All in all, this idea of showcasing two complementary yet distinct collections at once in these unprecedented times seemed innovative.

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