20 January 2013

Crafted


Possibly the most intriguing fashion collaboration around: Nikecraft was born when artist Tom Sachs joined forces with the sportswear goliath this year.  The project was created in conjunction with Sachs’ SPACE PROGRAM: Mars exhibition, which was recently on display in New York.

Sachs is a sculptor, with his work firmly rooted in design and engineering.  He uses everyday materials to recreate pieces of modern structure; from the Apollo 11 Lunar Excursion Module to a McDonalds made from plywood, glue and assorted kitchen appliances.  An important part of Sachs’ work is not hiding the process used to create each piece.  Screws and joins are left visible; nothing is smoothed over, leaving an unfinished air to each of his works. 

The Nikecraft collection utilises highly technical materials never before used in sportswear, including air bags, boat sails and even space suits.  The concept behind the collection according to Sachs is that “Astronauts must be as fit as an elite athlete to even withstand the rigors of exiting the earth’s atmosphere. Their daily tasks require a substantial effort and endurance. Equally, their equipment must be up to the task of performing under the most unforgiving conditions.”  Each piece is packed with functional details such as zipper pulls that double as storage containers for AAA batteries.

The range comprises the Mars Yard Shoe, the Trench, the Mars Fly Jacket, the Air Bag Bag and the Lightweight Tote.  The Mars Yard Shoe is inspired by the casual clothing worn by the mechanical engineers working in the aerospace industry, always finished off with a comfy pair of sneakers.  The rubber soles are as at home on the simulated terrain of the Mars Yard in Pasadena, California as they are treading the corridors of Mission Control in Washington, D.C.  Fabric from Mars Excursion Rover airbags is even used for the uppers of the shoes.

The Lighweight Tote is for ‘everyday superheroes’ and comes with everything one might need to rescue a kitten from a tree: a 30-inch paracord, the aforementioned battery holder, and even a grappling hook.

The Mars Fly Jacket is a super techy anorak, which is hand embellished in New York.  It features a hood that can be adjusted at the back to change the tension, with a leather brim and the feat of innovation that is elasticised leather (yes, you read it correctly: elasticised) cuffs, complete with Kevlar stitching.  You can even vary the sleeve tension with a ‘tailoring cinch’ that ruffles the fabric around the elbow to change the fit of each sleeve.

To carry all of your space gear or, you know, gym kit, there is the Air Bag Bag.  Made from, you guessed it, air bag material used in the Mars Lanser 2004.  The material; Vectran is spun from a liquid crystal polymer and is lightweight, highly durable and five times stronger than steel.  This allows the bag to have a huge capacity: 4029 cubic inches to be exact.  Better add a 550lb paracord on the waterproof zip then.

It is the Trench that is the real standout piece; with its waterproof and breathable three layer fabric, detachable hood and fishtail back.  The winning feature however, is its lining.  It is covered in essential scientific information: the periodic table is neatly drawn across the back panels above the electromagnetic spectrum while a scribbled timeline runs one sleeve to the other. 

Learn more about the collection at nikecraft.com or check it out at Dover Street Market in London.

All images http://tomsachs.org/store



12 January 2013

CC Kuo


Composition - CC Kuo SS13
You know a fashion designer is going to go far when their graduate collection is styled by Katie Grand herself for a Pop Magazine editorial.  So far, CC Kuo has lived up to her critical acclaim, creating luxurious clothes that stand out from the crowd due to her bold use of colour and print.

Despite such press exposure before her career had even begun, Kuo decided to hone her design skills in a variety of fashion brands before launching her own label.  After stints at such renowned names as Alexander McQueen, Margaret Howell and Preen, she set up CC Kuo in 2010.

Her most recent accomplishment was winning Lookk’s 1Hundred Designers competition in March.  Chosen from an initial selection of 400 designers by a panel that included blogger Susie Lau and designer Manish Arora, Kuo’s Spring/Summer 2012 collection Black Stripe dominated the competition with its striking maxi dresses and lightweight knits.  The winning collection is available to buy online on Beach Tomato and Then and Now

Kuo’s most recent collection Composition for SS13 utilises the signature CC Kuo feature: her digital prints.  Flicking through the past season look books of CC Kuo, what is striking is how cohesive each collection is.  Whether it’s the considered print placement, or the colour-blocking running through each range, the attention to detail is clear.  We still have a lot more to see of CC Kuo.