British-Jamaican designer Grace Wales Bonner, whose work often refers to her bi-racial heritage and the politics of race and who has been called one of the top talents of her generation, is working with Adidas on its first collaborative collection after the sportswear firm previewed her work during London Fashion Week in January of 2020.
Wales Bonner considers fashion to be an intuitive way to understand the many perspectives of culture, reflecting a unique idea of luxury through an approach that combines European and African styles. Her Fall/Winter 2020 collection featured literary and musical references and a high level of craftsmanship in a line that explores subcultures of the 1970s from the viewpoint of young Caribbean people in London. The inaugural collaboration reimagines the sporting lifestyle heritage of Adidas with Wales Bonners modern take on menswear.
Commenting on her collaboration with Adidas, Wales Bonner said it was amazing to study the archive with the sportswear firm to see the different interpretations by various cultures through time. She added that her interest was “elevating the familiar” and bringing an “eveningwear and tailored sensibility to this essential collection.”
The new collection was inspired by Wales Bonner’s Jamaican heritage and features three hybrid Adidas tracksuits, each of which is based on the classic three-stripes trademark of the firm reimagined with details like crochet stripes and oversized ribbing. To honor the style of the 1970s, the collection also features a long-sleeved football jersey and a multicolored knit roll neck. The collection includes two soft cotton t-shirts with satin sleeves, one blue and one brown.
The collection’s footwear includes Wales Bonner’s concept of the SL72 silhouette, as well as two different versions of the company’s iconic Samba sneaker. In the SL72, the designer catches the spirit of the 70s with a corduroy upper combined with velvet and antique leather overlays on top of a tricolor rubber outsole. This updated version of the classic is available in Trace Pink/Collegiate Orange/Maroon and Hemp/Maroon/Forest Green. The Samba sneaker has been elevated by Wales Bonner in Core Black/Cream with crochet and hand-stitched details, and a longer tongue that extends over its laces. The Samba silhouette is reimagined in Cream White/Brown with a raw cotton upper, details that are hand-stitched, velvet laces, and a translucent rubber outsole.
A visual promotion campaign accompanies the collection’s launch. It was shot by Harley Weir, a long term collaborator. There is also a film by Durimel that is part of the launch.
Wales Bonner was named the 2019 BFC/Vogue Fashion Fund prize totaling £200,000. She received the LVH Prize in 2016 and designed the dress worn by the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, when she introduced her new son Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor to the world with his father Britain’s Prince Harry. Her BA graduate collection was shown at Central Saint Martins in 2014.
Since her debut on the fashion scene, Wales Bonner has made a strong impression with her talent and ability to design clothing that features nuanced references to identity politics.
The Adidas Originals by Wales Bonner Fall/Winter 2020 collection will be available worldwide on November 20, 2020, at the Adidas website and at select retailers.