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Are we really ready to wear Technology?

Friday, Nov 19, 2010, 4:21 PM

Cyprus-born designer Hussein Chalayan has bought back his brand after he sold the majority stake to Puma owners Pinault-Printemps-Redoute (PPR) a couple of years ago.

This may seem like a huge step, but the British-based designer will nevertheless remain creative director of Puma, and not just because his first campaign has just launched… Throughout his 15-year career, Chalayan has gained a reputation for being the king of avant-garde, continuously exploring, experimenting and pushing boundaries.

His ‘wearable architectures’ have been displayed in major museums and exhibitions together with his film installations such as the 2005 Absent Presence starring Tilda Swinton which exhibited at the 51st Biennale.

He is Fashion’s Archimedes: his clothes are the result of both scientific and theoretical research, which he manages to turn into digitally deformed crystallized garments. His LED-studded dresses, wooden table skirts, dresses comprised of over 200 moving lasers or made of 15,000 LEDs with a liberal sprinkling of Swarovski crystals have both surprised audiences and simultaneously created a vision of a possible bridge between fashion and technology.

But as we all know, the endless discourse between fashion and art inevitably ends with a reality check: how can suspended feather-light garments from helium balloons or fibreglass be adapted for the consumer market?

Puma’s 2007 acquisition was for this reason strategically chosen to allow the designer to explore a more commercial approach to his label as he did in his first ad campaign for Fall 2009.

“Combining Puma’s infrastructure and technological platform with PPR facilities, we will be able to turn experimental ideas into reality, both for the Puma and Chalayan lines. Hopefully people will have the means to access real products evolving from our process rather than only seeing them in shows and events” (FashionTribes)

But how can you ask a rose to be ashamed of its own thorns? Hussein certainly contributed an interesting point of view to the “Sports and lifestyle brand”, but normally sneakers and hoodies don’t go with “sculpture dresses”, so it’s no surprise that Chalayan has just announced his plans to claim back the brand acquired in 2007 by PPR group with a controlling stake of over $7 billion.

Chalayan will again be able to operate his brand independently, even though he’s staying on as creative director of Puma. According to a statement issued by the company, the next line “urban mobility collection“ will be available in stores from late spring.

Will this marketing strategy affect his brand’s business or will it be a clever way for the designer to work on a bilateral front? Is this the perfect year for his sci-fi garments or is 2010 still analogue?

Stefania | TribaSpace

Product Groups: Ready-to-Wear, Consulting, Buying, Sales, Production, Fabrics, Textiles, Creation, Representation, Couture, Footwear, Casual Wear
Markets: Men's, Other, Children's, Women's

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