Fewer sneakers on Paris runways, but sportswear brands still keen on Parisian presence
Suits and formal looks made a major come-back on the runways of the Paris menswear Fashion Week that ended on January 22. A session that signalled a significant slowdown for streetwear, which had been buoyant for the last three years. Despite the fact that suits, whether fitted or oversized, are still worn with sneakers, and that several new collaborations came to the fore, like Reebok with Hed Mayner and Botter, New Balance with Junya Watanabe, Zellerfeld with Rains and Nike with Sacaï, the underlying trend has made co-designed collections less ubiquitous.
Yet, sneaker and sportswear brands still mark the fashion week period in their calendars, and are very keen to join the party. For example, Asics showcased its collaboration with Andersson Bell with an imaginative installation in a Parisian venue at 35-37 rue des Francs-Bourgeois.
Other brands adopted a much more commercial approach. Saucony took over a gallery in rue du Temple in Paris, where it presented the fall/winter lifestyle pieces featured in the collaborations celebrating its 125th anniversary, with Universal Works, Tombogo and Jae Tips, aka The Savior. “We opened a showroom in June, during the last fashion week,” said Andrea Rogg, managing director of Saucony Originals. “It enabled us to reach out to the press but also to connect with and succeed in entering a number of premium lifestyle stores. This presence allowed us to grow our Spring/Summer 2023 sales at a faster pace, and we’ll be there again in future seasons,” he added. At the showroom, Saucony Originals welcomed representatives of various directional independent stores and major accounts from Europe and the rest of the world, and presented its forthcoming collaborations, including a revamped version of the vintage Sonic Spotbilt sneakers, and various reinterpretations of the US brand’s Y2K running models.
A similar approach was followed by New Balance, which opened its own Parisian showroom in the Marais district, on rue des Arquebusiers, opposite those by emerging labels Blue Marble and WooYoungmi. In the showroom, New Balance showcased its classic sneakers range as well as future high-end models produced by its factories in the USA and the UK. “For us it’s an opportunity to meet many international clients, and to enable our European staff to get together,” said Claire Boulanger, New Balance’s marketing manager in France. “Since the start of the pandemic, we have met very often online. This way, we can meet again in person,” she added.
Having a meeting place available in Paris helps make new connections. Gore Tex, the outerwear specialist and producer of water and wind-resistant fabrics, was back this season in Paris with a showroom on rue Sainte-Anastase, where it presented the work of New.Facet, an artist who uses artificial intelligence to develop the waterproof jackets of the future. “For us it was important to be in Paris at this time, because we were able to stay in touch with the design studios of various fashion labels, and also because all the designers of the major sportswear brands’ lifestyle lines were also present,” said Gore Tex.
Clearly, many brands that operate in the sportswear and lifestyle sectors are keen on this proximity with fashion labels, designers and buyers. This is why they come to Paris to showcase their style and know-how, of which the fashion sector is often unaware.
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