Being a [patriotic] half-Swede, I’m a bit of a ‘home-crowd’ for the fitness fashion brand Björn Borg, which I featured on my blog trip to Morroco earlier this year. With that in mind, I was elated to receive an invite to the label’s SS15 fashion show in collaboration with the eponymous ‘Creative Show Director’ Bea Åkerlund (stylist to the likes of Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Madonna and Fergie) and their own head designer James Lee. I hopped on a plane with a smattering of journalists and a couple of hours later we were checking in to Stockholm’s Berns – the city’s core hotel/club/hub for fashionistas, models, bloggers and designers for the week, it would seem. This post is a little round-up of what I found behind the scenes, my thoughts about their collection, and my interview with their designer James Lee!
The show itself was hidden away on one of the rocky islands in the Stockholm archipelago, set in imposing and winding caves which were festooned with incredible light displays. Together with c. 400 editors, bloggers, actors and artists I watched a phenomenal video-game-inspired runway show unfold, as a celebration of ‘individuality, love and fashion in a digital era’.
There was an intentionally robotic flavour to the model’s walk on the catwalk, suggesting digital motion, and they wore identical ‘avatar’ masks which I absolutely loved! In one of my monochrome photos below (I had no photographer with me, I had to use my little Leica D-lux for this trip!) you’ll see Bea and James wearing them backstage. The masks themselves were imbued with marble eyes; striking if not a little scary, much as the rugged contours of the rock face next to the catwalk. The models looked impeccable, and the masks rendered them uniform (in a way that paid homage to the digital theme), therefore totally shifting emphasis to the clothes. A deft touch!
The clothes, as ever, were vividly colourful, outspokenly bright, effervescently bold… and above all, light-heartedly fun. It’s a ‘flirty’ look which doesn’t take itself too seriously – recognising that trend that people like to dress in a somewhat escapist manner to hit the gym! Whether you choose an entirely loud outfit or elect a few, choice colourful pieces (dressed down with some more classic pieces), I think there was genuinely a look for everyone in and outside the gym here.
After the show, I got a chance to mill about backstage and throw a few questions to the head designer, James Lee, to pick his brains on fitness fashion and the Björn Borg SS/15 collection. Here are his thoughts:
Faya: What was your inspiration behind the show?
James: For the collection S/S15, we wanted to launch a collection in a different way so we decided to launch it through a computer game and so this fashion show was all about it being like a demo for computer game. So we brought the idea of computer games through into the collection in different ways – thats what it’s about.
What colours, patterns did you use and why?
It’s interesting because the brand is known for doing so many colours; so we wanted to evolve the look, evolve each season, make them significantly different to each other. It felt really relevant to choose a monochrome colour palette, and then there are accent colours of aqua, lemon pink and orange, that run through the collection; that was key for the colours. Then with the prints there are three main prints in the collection, which was very much water-inspired, coral structures, and then marble prints that went through all the different product groups.
What sort of new and innovative performance materials were used in this collection?
We always work with different functional fabrics like moisture wicking materials, meshes in critical areas and then we work with things like hydro-blocking fabrics with water resistance. In this collection we worked with certain key materials like meshes, neoprene, transparents; they all feel really relevant for the moment, given prevailing trends.
Who is the Bjorn Borg man or woman?
We say that we always try to design for people who are colourful and brave, that are interested in and serious about style, that are urban, are into that culture. We try to make products that make people feel both active and attractive, and to mix that boundary between sports and fashion in the most interesting way.
If you were to sum up the collection in 5 worlds what would they be?
Mesh, neoprene, transparency in three words for materials; and then three words for the prints would be ‘marble’, this print ‘ripple’ that you saw with water on, and ‘membrane’ which is the coral inspired one.
What are the key ‘hot’ fitness fashion trends this season?
I think that for us, my favourite products in this collection are the transparent jackets – very good for spring, summer, a lightweight material; there are trends that are related to a certain minimalism, and those sort of really eye catching without being too bold I think those are really important products for the current season.
Swedish style, although a bit of a generalisation is typically quite minimal, whereas with this collection there were some very bold, forthright patterns; has your english heritage combined with the Swedish (Bea) influenced this collection do you think?
Absolutely! We’ve got a heritage which is in print as well, so I think it’s interesting that we are sort of different than that which people associate with Swedish fashion, but I think that we share qualities of Swedishness in terms of values, a certain liberalism, you know, trying to bring a little bit more love into the world!
As fitness is becoming increasingly popular, how do you see the fashion landscape changing from a design perspective moving forward?
Material remains key, there’s more and more happening there all the time. Culturally you don’t know exactly where it’s going to go but it’s interesting how everyone’s doing a triathlon or Tough Mudder; the whole idea of health is evolving in different ways. At the same time, the boundaries between gym and street are blurring too. It’s not just like you go to the gym anymore and get changed, everybody is in jogging leggings on the train or in town. It’s definitely comfort related along with a sense of style, and things like that are becoming bigger and bigger, all the time!
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