In some of the previous posts about the latest menswear collections we have seen how there is a pretty strong trend at the moment - sportswear and streetwear inspired by modern urban youth hanging around suburbs, cities or shopping malls.
In their collections Cottweiler designers Matthew Dainty and Ben Cottrell often move from young people living in urban areas, but their main aim is creating sportswear pieces that can be used for all sorts of occasions.
For their A/W 17 collection showcased during London Fashion Week Men's, the design duo turned to nature and came up with a rather bizarre concept - imagining the possibility of camping not in woods but in shopping malls with all the implications that may come from giving up nature in favour of a synthetic existence.
Hence they came up with nylon and fleece suits in strong shades of violet, dark blue, or emerald green and black characterized by geometrical cuts and matched with functional accessories including rolled sleeping bags and inflatable mattresses.
A holographic swan motif (their current equivalent for a logo, even though the duo doesn't like external branding), headlamps and hand-blown claw shaped glass pendants added a touch of clubbing-meets-survival edge to the collection and, while knit pants provided a variation in this sort of plastic apocalypse, showpieces such as the tracksuit bottoms covered in shredded fabrics that gave them an unwanted car wash brush effect, should have been edited out as they didn't add anything to the collection.
This was Cottweiler's formally second-ever runway show (though the duo has been around for a while and was also shortlisted for the LVMH Prize), and so far the designers have mainly focused on dystopian ideas for a future in which garments in highly technical fabrics mirror a dynamic life.
Things didn't change for their capsule collection with Reebok launched during the Pitti tradeshow in Florence.
For the occasion they did a presentation in the crypt of the Marino Marini Museum that was transformed for the evening into a sort of relaxing spa with one model covered in relaxing salts, and others lying on beds emitting UV lights (though they looked disturbingly dead and half wrapped in synthetic shrouds...).
The garments were made with manufacturing techniques and fabrics that have a therapeutic effect on the body. So this was conceived as a capsule collection to wear after a performance rather than during a sport activity, with neoprene deviced as a memory foam padding to cocoon the body rather than as a fabric highly resistant to extreme temperatures and activities.
The press release ranted about clothes that feel good to wear and that have "holistic" powers (holistic - that's another term currently used and abused by press officers…), but some garments, especially the light tracksuits, pointed towards the type of clothes favoured by suburban youths (Dainty is a fan of terrace casual brands like Stone Island, so he is familiar with such moods).
The palette included three main basic shades - white, navy and black - and the cut was clean and well defined, at times pointing towards cold futuristic uniforms rather than sportswear.
This was actually the real problem of this capsule collection - it wouldn't have looked out of place in a futuristic dystopia such as Drake Doremus' film Equals. In the latter people live and work in a world in which emotions do not exist and those who regain their ability to feel things are considered as sick and must be cured and stabilized.
Maybe using the natural and the synthetic materials in a more balanced way would have produced less alienating results more fit as costumes of a sci-fi urban fantasy (mind you, the duo designed FKA Twigs' tour wardrobe in 2014 and their designs appear in Jamie XX's video for "Gosh", so they may have a career in functional costumes...).
After London and Florence the duo will be heading to Paris where they're up for the Woolmark Prize. Hopefully, taking part in the award will inspire them to find a better balance of coexistence between man-made and natural fibres, otherwise, despite their noble intent of elevating streetwear to luxury, they will perilously risk of falling into the currently trendy "sportswear for juvenile delinquents" category.