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NikeLab: How Athleisure has won the game

Collaborations within the trades of music, cinema, and art are typically considered a standard order of business. Even those in artistic fields note that it is precisely interdisciplinary collaborations that legitimize the works of artists. Further in agreement is the world of fashion, whose fundamental belief in collaborations has been noted since its beginnings.

Amidst a whirlwind of launches, collaborations, and relationships between a host of contrasting brands, the fashion industry established itself within the sports sector in an unprecedented way. We need only recall the words of Nike CEO, Mark Parker, stating that “leggings are the new denim”, to understand one of latest trends facing the fashion industry.

It was in 2014 when fashion discovered a previously unexplored opportunity. Designers among the ranks of Riccardo Tisci, Alexander Wang, and most recently Matthew Williams, made their foray into the field of sport reaping the rewards of their unprecedented success. Together, yet separately, each of these designers have changed the the way we understand sportswear today.

Where did Athleisure come from?

The starting point, most likely, can be found in two main sources. On one hand, if there was one activity that could be said to have experienced remarkable growth in recent years, it would undoubtedly be running. In the midst of a global economic crisis, the sportswear sector was the only one that increased its sales percentage, increasing by 12 points compared to the same period of the previous year.

Fashion, not wanting to turn its back on great possibilities, began to welcome the sports sector with open arms.

It was precisely this rise in interest that motivated sports brands to increase production and rethink the limits of sportswear.

Parallel to this, the rise of social networks and the need on the part of celebrities to share their each and every move, saw sporstwear reinvent itself. This reinvention spread until sportswear was sufficiently stylized to be able to share it across many different platforms.

Once it had gained social acceptance and even praise for being fashionable, Athleisure became much more than a passing trend. Sportswear could even be seen being worn to the workplace.


NikeLab, reinventing sports fashion

While for a few leading fashion brands, the sports sector became a pillar from which to base their strategies, sports brands viewed the fashion sector as an aspect to improve on. Fashionable aesthetics then stood at the forefront of their design principles, working on their products and converting their collections into pieces that could take center stage on catwalks.

One of the brands that has dominated this evolution has been Nike. On June 11, 2014, Nike made a decision that would forever change, not only the future of the company, but the future of the sports industry in question. With several of its major competitors already experiencing an increasingly prominent role in fashion, the Oregan based brand announced the opening of six new retail locations under the label, NikeLab. This new label would be the catalyst in altering the design of sports fashion as we then knew it. Under the slogan, Innovations x Innovators, echoing the spirit of the shops, the Swoosh brand opened the world’s eyes to the most disruptive fashion of that time.

Innovation plays a prominent role at Nike, a characteristic that is fully ingrained into its DNA. Through the concept of NikeLab, which takes from its origins based on collections centered on performance, Nike has embraced some of the most important designers since its launch to create collections of clothing that are fit for the fashion industry’s greatest catwalks.

After four years, NikeLab has become a temple for those whose love comfortable, functional, and fashionable clothing. Over the years, there have been a wealth of well-respected designers that have worked in collaboration with this more fashion-focused division of Nike, from Virgil Abloh to Riccardo Tiscci, as well as Jun Takahasi via his streetwear Brand, Undercover.

To commemorate the World Cup 2018, the label recently released the collection, Off White x NikeLab, and will continue this momentum with a new collaboration featuring ALYX designer, Matthew Williams. The collection, Matthew Williams x NikeLab, seeks to unleash the designer’s character – uniting his experience and meticulousness with the latest technology from Nike.

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