Close Look: Japanese Take On Athleisure

Kolor X Adidas AW 2015

Hot on the heels of Sacai’s collaboration with NikeLab is Kolor’s partnership with Adidas. Sacai’s Chitose Abe is the wife of Kolor’s Junichi Abe, so it is interesting to see how these pairings turn out. Of course, the hype is nothing compared to Pharell William’s re-interpretation of the Stan Smith and Superstar, but Junichi Abe is expected to bring something only the Japanese can with performance wear. Look at Jun Takahashi of Undercover’s on-going collaboration with Nike, the immensely wearable and intriguing Gyakusou collection.

Launched globally on 25 September, Adidas X Kolor was released in Singapore at Club 21B with no fanfare. Our contributor Shu Xie, unaware that the Club 21 Group had exclusive distribution rights to the line, had gone to the adidas Orignals store at Pacific Plaza, thinking it would be available there, only to be greeted by staff who knew nothing of the collaboration.

Perhaps it isn’t quite accurate to describe what Junichi Abe has done as ‘athleisure’—that rapidly rising sub-category of sports performance wear made popular and highly visible by brands such as Lululemon, H&M, and, to a certain extent, Alexander Wang. Or the consequence of too many ‘elevated’ jogging pants seen in bars and clubs. Mr Abe’s treatment show immense respect to what these garments would be used for: athletics and training. It is doubtful that he would have designed with a club setting and strobe lights in mind, even when the high-shine technical fabrics used wouldn’t be out of place in the likes of Zouk. Like compatriot, JunTakahashi—himself an avid runner, Mr Abe has assembled a neat little collection destined for the track and field, and the gym.

Indeed, we were immediately enticed by the somewhat futuristic treatment of the 21 pieces. If there’s a running track inside the International Space Station, it is highly possible that NASA’s astronauts would want to wear these outfits to keep fit. The fabrics, many based on the tech Adidas has conceived (such as Climaheat and Climachill, and Boost for the footwear), are mostly synthetic, yet are of such pleasurable tactile quality that it really could be performance-enhancing. In a word (or two): super soft. Comfort alone could see them being worn in the gym and outside.

Is Adidas X Kolor better than NikeLab X Sacai? It’s hard to compare. The first is essentially menswear, while the other is targeted at women. Yet, there’s a sense of the avant garde that is evocative of what both do. There’s also the layering, an approach to dispel the belief that one-piece garments work better for sports. Husband and wife clearly approach athletic-wear with a ready-to-wear sensibility, and both have not sacrificed style to performance.

Adidas X Kolor is available at Club 21B, Forum Galleria.

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